Star Trek: The 50th Anniversary Collection

Star Trek: The 50th Anniversary CollectionIn the early ’90s, I was positively obsessed with Star Trek music – every new movie score released, any new television soundtracks that came along, anything was a cause for celebration, because I was in “maximum Trekkie” mode, and there never seemed to be enough of it.

Fast-forward a bit to the 21st century, in an era where we’re starving for the seemingly perpetually-delayed first new Star Trek TV series in a decade…and yet we’re positively drowning in music from the franchise’s glory days. I’ve gone from “not being to get enough Star Trek music” to “how in the hell do I organize this huge glut of music when I rip the latest box set worth of CDs to my hard drive straight out of the mail?”

Not that I’m complaining. The 50th Anniversary Collection from La-La Land Records is a fine buffet line adding to the embarrassment of riches we’ve gotten since 2009, a year during which the first J.J. Abrams movie (and yes, its soundtrack) came along, revitalized Trek as a media juggernaut, and convinced new Paramount music executive Randy Spendlove that maybe, just maybe, he should license some of the gems from the Trek music vaults to these specialty soundtrack labels that are clamoring to release it.

Rather than a laser-like focus on any one series, this four-disc set tries to patch some holes, right some wrongs, and answer some fannish prayers. The first disc consists, mostly, of remastered selections from the original series, piece of music of which better copies have been found since La-La Land’s monumental 2012 box set release of every note of music recorded for classic Trek. There are a few new 1960s gems as well: Wilbur Hatch’s “bumper” music, played over still slides of the Enterprise and the Star Trek logo as the show went to commercial during its broadcast premieres, is something I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. An alternate take of a cue from Star Trek: The Motion Picture also appears, but the big takeaway from disc one is the dialogue-free version of the end credits from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, a track which had previously only appeared on CD with the late Leonard Nimoy’s ethereal narration. Fans have been demanding this since Film Score Monthly released an otherwise complete Star Trek II score on CD in 2009, and at last, here it is.

The second disc, however, contains the box set’s biggest knock-me-over-with-a-feather surprises: virtually the entire music library from the 1973-74 Filmation animated Star Trek series, a segment of the franchise that’s often overlooked for no readily justifiable reason. These selections come courtesy not of a miraculous session tape find (stories have circulated for years about how the original tapes no longer exist), but from the box set’s restoration experts and producers painstakingly editing together all of the cues from the audio of the episodes themselves, meticulously splicing together dialogue-and-FX-free sections of music until they had the entire piece of music reconstructed. Fans have been trying to do this since the days of cassette tapes with moderate success, so to hear an expert reconstruction of this music is nothing short of amazing. (Sharp-eared Filmation fans will also recognize a lot of this music from its later reuse in the live-action series Jason Of Star Command.)

As the animated series’ music consists primarily of fairly short cues, the second disc is rounded out with Dennis McCarthy’s all-synth score from the PC game Star Trek: Borg (previously heard on a private-release CD sold by McCarthy himself) and something that I never would’ve anticipated hearing: new Ron Jones Star Trek music. Let me repeat, for emphasis: new Ron Jones Star Trek music. In 1991, Jones was effectively “let go” by the TNG producers for consistently pushing the bounds of both the show’s creative parameters and its music budget, and aside from scoring a couple of late ’90s computer games, Star Trek has been a thing that’s in Jones’ past…until he composed an original three-part concert suite that, free of having to match the timing or editing of film, simply conveys the spirit of Trek as Jones interpreted it. That music makes its debut as a recorded piece here, tacking a new coda onto Jones’ musical legacy with the franchise.

Discs three and four stay with TNG, offering highlights or nearly-complete scores from such episodes as Coming Of Age, Symbiosis, Contagion, The Bonding, The Hunted, Qpid, Tapestry, Parallels, and even the McCarthy-arranged cutdowns of Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme. There’s a nice slice of unreleased tracks from Jay Chattaway’s sophomore TNG effort, Tin Man (a score which, in many ways, he never topped); combined with the tracks released on CD by GNP Crescendo in the 1990s, you now have the entire score from Tin Man. The original synth demos for the Deep Space Nine and Voyager themes are heard for the first time, as well as the premiere of Jay Chattaway’s music from the “Klingon Encounter” ride at the much-missed Star Trek: The Experience attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton. A variety of source music is also made available – Q’s mariachi band from Deja Q, the Brahms string quartet piece from Sarek, and oddball source music from Voyager and Enterprise.

