Stargate SG-1: Music From Selected Episodes

Stargate SG-1: Music From Selected EpisodesIf there’s a property I didn’t expect to resurface in the soundtrack world in the summer of 2017, it’s the Stargate TV franchise. In hindsight, though, I wasn’t paying attention to the clues – Intrada has long championed the musical output of Richard Band, brother of Full Moon Pictures producer Charles Band, and composer-in-residence on Full Moon’s extensive slate of low-to-mid-budget horror movies. And, patterned somewhat after the arrangement that governed music during the entirety of spinoff-era Star Trek, Band alternated on episodes of Stargate SG-1 with Joel Goldsmith for the show’s first two years on the Showtime pay cable channel, with other composers occasionally filling in (including, ironically, Star Trek’s Dennis McCarthy). This 2-CD set from Intrada gather’s Band’s carefully selected highlights from his time with the Stargate franchise.

The episodes for which Band felt he’d done his best work were Cold Lazarus, In The Line Of Duty, In The Serpent’s Lair, and Singularity – oddly enough, all early favorites of mine. Listening to the scores Band composed for these episodes, which feature small orchestral ensembles attempting to fill out and deepen the sound of synthesizers and samples, it’s easy to tell the real musicians from the electronic sounds. With the show opening every week with an adapted version of David Arnold’s theme from the original Stargate movie (for which Arnold had to be paid for every usage), the rest of the music budget – especially before Stargate SG-1 found its legs and popularity with its audience – was tightly constrained. But even when roughly half of what you hear is synthesized, it’s still a fun listen. Military drums, low, urgent brass ostinatos, and actual recurring themes (including quotes of Arnold’s theme) – the music of SG-1 was everything that the music of the show’s Star Trek contemporaries usually wasn’t: propulsive and threatening and dangerous. Stuff was happening in the music rather than it being relegated to background wallpaper. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the nearly-nine-minute solid cue covering the entire final act of In The Serpent’s Lair: literally wall-to-wall music for the show’s climax.

Cold Lazarus, which uncovers a painful incident from Jack O’Neill’s past, is the outlier here, with gentle piano accompanying the unfolding revelation that Jack had lost a child. In The Line Of Duty and Singularity are far more representative of the musical sound of Stargate SG-1 as a whole, with both quiet passages, mysterious music for the team’s discoveries of ancient (or is that Ancient?) mysteries, and gung-ho action music where needed.

3 out of 4I remember, when first seeing that Intrada was releasing a new round of Stargate TV scores, being a bit let down that Joel Goldsmith’s work wasn’t represented. Now I realize this wasn’t a downside: Richard Band was as much a part of SG-1’s sound in those heady formative years of the show – where anything was possible and the Stargate franchise had yet to fall into the trap that befalls many a long-running series, namely slipping its neck into the noose of ever-thickening continuity – as Joel Goldsmith’s sound was. Much like the Star Trek: The Next Generation box sets that finally gave Dennis McCarthy’s work exposure in the wake of a massive all-Ron-Jones soundtrack box set, this SG-1 soundtrack set redresses an imbalance and is worth a listen.

Order this CD

    Disc One
    Cold Lazarus

  1. Teaser (3:42)
  2. Is It Really Jack? (3:53)
  3. Jack At Ex-Wife’s House (3:25)
  4. Jack Visits Charlie’s Room (3:24)
  5. The Crystals (2:14)
  6. The Crystal Monitor (2:18)
  7. Jack And Wife On Park Bench (3:08)
  8. They Re-Activate The Crystal Monitor (2:03)
  9. Pushing Back Through Gate To Hospital (3:53)
  10. Jack Meets Alien Self And Finale (9:10)

    In The Line Of Duty

  11. Teaser (2:50)
  12. Medical Time (3:12)
  13. O’Neill Comforts Cassie (3:05)
  14. O’Neill To Burn Victim (0:38)
  15. Teal’c Gives O’Neill Advice (2:28)
  16. Daniel Talks To Girl Survivor (2:07)
  17. Bad Guy Bandages Doc (2:20)
  18. Daniel Talks To Alien Carter (2:26)
  19. Finale – Daniel And Then Others Visit (10:11)
    Disc Two
    In The Serpent’s Lair

