Human Target – music by Bear McCreary

Based on the comic of the same name, Fox’s TV series Human Target may have already set a record: according to Variety, its music was recorded by the largest orchestra assembled for an American TV series in well over ten years. Human Target isn’t a terribly high-profile project, and Fox doesn’t reach deep into its pockets for no reason; that huge orchestra was hired because of the acclaimed composer handling the music: Battlestar Galactica alumnus Bear McCreary. It’s a pretty good bet that McCreary’s name is what got this music released, too: Warner Bros. Watertower Music label released two CDs worth of music as a digital download, while McCreary’s home label La-La Land Records unleashed a 1,200 copy run of a 3-CD set covering everything in Watertower’s digital release and then some, including a few work-in-progress sketches created as precursors to the orchestral sessions.

McCreary’s music is flat-out, unabashed action music of a kind that hasn’t been heard since John Williams was in the business of scoring every blockbuster that wasn’t assigned to Jerry Goldsmith. There are, in fact, a few passages of music that bring Star Wars instantly to mind. McCreary establishes the Human Target theme up front in the extended version of the main titles, and uses it as a motif in many, if not most, of the cues from the show’s episodes. Other themes begin to recur for the show’s ensemble of characters.

And if you’re wondering if it makes any difference that this music was recorded by the largest orchestra to record TV music in ages, fear not – you can tell. The balls-to-the-wall action scenes have the kind of full-blooded feel that samples and synths just can’t quite cut (at least not without sounding like a wall of synths). There are still some synthesizers in the mix, along with the usual suspects (i.e. Oingo Boingo alum Steve Bartek on guitar) and the kind of big percussion for which McCreary became known on Galactica, but the orchestra is front and center in the mix. (And for the record, it really doesn’t sound anything like Galactica.)

The show itself failed to grab me, but I continue to find myself humming bits of the soundtrack here and there, occasionally from episodes I didn’t even see. A major turnover of behind-the-scenes personnel between Human Target’s two seasons on the air left both 4 out of 4its original showrunner and McCreary out in the cold, and there seems to be little disagreement that the result was something less watchable (which eventually led to its cancellation) and certainly less listenable. And it’s perhaps just as well: the quality of McCreary’s work makes every released soundtrack a calling card, and it can’t be too long before steady feature work is more prominent than TV scoring on his resume, because this is big-screen-worthy music.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Theme from ‘Human Target’ (long version) (1:31)
  2. Skydive (5:19)
  3. No Threats (4:17)
  4. Military Camp Rescue (4:37)
  5. Motorcycle Escape (5:29)
  6. Monastery in the Mountains (1:41)
  7. Paint a Bullseye (2:19)
  8. The Katherine Walters File (4:30)
  9. Switching Sides (6:09)
  10. This is Awkward (2:11)
  11. The Russian Embassy (3:32)
  12. The Devil’s Mouth (1:21)
  13. Ice Cubes (2:05)
  14. Allyson’s Past (3:05)
  15. Flipping the Plane (10:53)
  16. Driving Away (0:48)
  17. Airborne and Lethal (3:34)
  18. Chance’s Old Boss (3:54)
  19. Old Chance (2:14)
  20. Skyhook Rescue (7:05)
  21. Into the West (1:35)

    Disc Two

  22. New York City Arrival (1:52)
  23. Train Fight (3:33)
  24. Baptiste (2:39)
  25. Tango Fight (1:27)
  26. Maria and Chance (2:35)
  27. Katherine’s Killer (4:10)
  28. Confronting Baptiste (8:51)
  29. Courthouse Brawl (5:09)
  30. Stop Running (3:08)
  31. Not a Pacifist (0:46)
  32. Bullet Train (1:56)
  33. Gondola (8:43)
  34. An Old Life (3:21)
  35. Lockdown (5:02)
  36. A Bottle of Japanese Whisky (1:34)
  37. Victoria (3:29)
  38. The New Champion (5:56)
  39. Emma Barnes (3:10)
  40. Stephanie’s Ring (1:50)
  41. Port Yard Deaths (2:52)
  42. The New Christopher Chance (6:34)
  43. Theme from ‘Human Target’ [Short version] (0:40)