4 out of 4If nothing else on this box set has convinced you what a delightful dive into Trek’s musical deep cuts it is, the last track of the last disc should do it: it’s “Comminique (C)”, the piece of 1988 library techno music that graced TNG’s “next week” trailers in the early 1990s. Were thousands of Trek fans clamoring for this? Probably not, but La-La Land identified and licensed it for this set anyway.

The Star Trek 50th Anniversary Collection probably isn’t for the casual fan of Star Trek soundtracks. It’s for the obsessives, the diehards – the people who are still in “maximum Trekkie” mode and still can’t get enough of it.

Order this CDDisc 1 – Star Trek: The Original Series

  1. Third Season Theme Music – Main Title/End Title (soprano version, stereo) (1:14)
  2. Love Scene (1:15)
  3. Ship in Orbit (Big) (0:40)
  4. Sad and Thoughtful on Captain’s Theme (2:30)
  5. Captain Playoff No. 1 (Heavy) (0:08)
  6. Smooth Neutral Ship Theme (0:41)
  7. Playoff on M.T. Theme (0:23)
  8. Fight on Captain’s Theme (1:50)
  9. Captain Playoff No. 2 (Neutral—Slightly Ominous) (0:12)
  10. Stingers (0:51)
  11. New Sexy Exotic (2:17)
  12. Captain Playoff No. 3 (Sad and Alone) (0:20)
  13. Prime Specimen (“The Cage”) (3:13)
  14. Monster Illusion (“The Cage”) (2:34)
  15. Mr. Spock (“Captain’s Wig” From “The Naked Time”) (3:27)
  16. The Big Go (“The Naked Time”) (2:30)
  17. Mudd’s Perfidy (0:33)
  18. Zap the Cap (1:34)
  19. Zap the Cap take 1 (0:08)
  20. Zap the Cap take 2 (0:06)
  21. Zap the Spaceship (1:28)
  22. Zap the Spaceship (0:34)
  23. Zap the Spaceship (0:08)
  24. Ruk Attacks (1:41)
  25. 2nd Ruth (2:35)
  26. No Mind / Tense Meeting / Tracking the Alien / The Question (2:31)
  27. Survivors (1:42)
  28. Bottled (1:52)
  29. Monster Illusion (2:46)
  30. Monster Illusion (tag) (0:10)
  31. The Kibitzers (0:41)
  32. Vina’s Punishment (1:54)
  33. Vina’s Dance (1:53)
  34. Wrong Think (0:43)
  35. Act 1 Card (0:38)
  36. Crippled Ship (0:55)
  37. Speedy Reader (1:06)
  38. End Title (0:24)
  39. First Goner take 3 (0:48)
  40. First Goner take 4 (0:49)
  41. Dressing Down (0:08)
  42. Monitor Gizzard (0:14)
  43. Monitor Gizzard (0:09)
  44. Lazer Dazer (2:44)
  45. Dodo Girl (0:09)
  46. Drugged (1:23)
  47. Mace Fight (0:59)
  48. Mace Fight (0:18)
  49. Down the Throat (1:13)
  50. Arrows (1:25)
  51. Bumper (broadcast edit) (0:06)
  52. Bumpers (alternates) (0:25)
  53. Paramount Television I.D. (0:05)
  54. Paramount Television I.D. (alternate) (0:04)
  55. Inner Workings (alternate mix) (4:03)
  56. Star Trek II Epilogue / End Title (sans narration) (8:41)