  1. Finale (8:50)

    Singularity

  2. Teaser (3:34)
  3. From Stargate To New World (2:36)
  4. Sam With Girl And Back Through Gate (2:49)
  5. Sam And Little Girl Get Closer (2:58)
  6. Heart Attack And Operation (3:36)
  7. Jack And Teal’c Escaping Battle (4:22)
  8. To The Underground Site (2:35)
  9. Time Is Up And Finale (8:26)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: June 27, 2017
Disc one total running time: 67:01
Disc two total running time: 40:01

Stargate: Continuum – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate: ContinuumReleased hot on the heels of the direct-to-DVD movie, Joel Goldsmith’s epic score from Stargate: Continuum is, not unlike the movie it accompanies, even bigger and better than Ark Of Truth. Continuum is a story painted on a broader canvas, and the music follows suit – in places, it’s positively epic stuff, in the tradition of John Williams and, yes, a certain other film composer named Goldsmith.

The score opens with a spacious new rendition of David Arnold’s Stargate theme (hearkening back to the original movie) and then segues into a jaunty, lighthearted piece as the team assembles for their next mission. We’re then treated to the choral dirge heard as the list of Ba’al’s crimes is read prior to his execution; while the choir was heard in the Ark Of Truth soundtrack, it’s used more, and to better effect, here. “The Last Of The System Lords” is the first of several bold action cues that almost feel as much like Star Wars as they do Stargate – it’s big, widescreen music.

Even in its more contemplative moments – such as the very relaxing “Endless Horizons” and “Breaking The Ice” – the music is panoramic. The Arctic Circle footage is lovely, yes, but Goldsmith’s music really helps to sell the setting, especially as a pretty good chunk of that part of the movie is dialogue-free. “Endless Horizons” is a nice accompaniment to that rather bleak travelogue.

4 out of 4With the recent announcement that the faltering spinoff series Stargate Atlantis is moving out of weekly production and into movies like the SG-1 direct-to-DVD adventures, I’m actually somewhat pleased…because maybe Joel Goldsmith will get to make more music like this, and more CDs to go along with it. As a fan of his music for this particular franchise, that suits me just fine.

Order this CD

  1. A Day At SGC (3:41)
  2. The List (1:19)
  3. Murder Of Untold Millions (1:46)
  4. The Achilles Commandeered (1:21)
  5. The Last Of The System Lords (6:29)
  6. For The Good Of Others (0:47)
  7. The Sinking Of The Achilles (0:44)
  8. Endless Horizons (2:06)
  9. Breaking The Ice (2:11)
  10. New Identities (2:27)
  11. Ba’al Divided (0:54)
  12. Bring A God To Tears (1:20)
  13. Daniel’s Book (1:31)
  14. Al’Kesh Invasion (0:54)
  15. Photograph (0:50)
  16. Apophis (3:43)
  17. The Armada (1:24)
  18. Quetesh Takes Over (3:07)
  19. Battle Over The Ocean (2:19)
  20. The Machine (1:51)
  21. Fall Of The Heroes (2:35)
  22. End Of The Reign (2:25)
  23. The Extraction (2:06)
  24. O’Neill Buys Lunch / End Title (4:46)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 52:36

Stargate: Ark Of Truth – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate: Ark Of TruthThe Stargate television franchise has used a full orchestra on precisely two occasion: the 1997 pilot episode of SG-1. and the 2004 pilot movie of Stargate Atlantis. Everything that has come since has been the product of synthesizers, and in the early years of Stargate SG-1 there was even quite a diverse mix of composers whose work – dating back to the first season – was mixed-and-matched as needed, like the original Star Trek’s library approach to its music. So it’s quite a shock to the system to suddenly return to a real orchestra and a real choir with Ark Of Truth, the first of two post-cancellation direct-to-DVD movie projects for the cast and crew of SG-1.

Resident Stargate maestro Joel Goldsmith is naturally at the helm here, and as usual, he has no trouble switching from synthesized/sampled orchestral music to the real deal. The soundtrack opens with a restatement of the Stargate theme we’ve heard for years – itself adapted from David Arnold’s music from the 1994 movie – but with a different emphasis and tempo than the SG-1 main titles, letting us know immediately that things are a little bit different. (I could stop here and point out that, despite the grandiosity of the music, things aren’t that different and Ark feel like two episodes jammed together that, give or take the large scale of a couple of its setpieces, could’ve easily been done on TV, but maybe I’d better just stick to the music.)