    Disc Three

  44. Flight Attendant Wilson (0:49)
  45. Round One (3:25)
  46. Emma’s Bra (2:24)
  47. Maria Gallego (1:58)
  48. Afraid in Alaska (1:21)
  49. Guerrero and Sergei (2:51)
  50. Chance Takes the Job (0:54)
  51. Tracking Device (3:03)
  52. The Black Room (1:41)
  53. Fighting Kendrick Taylor (1:27)
  54. Bertram (6:59)
  55. Sparring Guerrero (1:46)
  56. Scar Stories (3:35)
  57. Danny’s Killer (2:42)
  58. Chaos in the Cockpit (5:49)
  59. A Mistake (0:50)
  60. Chance’s Theme (Sketch Version 1) (1:17)
  61. Chance’s Theme (Sketch Version 2) (1:44)
  62. Katherine’s Theme (Solo Piano Version) (1:48)
  63. Theme from Human Target (Alternate Short Version) (0:38)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 78:16
Disc two total running time: 79:23
Disc three total running time: 47:11

Dark Void – music by Bear McCreary

Dark Void - music by Bear McCrearyBest known for his densely percussive music for the revival of Battlestar Galactica, composer Bear McCreary makes no secret of his lifelong love of video games. If anything, that fixation is on display: a picture published on his blog several years ago reveals that the external hard drives containing the raw recording sound files of his sessions aren’t labeled with numbers or obvious names like “Galactica sessions”… instead, they’re named after characters from Capcom‘s Mega Man games, complete with colorful labels. So it’s fitting that Capcom should give McCreary his first shot at scoring a video game – but Dark Void definitely doesn’t sound like Mega Man.

For one thing, McCreary refused to back down on his requirements for a real orchestra, real percussionists, and so on; Dark Void‘s music budget almost certainly took off like it had a jetpack of its own… but hey, it’s Bear McCreary. Sales of the soundtrack album almost certainly recouped what was an unusually large music budget for a video game – even in this day and age of games whose costs run into the millions of dollars and years of development.

And the music itself? Put simply, if you loved McCreary’s music for the Galactica finale, Daybreak (which is also out on CD), you’ll dig Dark Void. The music is fairly different – there aren’t any melodic similarities between Galactica’s heroic musical warfare and Dark Void‘s wistful main theme. But the execution is similar: the same blend of orchestra, a wall of exotic percussion and unusual instruments gives it the same feel as Galactica, without playing identical music.

And as for the 8-bit Mega Man tunes McCreary fell in love with before his mega-career in film music kicked off? He does chiptunes too (though we knew that from the Eureka soundtrack): the album closes out with an authentic, NES-style rendition of the Dark Void theme. McCreary did this track on his own time as an in-joke for the folks at Capcom, and they wound up inventing an entire extra game around it (the equally 8-bit-flavored DSware title Dark Void Zero, 4 out of 4which will have its own full soundtrack release as well). Talk about a composer influencing the project he’s working on!

Whether or not you’ve played the game, Dark Void is an outstanding treat for McCreary fans who may be mourning the end of “the Galactica sound.” The Dark Void score is like an unexpected encore at the end of a great concert.