Disc 2 – Star Trek: The Animated Series

  1. Title Theme (1:01)
  2. Captain’s Log (1:19)
  3. Something Ahead (0:54)
  4. Evasive Maneuvers (1:07)
  5. Sensor Data (1:07)
  6. Intercept Course (0:14)
  7. Fire Phasers (0:50)
  8. Enterprise Attacked (1:32)
  9. Illogical (0:13)
  10. Briefing (0:43)
  11. On the Viewscreen (1:02)
  12. New Heading (0:19)
  13. Scanning (0:54)
  14. Deflector Shields (0:19)
  15. Red Alert (0:33)
  16. Battle Stations (0:41)
  17. Surprise (0:07)
  18. Supplemental Log (0:49)
  19. Kirk’s Command (1:11)
  20. Sickbay (0:28)
  21. Library Computer (0:44)
  22. Full Power (0:28)
  23. Approaching Coordinates (0:08)
  24. The Bigger Meaning (1:15)
  25. Trouble in Engineering (0:29)
  26. Spock’s Analysis (0:42)
  27. Enterprise Wins the Space Race (0:43)
  28. McCoy’s Summary (0:16)
  29. Just Another Stardate (0:39)
  30. Ongoing Mission (0:18)
  31. Title Theme (alternate mix) (1:01)
  32. Sensor Data (alternate mix) (1:02)
  33. Enterprise Attacked (alternate opening) (1:42)
  34. Scanning (alternate mix) (0:54)
  35. Turbolift Music (0:29)
  36. Mr. Arex Lends an Extra Hand (0:38)
  37. Fascinating (0:17)
  38. Don’t Mess With M’Ress (0:22)
  39. Oh My (0:17)
  40. Spock’s Quick Analysis (0:22)
  41. Yellow Alert (0:26)
  42. Off Duty (0:15)
  43. Suite: Stingers and Act-Out Music (2:03)
    Music inspired by Star Trek – Ron Jones
  44. The Ascent (7:43)
  45. Meaning (2:27)
  46. Pathway to the Stars (3:17)
    Star Trek: Borg – Dennis McCarthy
  47. Main Theme (1:02)
  48. The Legend of the Borg (1:24)
  49. Battle at Wolf 359 (2:58)
  50. The Battle Rages (0:58)
  51. Club Q (0:55)
  52. I Am Berman of Borg (1:36)
  53. Goldsmith Has Been Assimilated! (1:37)
  54. Welcome to the Collective Cadet (2:22)
  55. Searching the Borg Ship (2:20)
  56. Time Is Running Out (1:17)
  57. Escape From the Borg Collective (1:42)
  58. Borg Hell (2:03)
  59. You Will Be Assimilated, Have a Nice Day (2:21)
  60. “Resistance Is Futile, My Ass!” / Finale (7:25)
  61. End Titles (1:03)

Disc 3 – Star Trek: The Next Generation

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title (1st season, alternate take) (1:48)
    Coming Of Age
  2. Physics / Shuttle Fuss (3:35)
  3. Air Bounce (2:04)
  4. Competition (2:14)
  5. Decisions (2:04)
    Symbisos
  6. Flares (3:04)
  7. Precious Cargo (2:10)
  8. Four Out of Six (1:03)
    Unnatural Selection
  9. Searchin’ (1:10)
    The Measure Of A Man
  10. Memories (1:19)
    Contagion
  11. U.S.S. Yamato / Vaporized (1:22)
  12. Floral Tea / Otis’ Revenge (2:07)
  13. Romulan Misfire / Phasers / Escape / Goodbye Iconia (2:27)
    The Survivors
  14. Diversion (2:16)
    The Bonding
  15. Dad / Mom’s Double (2:04)
  16. Release / Ceremonial Worf / Off Into Space (4:01)
    The Enemy
  17. Into the Pit (3:01)
    The Hunted
  18. Escape Artist / Melee (3:28)
  19. Breakout (0:32)
  20. Phased / Geordi (4:14)
  21. Confronted / To the Stars (3:30)
    Sins Of The Father
  22. Condemned (1:22)
    Transfigurations
  23. Lookin’ Fine (1:44)
  24. Lazarus (3:48)
  25. Choke Hold / Explanatory / El Ascencio (5:11)
    Future Imperfect
  26. Delusionary (4:08)
    Tapestry
  27. Saint Q (2:05)
  28. It’s a Wonderful Life / Deja Vuosity / War Stories (3:18)
    Parallels
  29. Instant Family (2:42)
  30. Wolfman Riker (3:09)
    Trailer music
  31. Theme From Star Trek: The Motion Picture (30-second version) (0:33)