Themes are quickly established for the multiple angles of attack of the story: the Tomin/Vala angle gets its own motif, the SG-1 team gets its own noble sound, and the Ori get to sound like big, dark trouble, which is somehow appropriate. Later in the proceedings some ominous rumbling kicks in, which then turns into something more percussive for the somewhat surprising return of the Replicators. There are also themes for the Ancients and – to a certain extent – the Ark itself . However conceptually modest Ark‘s story may have been, the music is Widescreen with a capital W. It’s the same guy writing and arranging the music, but it probably doesn’t need to be said that Goldsmith goes to town with the opportunity to have real players, real instruments and real voices playing his material. To say that there’s a generous quantity of music here is an understatement – you get pretty much the entire score here, an hour of big orchestral/choral music for a direct-to-DVD movie with a running time of under two hours.

For a tiny label release, Ark Of Truth gets relatively lavish packaging too, with a booklet that extensively discusses the movie’s genesis, the team who produced it, and the long-standing relationship between the producers and Goldsmith, all lavishly illustrated. This material might not be here making for such a thick booklet, except that this was obviously a release catered to the fanbase of the show. 100 copies were autographed for those who ordered early from Goldsmith’s website, a window of opportunity which seemed to vanish like a closing wormhole, but faster.

Ark Of Truth has some great music, with something interesting always afoot even if it’s not thundering along on the musical equivalent of a war footing. One has to appreciate Joel Goldsmith taking the chance to not do this as a “composer promo,” which usually sees the studio quietly grumbling and looking the other way as a composer quietly releases a CD which serves as a resume piece (and, in more recent years, usually earns back its own production costs as it slips out into the hands of diehard fans). Instead, Goldsmith went to MGM and licensed it for a full release through his own label, with studio-4 out of 4sanctioned artwork and all – basically, putting whatever money he’d made from doing the music back into the studio’s coffers and taking a gamble that he’d make it back by putting the CD on the market. Hopefully – despite this being the age of Downloading Absolutely Everything Whether You’re Supposed To Or Not – the loyal fans make sure that gamble pays off, because I’m much more interested in the second SG-1 DVD movie, Continuum, and I’m eager to hear its soundtrack as well.

Order this CD

  1. The Decision (Main Title) (3:53)
  2. Dakara Discovery (2:06)
  3. Tomin (3:06)
  4. The Wrong Ark (3:36)
  5. My Notebook (1:55)
  6. Our Mission Begins (1:25)
  7. The Supergate (2:19)
  8. Meeting The Resistance (2:25)
  9. Sabotage (2:19)
  10. Replicator! (2:05)
  11. Merlin (2:07)
  12. Ori Fleet (3:39)
  13. The Doci (1:57)
  14. Journey To Celestis (2:09)
  15. The Battle Begins (2:34)
  16. Maternal Moment (2:20)
  17. The Healing (1:24)
  18. Morgan Le Fay (3:45)
  19. Marrick’s Demise (3:05)
  20. The Ark Of Truth (6:04)
  21. See The Light (0:54)
  22. Carter’s Cookies (2:19)
  23. A New Adventure (0:47)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 58:13

The Best Of Stargate SG-1

The Best Of Stargate SG-1A collection of suites from the first season of the show, The Best Of Stargate SG-1 paints a picture of the show in its infancy – and before Joel Goldsmith had cemented his place as the franchise’s composer-in-residence. Though after listening to the CD several times, it’s just possible that a case could be made that this CD shows why Goldsmith became the solo voice of Stargate.

Naturally, the CD opens with Goldsmith’s main theme for the movie, adapted from David Arnold’s original Stargate score. The first few tracks, however, present us with a completely different sound than what we’ve grown accustomed to. First up is a suite from The Enemy Within, composed by Star Trek’s Dennis McCarthy and frequent collaborator Kevin Kiner (who McCarthy came to rely on heavily during the last season of Star Trek: Enterprise, when budget constraints forced that series to all but abandon full orchestral scores). This music also sounds synthesized/sampled, but even so, it bears many of the hallmarks of McCarthy’s Star Trek scores – it’s rather nice, and maybe a bit more colorful than McCarthy was generally allowed to be with his Star Trek music.

