View Full Version : Soundtrax: Return to Galactica

June 9th, 2005, 12:36 PM
From Bear McCreary's website:

This review was originally published at Cinescape:

Soundtrax: Return to Galactica (http://www.bearmccreary.com/)

by Randall D. Larson
June 2, 2005


The Sci Fi Channel’s new incarnation of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, based on and with the participation of BG creator Glen A. Larson is a far cry from the cloned STAR WARS space opera of the original show. As new series exec producer David Eick writes, “From the outset, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was designed to be a reinvention of science fiction… [we] were looking for ways to push boundaries, question assumptions, and circumvent the stale trappings of the genre.”

Richard Gibbs’ score for the miniseries pilot (released by La-La Land last year, see review in my March 18 2004 column) fit this conceptualization well, avoiding stereotypical science fiction swashbuckle and instead crafting a score that is rich in world-music textures, introspective atmospheres, and hearty blendings of evocative instrumentations and unusual melodic voicings. Gibbs composed the first two episodes of season one (episodes “two” and “three,” – episode “one” being the miniseries pilot); his theme music is retained from the pilot for the British version of the show, while the US version has a slightly different main title – Gibbs original theme modified by his wing man from the miniseries, Bear McCreary. The balance of the season 1 scores were composed by McCreary, who is set free to really find his own voice in the ongoing series, as well presented in La-La Land’s new release of original soundtrack music from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, SEASON ONE (LLLCD-1032).

Much of that voice fits with the pattern set by Gibbs in the pilot, but McCreary is showing himself to be a capable and sensitive composer whose work underlies the new BG’s elegantly introspective and exotically atmospheric sensibility. The score takes advantage of the cultural instrumentation popular in World Music, with minimal orchestral accompaniment, and a capable understanding of thematic interplay and a creativity willing to embrace sonic textures not usually associated with a science fiction setting.

“Not only did every major character end up with an identifiable theme, but Italian opera, elevator music, Gaelic choirs, and, yes, even the traditional string orchestra found their way into the musical soundscape of the series,” writes McCreary in the CD booklet. “The music ranges from narrative scope to being a character in and of itself… Few television shows allow for so many thrilling opportunities…”

The music is at once fresh and appealing, with a timbre and a depth and grain that is constantly persuasive. The themes interlace between the various musical atmospheres and textures, but it’s the instrumental choices that make the score as intriguing and likable as it is, from the Uilleann pipes that play such an achingly beautiful melody in “A Good Lighter” and which prelude the Gaelic voices in the rhythmically lyrical “Wander My Friends,” to the various use of exotic percussion, Irish and Middle Eastern pipes, operatic soprano, classically performed violin passacaglia, and a myriad of other elements all combined into a carefully calculated composition that maintains its forward motion through ongoing reinterpretation.

I wouldn’t go as far as to compare the score to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON ONE to Howard Shore’s magnum opus, THE LORD OF THE RINGS; however the musical approach McCreary takes is of the same type – providing a depth of instrumentation and melodic poignancy that invests each cue – and therefore each episode – with a powerful resonance of emotion; like Shore, McCreary scores not so much the events or the environments we see on the screen (although the music is appropriate for those visual elements as well), but the subtexts, the character interplays, emotional resonance, and subtle story arcs, which music underplays so well and so eloquently. The result, on screen as on this CD, is a rich interpretation of various musical flavorings and textures that blend into a very interesting harmonic structure that reflects much of the tonality of the series.

The CD contains 30 tracks from a dozen episodes, plus the US and UK main titles, and a pair of brief introduction/recap segues composed for show bumpers. More than 78 minutes of music, nicely sequenced in a package beautifully designed by Mark Banning. Notes from McCreary and exec producer David Eick lend some background to the show’s musical sensibilities.


:p ;) :) :D