Disc 4

    Theme From Star Trek (“Gene Roddenberry 1921–1991” unused alternate) (0:10)
    Tin Man

  1. Soft / Student (1:04)
  2. Unique / Welcome / Data (0:48)
  3. Problems / Land of Living (1:41)
  4. Scared (broadcast version) (0:47)
  5. One Way Trip (1:08)
  6. All of It (0:57)
    Deja Q
  7. Tractor Moon / Hoisted (2:58)
  8. La Paloma (traditional) (1:13)
  9. Coffin Spike (0:45)
    Captain’s Holiday
  10. Planet Vegas (1:12)
    Qpid
  11. Hat Trick / Sir Guy / Nottingham Castle / Maid Marian (unused) / Betrayed (3:21)
  12. To the Block / Swordplay / Game’s Over (4:16)
  13. Adieu (1:04)
  14. Plucking Three (0:13)
    Elementary, Dear Data
  15. Sherlock Tones (0:55)
  16. Dead End / Turtleback (2:36)
  17. Short Goodbye (1:21)
    Ship In A Bottle
  18. Holo Tolodo! (4:02)
    Clues
  19. Peace Dividends / Gloria / Blown Away (1:39)
    Manhunt
  20. Juke Boxer (3:29)
  21. How High the Moon (3:36)
    Star Trek: First Contact
  22. Moonlight Becomes You (2:55)
    Unification II
  23. Andorian Blues (0:37)
  24. Aktuh and Maylota (0:49)
  25. Melor Famigal (0:58)
    Lessons
  26. Picard and Nella, Date #1 (Picard’s Cabin) (2:43)
  27. Picard and Nella, Date #2 (Jefferies Tube) (2:22)
    Sarek
  28. Sextet #1 in B-flat Major, Op. 18 (II, Andante) (1:53)
    Star Trek: The Experience
  29. Klingon Encounter (4:24)
  30. Borg Invasion 4D (7:22)
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  31. Main Title Demo (1:59)
  32. Single Bridge Demo (2:24)
    Star Trek: Voyager
  33. Main Title Demo (1:51)
  34. Lookover / Maiden Voyager (1:34)
  35. Opera Alla Alienosity (1:11)
    Star Trek: Enterprise
  36. Dance-O-Matic (2:28)
    Trailer music
  37. Communique (C) (2:33)

Released by: La-La Land Record
Release date: November 25, 2016
Disc one total running time: 1:16:13
Disc two total running time: 1:17:23
Disc three total running time: 1:18:57
Disc four total running time: 1:18:57
Box set total running time: 5:16:50

Star Trek: Music From The Video Games

Star Trek: Music From The Video GamesBSX Records has made something of a niche for itself with its series of re-arrangements (or more sweeping reinterpretations) of soundtrack music, whether its albums fixate on specific franchises such as Battlestar Galactica or Twilight, or the works of specific composers. One of BSX’s primary collaborators on these “cover” albums, synth wizard Dominik Hauser, turns his attention to the playable side of the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek: Music From The Video Games.

A long overdue side-step into the non-televised Trek universe, this collection focuses primarily on the games’ theme music, with only one game (Star Trek: Borg, composed by Trek TV composer Dennis McCarthy) deemed worthy of wider exposure. This is a bit of a pity: the original recordings of Star Trek: Borg‘s entire score have already been released by McCarthy, while games with very nice scores (Elite Force springs instantly to mind, since its theme music is represented here) still have no official score release. Hauser’s modern takes on McCarthy’s Borg soundtrack are quite nice, since he’s working with better synths and samples than McCarthy had at his disposal in the 1990s, but some of the other games’ scores could’ve used some of the same TLC.

Another oddity I have to question is the Star Trek: Bridge Commander theme – it’s basically the end credit suite from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with no original material specific to the game. Surely something that isn’t already in wide release could have filled that space.