Richard Band, who began his film scoring career with Joel Goldsmith on the movie Laserblast, contributes a score to Cold Lazarus, but in places it suffers from some slight cheesy-sounding synthesized instrument sounds; that wouldn’t be so distracting, except that the rest of the suites presented here seem to be a notch above it. (To be fair to Mr. Band, however, while this may stick out like a sore thumb on CD, I don’t recall it detracting from the episode itself.) Kevin Kiner flies solo with the scores for two episodes, Emancipation and The Torment Of Tantalus, the latter of which is up there with the best scores that the series has had. Its music is truly varied enough to merit this suite being the longest track on the CD, with the 1940s “period” scenes getting a touch of saxophone.

Longtime fans won’t find the sound they’re used to until the next track, Thor’s Hammer, which introduces a series of suites by Joel Goldsmith. Thor’s Hammer has a chaotic chorus that livens things up, and some passages strongly reminiscent of sections of the music from the then-recent Star Trek: First Contact, on which the junior Goldsmith collaborated with his father. The Nox has some lovely thematic material for the Nox themselves, with some shades of First Contact again creeping into the scenes featuring the Goa’uld. Hathor and Tin Man both show a playful side to Goldsmith’s scoring. Within The Serpent’s Grasp stands as Goldsmith’s crowning achievement of the first year, however, with outstanding action and suspense sections, and as a season cliffhanger it’s practically required to kick ass, and Goldsmith delivers. That’s why he’s got the job.

rating: 4 out of 4Overall, it’s a nice little selection of music from some of the first season’s standout episodes, displaying a musical diversity that the Stargate franchise has since abandoned. Though I might criticize them on their own musical merits, I find all of the tracks here enjoyable, and I sometimes wonder why some of these other composers haven’t been heard from again (aside from these scores being recycled into virtual “library music” for the first two seasons, a la the original Star Trek) – not that I’m complaining about Joel Goldsmith, mind you. Even just from Goldsmith’s scores, I could rattle off a list of 10 or 15 scores off the top of my head which could comprise a second Best Of Stargate SG-1 volume, though whether or not there’d be enough of a market to support it would be another question.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:03)
  2. The Enemy Within (6:46)
  3. Cold Lazarus (6:10)
  4. Emancipation (3:36)
  5. Torment Of Tantalus (10:14)
  6. Thor’s Hammer (7:33)
  7. The Nox (10:02)
  8. Hathor (6:45)
  9. Tin Man (6:57)
  10. Within The Serpent’s Grasp (8:43)
  11. Stargate SG-1 End Credits (0:58)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 59:27

Stargate Atlantis – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate Atlantis soundtrackLaunched in 2004 to an audience eager for even more Stargate adventures, Stargate Atlantis chronicles the adventures of a multi-national team of explorers from Earth who take up residence in a remarkably well-preserved oceanic city left behind the stargate-building race known only as the Ancients, finding themselves under attack from the same villains who drove the Ancients from that city millennia ago. With a cast of brand new characters (and one or two holdovers from SG-1), and numerous holdovers on the behind-the-scenes side of things, Atlantis proved to be a ratings success for the Sci-Fi Channel.

One of the creative personnel doing double duty on both shows every week is Joel Goldsmith, who has been the primary composer for SG-1 since its premiere. With Stargate Atlantis, Goldsmith finally gets to spread his wings and fly – more specifically, fly away from the themes and tone established by David Arnold in the original theatrical version of Stargate ten years ago. The adventure and the bombast are still there, but Goldsmith is no longer beholden to using Arnold’s music as a motif. Nowhere is this as evident as it is with the Emmy-nominated main title, easily the most gorgeous orchestral theme tune to hit TV since Goldsmith’s father Jerry took the podium to conduct the Star Trek: Voyager theme. The Atlantis theme is absolutely thrilling, soaring and heroic stuff with a choral middle section to die for (despite the fact that it seems to be a slight musical homage to the main theme from Star Blazers / Space Battleship Yamato). Why this theme lost the Emmy to Danny Elfman’s Desperate Housewives theme is probably just down to the name “Danny Elfman” – Atlantis has one of the best TV themes of recent years, hands-down. (Sci-Fi Channel, naturally, showed their appreciation by cutting it down to ten seconds for the first half of season two, ostensibly to sell more commercial time.)