Order this CD

  1. Theme From Dark Void (2:56)
  2. Prologue and Main Title (2:10)
  3. Village Attack (1:47)
  4. A Mysterious Jungle (4:20)
  5. Altar Sacrifice (1:09)
  6. Archon (3:19)
  7. Ava and the Rocket (2:01)
  8. Tesla’s Laboratory (1:21)
  9. The Prophesized One (2:58)
  10. Taking Flight (2:21)
  11. Crash Site (3:09)
  12. Void Requiem (7:49)
  13. Ava and Tesla Return (0:47)
  14. Above The Canopy (5:01)
  15. Hieroglyphs and Betrayal (3:03)
  16. Defending The Ark (5:45)
  17. The Collector (3:18)
  18. Survivor Camp Combat (6:17)
  19. The Watcher Airship (2:52)
  20. Watcher Prison (3:19)
  21. The Imperator (1:22)
  22. Will and Ava (1:52)
  23. The Dweller (3:46)
  24. Ava’s Sacrifice (3:17)
  25. Will At The River (0:38)
  26. Dark Void End Credits (2:02)
  27. Discuss it in our forum

  28. Theme from Dark Void (Mega Version Bonus Track) (1:53)

Released by: Sumthing
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 79:33

Battlestar Galactica: Razor / The Plan – music by Bear McCreary

Battlestar Galactica: Razor / The PlanThe new Battlestar Galactica gets one final hurrah in this soundtrack release covering the two made-for-DVD (and later broadcast on TV as a bit of an afterthought) movies, Razor and The Plan. Unlike earlier “season” soundtracks from the series, which followed a more or less chronological progression, this album becomes a bit more of a concept piece just by the novelty of its sequencing.

I hadn’t thought about it before seeing the CD’s track listing, but Razor and The Plan share a common story element: both show us the flip-side of past events that we’d either witnessed only from the perspective of Galactica’s crew, or heard about second-hand. Both movies’ flashbacks chronicle the Cylon destruction of the Twelve Colonies: The Plan shows it from the ground, Razor shows the destruction of the main Colonial shipyard (and the escape of one solitary battlestar). Composer Bear McCreary therefore took the unconventional approach of sequencing tracks in strict chronological order from inside the story: the tracks from both movies’ scenes of the Colonies’ destruction are grouped together, for example. With Razor and The Plan having been made and released a year apart, you might not expect much cohesion, but thanks to McCreary’s thoughtful approach to scoring the Galactica saga, everything fits together better than you might think.

The chief exception to this chronological ordering scheme is the first track, which is actually the end credit music from The Plan. Starting with a solo vocal version of the show’s main theme, “Apocalypse” quickly gets around to showing off its main feature, a crunchy heavy metal guitar riff by Anthrax axeman (and Galactica fan) Scott Ian. Much has been made of Ian’s contribution, and it’s a fairly unique sound for Galactica; the guitar work in the rest of the series has largely been done by Oingo Boingo’s Steve Bartek, and has been fairly intricate even when in screaming/searing mode. Ian’s guitar work is, by comparison, less ornamented – but with the unstoppable approach of the Cylons, maybe that’s the point: it’s the musical equivalent of the brutal bootsteps of an invading army. If you like the studio version of “Apocalypse” – which also appears in the extended, two-part version used within The Plan itself – there’s a great live version, performed by McCreary and the BSG Orchestra, that closes the album out.

But “Apocalypse” is an oddball here; much of the music from Razor and The Plan is what we’ve come to expect from McCreary’s nearly-unerring dramatic and musical sensibilities. Highlights include the attack on the Colonial shipyards (from which Pegasus narrowly escapes) in Razor, the whole “[insert planet name here] is burning!” sequence from The Plan, and the reappearance of Stu Phillips’ original Galactica theme in Razor‘s young-Adama-vs.-Cylon-parachutist flashback. Though it probably flies under most people’s radar here, I was also delighted to hear McCreary’s beautiful theme for Caprica from Daybreak resurface toward the end of The Plan‘s “Main Title” track.

For Galactica fans, this release neatly caps off the show’s musical canon; both movies sound like the series of which they are a part, and yet they also sound unique in their own right. But the inventive 4 out of 4sequencing which mixes-and-matches moments from both movies (though it never puts cues from both movies in the same track) reminds us that the similarities are greater than the differences – if there was a message to the whole show by the time The Plan‘s end credits rolled, I think that was it. As always, highly recommended.