3 out of 4BSX could mine this corner of the Star Trek universe again easily. Most of the Star Trek video and computer games have fine scores that have not been released in any way that the average Trek music fan can access, leaving a rich vein of material to choose from. Despite my reservations about this release, though it’s expertly arranged and performed, I hope it is but the first of a series whose future volumes may prove to be much more interesting.

Order this CD

  1. Star Trek: Online Main Title (2:41)
  2. Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Main Title (4:08)
  3. Star Trek: Starfleet Command Main Title (3:53)
  4. Star Trek: Starfleet Command III Main Title (1:11)
  5. Star Trek: Legacy Main Title (2:24)
  6. Star Trek: Legacy – Kirk’s Theme (2:34)
  7. Star Trek: Aramada II Main Title (2:03)
  8. Star Trek The Next Generation: Birth of the Federation (1:19)
  9. Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Main Title (1:50)
  10. Star Trek: Away Team – Introduction (1:47)
  11. Star Trek: Klingon Honor Guard – Kelshar (2:44)
  12. Star Trek: Klingon – Warrior’s Poem (2:19)
  13. Star Trek: Bridge Commander Main Title (4:07)

    Complete score from Star Trek: Borg

  14. Main Title (1:05)
  15. Legend of the Borg (1:25)
  16. Battle at Wolf 359 (2:57)
  17. The Battle Rages (0:58)
  18. Club Q (1:00)
  19. I Am Berman of Borg (1:39)
  20. Goldsmith Has Been Assimilated (1:38)
  21. Welcome to the Collective, Cadet (2:25)
  22. Searching the Borg Ship (2:23)
  23. Time is Running Out (1:19)
  24. Escape from the Borg Collective (1:45)
  25. Borg Hell (2:02)
  26. You Will be Assimilated. Have a Nice Day (2:24)
  27. Resistance is Futile, My Ass! (2:57)
  28. Finale (4:33)
  29. End Title (1:04)

Released by: BSX Records / Buysoundtrax.com
Release date: 2013
Total running time: 64:34

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – music by Kevin Kiner

Having reviewed the music from nearly the entire prequel trilogy “sight unseen” (i.e. without seeing the movie first), I thought I could get away with it again here, with the soundtrack to the CG-animated movie The Clone Wars. It may turn out that this wasn’t a good idea, because the soundtrack is as much a departure from everything that has gone before it as the film itself.

What sets The Clone Wars apart from the prequel and original trilogies is that it was done entirely in the computer. One could argue that no camera ever rolled on large chunks of Episode II and Episode III as well, but with Clone Wars there’s not even a pretense of photorealism – the characters are now seen in a stylized, animé-inspired light, and the only actors involved are voice actors. It would seem that the entirely-computer-generated scenes of the prequel trilogy were just a stepping stone.

The music marks a significant departure from the rest of the saga as well. For one of the very few times in the Star Wars franchise’s history, it has been decided to go with a composer other than John Williams, although of course the new maestro may make use of Williams’ themes from time to time. In this case, the new musical voice of Star Wars is provided by Kevin Kiner, who has scored several films and TV shows on his own (such as the Leprechaun movies and Stargate SG-1), and served a vital role in the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise when the show’s budget cuts forced its composers to fall back on synths and samples instead of real orchestral instruments; Kiner teamed up with longtime Trek composer Dennis McCarthy and fleshed out McCarthy’s music into synth-orchestral life. The best example of this available on record may be on McCarthy’s privately-released Star Trek: Borg soundtrack, whose last three tracks are explosive, memorable stuff that you’d swear was performed by a huge ensemble. Kiner is, in fact, that good.