The rest of the CD – containing cues from the score to the two-hour pilot episode The Rising – has music in a similarly sumptuous vein. Not all of it is necessarily full orchestral treatment though – “Messages”, covering a montage in which the various crew members say their goodbyes to their loved ones, is low-key and piano-driven (and still sneaks the main theme in there as a motif). And you can even hear a nod to David Arnold as the Stargate/SG-1 theme plays briefly during “Atlantis Wakes”.

If you’re looking for action cues, you’re in luck – “Rogue Drone” and “Dart Battle” should keep you very happy. And those with leanings toward horror movie music, just about any track with the word “Wraith” in the title is your ticket. In the end, I really find myself skipping only one track – “Tayla’s Village”, which gives the rating: 4 out of 4relatively primitive setting of that locale a very typical mixture of light tribal percussion and Celtic instrumentation that just doesn’t seem to fit what’s supposed to be an alien culture.

Overall, the Stargate Atlantis soundtrack will be a big hit with fans of the show, though I can give it a hearty thumbs-up for anyone who’s missing a bit of the old orchestral bombast in their SF TV scoring.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:04)
  2. Atlantis Takes Flight (1:41)
  3. Rogue Drone (2:29)
  4. Messages (2:29)
  5. Weir Speaks (2:28)
  6. Gate To Atlantis (2:28)
  7. Atlantis Wakes (3:32)
  8. Tayla’s Village (1:13)
  9. Wraith Abductions (3:19)
  10. The Hologram (2:15)
  11. The Rising (3:41)
  12. Wraith Lair (5:20)
  13. Dart Battle (3:29)
  14. The Rescue (2:35)
  15. O’Neill Inbound (1:24)
  16. Our New Home, Atlantis (2:01)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 42:11

Stargate – music by David Arnold

Stargate soundtrackAs a part of the movie, I’m very happy with David Arnold’s score for Stargate. It reflects the film’s blend of historical epic, contemporary military action, and futuristic SF adventure. It’s appropriately rousing during the battle scenes and it sets the mood for quieter moments. There is a fanfare here or a moment there that makes me think of John Williams, but that say more about how much I’ve internalized that work than anything else. The main themes are certainly distinct and memorable enough to stand the test of time, as their continued use in Stargate SG-1 would indicate.

As an album in its own right, however, I’m not sure how well the soundtrack works. This isn’t a reorganized concert suite, but a collection of 30 music cues from throughout the movie. Many of them are very short, about a minute or so in length. They just don’t have the chance to build up much momentum of their own or stand out as distinct pieces, especially since Arnold continually goes back to variations of the main themes. The longer pieces that do exist, like “The Stargate Opens”, are rather good at telling the story musically; I rating: 3 out of 4particularly like the loud build-up to the actual opening and then the quiet choral voices that reflect the shimmering open gate. The longest cue, “Battle At The Pyramid”, also flows very well and suggests the urgency and chaos of combat. But for the most part, this album tends to fade into background music for me, albeit very good background music.

Order this CD

  1. Stargate Overture (3:01)
  2. Giza, 1928 (2:10)
  3. Unstable (2:07)
  4. The Coverstones (0:58)
  5. Orion (1:29)
  6. The Stargate Opens (3:58)
  7. You’re on the Team (1:55)
  8. Entering the Stargate (2:57)
  9. The Other Side (1:44)
  10. Mastadge Drag (0:56)
  11. The Mining Pit (1:34)
  12. King of the Slaves (1:15)
  13. Caravan to Nagada (2:16)
  14. Daniel and Shauri (1:53)
  15. Symbol Discovery (1:15)
  16. Sarcophagus Opens (0:55)
  17. Daniel’s Mastadge (0:49)
  18. Leaving Nagada (4:09)
  19. Ra – The Sun God (3:22)
  20. The Destruction of Nagada (2:08)
  21. Myth, Faith, Belief (2:18)
  22. Procession (1:43)
  23. Slave Rebellion (1:00)
  24. The Seventh Symbol (0:57)
  25. Quartz Shipment (1:27)
  26. Battle at the Pyramid (5:02)
  27. We Don’t Want to Die (1:57)
  28. The Surrender (1:44)
  29. Kasuf Returns (3:06)
  30. Going Home (3:09)

Released by: Milan/BMG
Release date: 1994
Total running time: 64:46