Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda soundtrackAlas, poor Andromeda. I really do feel bad about this show. I was among the first to pan it upon its premiere in 2000, but at the same time, I realize that it could’ve turned out better. Based on an unused outline by the late Gene Roddenberry, the show centers around Dylan Hunt (played by Kevin Sorbo, and inheritor of a character name that Roddenberry bestowed upon the lead characters of his Genesis II and Planet Earth pilots), the captain of the High Guard starship Andromeda Ascendant. The ship barely survives a huge uprising by a race which was thought to be among the High Guard’s allies, and flies too close to a black hole, changing the laws of time around the ship and leaving it in limbo for hundreds of years. A salvage ship’s crew retrieves the Andromeda Ascendant and awakens Captain Hunt in an age when the High Guard is no more and chaos reigns in the universe.

At least, that’s the idea. Despite the late Roddenberry’s sketchy outline being fleshed out by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s guiding lights, and the show being steered by producers and other personnel who had gained a lot of experience working on Earth: Final Conflict, things just never gelled for Andromeda. Perhaps it was the show’s retooling to serve as a vehicle for Kevin Sorbo, or perhaps it was the lack of Earth: Final Conflict’s detailed story arc notes that helped to guide that show’s first four seasons. In any event, Andromeda is now seriously off course – and plummeting downward through the syndicated ratings.

But when you peel all of that away, there is at least one good thing left: Matt McCauley’s subtle and sensitive music score, which has now been released by GNP Crescendo Records, the makers of virtually every Star Trek soundtrack for the past 15 years and the saviors of many a semi-obscure genre show’s soundtrack.

McCauley uses synths and samples to create what may be the best orchestra-free orchestral score I’ve yet heard, but what really makes the Andromeda soundtrack stand out from the crowd is its unconventional use of other samples to spice things up. The closest the show has to a signature sound texture is a frequently-used sample of electric guitar feedback (minus the original note that created the feedback in the first place). That unearthly wail laid over the orchestra creates a truly unique sound. Truly electronic sounds aren’t used all that much, though they become more noticeable in the tracks that feature cues from later episodes.

The CD itself is arranged into a series of short suites drawn from several episodes, selected by the composer to illustrate specific running themes, characters or concepts. Sometimes I don’t care for this method of dividing things up, but in this case it works.

Also featured is the season one theme by Rush’s Alex Lifeson (a manic, bombastic, drum-heavy number which seems to be trying to bend electric guitars into a bagpipe sound, a la Big Country’s “In A Big Country”), and 3 out of 4McCauley’s somewhat less interesting theme from season two. This is definitely a case where the actual incidental music outshines either of the show’s main themes. Lifeson’s is far more distinctive, but probably falls too far outside of either rock or traditional soundtrack parameters to catch on for most listeners as a piece of music sans visual accompaniment.

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  1. March Of The High Guard: Season 1 Main Title (0:59)
  2. The High Guard Theme: Season 2 Main Title (0:54)
  3. Andromeda Ascendant (1:36)
  4. Dylan Hunt (1:21)
  5. Cyber World (2:42)
  6. Earthly Emotions (4:36)
  7. Man And Machine (2:57)
  8. Beka Valentine (1:32)
  9. The Rev Bem Wayist Theme (3:03)
  10. Slipstream / Tyr Anasazi (2:39)
  11. Nietzschean Attack (2:38)
  12. Deepest Space (4:07)
  13. Dangerous Maneuvers (3:56)
  14. The Magog (1:45)
  15. Epitaph (2:19)
  16. Strange Beauty (2:21)
  17. Trance Gemini (2:39)
  18. Exotic Worlds (3:41)
  19. Sara (1:56)
  20. Mad Pursuit (3:02)
  21. Villains (2:33)
  22. Battle Stations (3:42)
  23. Rommie’s Love (1:56)
  24. Rhade’s Lament (4:48)
  25. Season 2 Main Title reprise (0:55)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 64:49