But from the first moments of music on the Clone Wars soundtrack, it’s clear that the musical vocabulary of Star Wars is changing along with the visual vocabulary. The music is a complete departure from the traditional opening of a Star Wars film, and though Williams’ immortal theme tune is quoted, it’s quoted in an unfamiliar context. For those of us who are rushing toward (or past) the age of 40 like the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run, it could be seen as a sign that this isn’t our Star Wars anymore – this is Star Wars for our kids.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the early track “Obi-Wan To The Rescue”, which breaks right out of the romantic-orchestral mode into a staccato barrage of electric guitar. To be fair, screaming guitars could be heard woven into the orchestral textures of Episode II‘s wild chase through the “streets” of Coruscant, but here, it’s front and center, and instead of being an exotic flavoring, it’s rock ‘n’ roll. Similarly, tracks such as “Ziro’s Nightclub Band” and “Seedy City Swing” don’t attempt to view earthly music through a somewhat alien prism (a la Williams’ “Cantina Band” cues) – they’re on-the-nose earthly music with no pretensions of being anything but. Given that this installment of the franchise – and it subsequent TV incarnation, which will also be scored by Kiner – seems to be aimed at a younger audience, I’m not saying that these more traditional, not-so-otherworldly treatments are bad. They server their purpose as a kind musical shorthand for the action they accompany.

And yet, with cues like “Destroying The Shield”, you’d swear Williams was at the conductor’s podium – Kiner’s original pieces, for the most part, do not sound out of place next to the rest of the saga. This is partly why I listened to the soundtrack before seeing the movie: I wanted to see if the music would work just fine if there were real actors on the screen in costume. It’s not like this is John Williams meets Carl Stalling. There’s nothing I can think of that stands out as “cartoon music.” Slightly cliched bits of source music? Sure. Maybe all of a couple of minutes’ worth. This is why we have “next track” buttons.

Those expecting wholesale use of Williams’ themes all over the place, however, may be surprised – Kiner develops his own themes across the board, and while there are occasionally hints of the musical signatures originated by Williams, you don’t get big, obvious quotations of the original Star Wars themes until the very end, when some really neat variations on “The Imperial March” and the Ben Kenobi/Force theme roll out. By this time, you’ve grown so accustomed to not hearing a lot of the Williams material that their appearance comes as a shock, which is a neat effect.

Fans of Star Wars music will probably square off along a love/hate battle line to which no skirmish between clones and battle droids can compare when it comes to this album. With its orchestral-plus-occasional-rock-and-techno-beats style, this is post-Matrix Star Wars music. Oddly enough, fans who have already had their palates cleansed in advance by some of the better Star Wars game music of the past 10 years, from Force Commander’s rockin’ remixes to Empire At War’s stew of original material and Williams quotations, will be primed for this approach; those who have stuck to nothing but the original six film scores may be shocked.

4 out of 4The story of Star Wars, and its music, are under new management (though with George Lucas standing over everyone’s shoulder, clearly with the approval of the old guard), making new Star Wars stories for a new audience. And going by this first installment, there really isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that. It’s cracking good adventure movie music with a few nods back to some old favorites. Star Wars was such a boon to my generation when we were in our single digits – it single-handedly got me fascinated with the visual medium, orchestral music, and the concept of space as a whole, all of which have stayed with me my entire life. So even if this is the sound of Star Wars for our kids…that’s cool. They should be so lucky to have that same kind of inspiration.

Order this CD

  1. A Galaxy Divided (1:13)
  2. Admiral Yularen (0:56)
  3. Battle Of Christophsis (3:19)
  4. Meet Ahsoka (2:44)
  5. Obi-Wan To The Rescue (1:24)
  6. Sneaking Under The Shield (4:24)
  7. Jabba’s Palace (0:46)
  8. Anakin Vs. Dooku (2:18)
  9. Landing On Teth (1:43)
  10. Destroying The Shield (3:08)
  11. B’omarr Monastery (3:10)
  12. Battle Strategy (3:07)
  13. The Shield (1:36)
  14. Battle Of Teth (2:45)
  15. Jedi Don’t Run! (1:22)
  16. Obi-Wan’s Negotiation (2:07)
  17. The Jedi Council (2:04)
  18. Ahsoka (3:39)
  19. Jabba’s Chamber Dance (0:42)
  20. Ziro Surrounded (2:20)
  21. Scaling The Cliff (0:46)
  22. Ziro’s Nightclub Band (0:53)
  23. Seedy City Swing (0:34)
  24. Escape From The Monastery (3:12)
  25. Infiltrating Ziro’s Lair (2:21)
  26. Courtyard Fight (2:41)
  27. Dunes Of Tatooine (2:00)
  28. Rough Landing (3:03)
  29. Padme Imprisoned (0:50)
  30. Dooku Speaks With Jabba (1:28)
  31. Fight To The End (3:59)
  32. End Credits (0:51)

Released by: Sony Classical
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 67:23

Star Trek: Borg – music by Dennis McCarthy

Star Trek: BorgComposed to accompany the 1996 CD-ROM game Star Trek: Borg, the music on this CD was recently released by Dennis McCarthy, who also composed more episodes of the various Star Trek spinoffs than anyone else. However, if you’re expecting more of that relatively sedate sound here, you may be in for a shock. Star Trek: Borg may have looked like a television episode, what with John de Lancie starring and Jonathan Frakes directing, but freed from the restrictions usually placed on the scoring of Star Trek TV episodes, the music is quite a bit more involved than you may be expecting.

While Borg lacked the restrictions of the TV series’ music, it also lacked the budget that the TV series – at least in 1996 – lavished on music. McCarthy relies on frequent-flyer collaborator Kevin Kiner to bring his orchestrated score to life, and if there’s really a weak point with the Borg soundtrack, that’s where it is, but more due to the state of synthesizer/sequencer technology than the talent involved. (McCarthy and Kiner collaborated on many future projects where their music had to be synthesized instead of played by a real orchestra, including McCarthy’s Stargate SG-1 scores and, ultimately, the reduced-budget final season of Star Trek: Enterprise.) The orchestral textures just aren’t quite “real,” though it’s no exaggeration to say that the technology to achieve this has improved by leaps and bounds since 1996.

The style is also very different from McCarthy’s usual Trek “house style,” with some of the short cues almost resembling some of Jerry Goldsmith’s “spacedock” music from the first Star Trek movie (including one cue explicitly labeled “Goldsmith Has Been Assimilated”). The synth-chorus as a signature sound for the Borg is also revived here as well. There’s a recurring “orchestral stab” sound also used in conjunction with the Borg, but without the accompanying visuals, this makes the music sound like a late ’80s/early ’90s horror movie score. There are a few hints of McCarthy’s trademark panoramic chords from his TV Treks, but overall it’s very different.

The final three tracks are comprised of music McCarthy created for the “Borg Invasion 4-D” ride at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Star Trek Experience, and there’s a huge world of difference here (then again, we’re talking about an 8-year gap). The Borg Invasion suites are some of the most invigorating music I’ve heard from Dennis McCarthy, sounding both more like his usual Trek TV music and less like it (with pulsating guitar samples and almost Matrix-y passages) at the same time. The series would’ve benefitted tremendously from allowing him to cut loose on the music like this.

One can only hope that maybe the composer can sneak out some of the better examples of his Star Trek TV music on CD in private pressings like this, though from a rights perspective, there’s probably a vast difference 3 out of 4in doing that with this material and music composed for TV shows that are still, on DVD at least, a going concern. There are quite a few I could nominate (namely “The Homecoming” / “The Circle” / “The Siege” trilogy that opened Deep Space Nine’s second season) but only time will tell if Dennis McCarthy will keep sneaking gems from the Star Trek music archives out of the vaults for us. At the time of this writing, Star Trek: Borg is still available from the composer’s web site.

Order this CD

  1. Main Theme (1:02)
  2. The Legend Of The Borg (1:24)
  3. Battle At Wolf 359 (2:58)
  4. The Battle Rages (0:58)
  5. Club Q (0:55)
  6. “I Am Berman Of Borg” (1:37)
  7. “Goldsmith Has Been Assimilated!” (1:37)
  8. “Welcome To The Collective, Cadet” (2:21)
  9. Searching The Borg Ship (2:21)
  10. Time Is Running Out (1:17)
  11. Escape From The Borg Collective (1:44)
  12. Borg Hell (2:03)
  13. “You Will Be Assimilated, Have A Nice Day” (2:21)
  14. “Resistance Is Futile, My Ass!” / Finale (7:28)
  15. End Titles (1:02)
  16. Borg Invasion Suite Part 1 (6:32)
  17. Borg Invasion Suite Part 2 (2:51)
  18. Borg Invasion Suite Part 3 (7:24)

Released by: DennisMcCarthy.com
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 48:21

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