By the way, if the live track at the end is a taster for a potential BSG Orchestra live album, I think that’d be a dandy thing to hear. Just sayin’.

Order this CD

  1. Apocalypse featuring Raya Yarbrough (4:07)
  2. Razor Main Title (2:13)
  3. Arriving At Pegasus (2:26)
  4. The Plan Main Title (4:34)
  5. Attack On The Scorpion Shipyards (3:37)
  6. Apocalypse, Part I (6:37)
  7. Apocalypse, Part II (2:36)
  8. Pegasus Aftermath (4:10)
  9. Kendra’s Memories (2:43)
  10. Mayhem On The Colonies (3:28)
  11. Civilian Standoff On The Scylla (2:57)
  12. Husker In Combat (1:54)
  13. Major Kendra Shaw (5:02)
  14. Cavil Kills and Cavil Spares featuring Raya Yarbrough (2:13)
  15. The Hybrid Awaits (2:43)
  16. Kendra And The Hybrid (6:06)
  17. Princes Of The Universe (3:57)
  18. Starbuck’s Destiny (0:41)
  19. Apocalypse (Live) (6:23)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 68:27

Caprica – music by Bear McCreary

CapricaI’m reviewing this slightly out of order, as it was released a few months before the Battlestar Galactica Season 4 soundtrack (which runs a damn good chance of being the best film music release, by anyone, in any medium, anywhere this year), and indeed I listened to Caprica before the Galactica soundtrack arrived. I held back on a review to see if a closer listen to both at the same time would reveal more connecting tissue, musically speaking, than there appears to be at first.

On reflection, though, I’m not sure why I’d expect there to be; Capirca isn’t Galactica. It’s a landlubber show as opposed to its spacefaring forebear, serving as a prequel to Galactica, with its events taking place over half a century before the destruction of the twelve colonies. Musically, it’s more traditional than Galactica; as the show takes place in a society that’s modeled somewhat on post-WWII America (except that there are maglev trains and interplanetary travel, and racial and political tensions to go with them), the music is in a minimalist orchestral vein. The exotic instrumentation of Galactica is replaced with a more traditional string ensemble here.

That’s not to say that there aren’t hints of Galactica here and there; a few tracks in particular jump out as being the very connecting tissue I was looking for. Galactica’s wall-of-percussion sound returns for three key scenes: “Terrorism On The Lev”, “Zoe Awakens” and “Cybernetic Life Form Node”. All three of these cues accompany pivotal moments that are just the beginning of putting Caprica on the road to hell, and two of them involve the very first Cylon.

There’s a subtler reference back to Galactica with the instrumentation of “Monotheism At The Athena Academy”, hinting at the “ancient” Mediterranean sound of Caprica’s predecessor, and an overt reference in “The Adama Name”, which is a warm, string-based rendition of “Wander My Friends”, a song from Galactica’s first season which became the theme for Bill Adama (not coincidentally, this music accompanies virtually the only major scene in Caprica’s pilot movie for Adama, who’s still a child at this point).

Much – if not most – of the rest of the score revolves around variations on “The Graystone Family”, the first thing you hear on the CD. And indeed that family’s story is absolutely vital to Caprica, but the funereal tone of the soundtrack here makes it all seem to blur together at times. I’m reluctant to pass judgement on the Caprica soundtrack because it is just the pilot – think about how much bearing the soundtrack from the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries has on, say, the music from the series finale. (And at the same time, if that same downer “feel” pervades the show and not just the music, I might pass on Caprica altogether.)

3 out of 4The booklet accompanying the CD gives the impression that Galactica house composer Bear McCreary wasn’t necessarily considered a shoo-in for the job on Caprica. But at the same time, there’s no reason for him to not have automatically gotten the job; in the end, Battlestar Galactica’s music was one of the best things about the show, and as the story got murkier and more depressing, the music was honestly one of the few things that kept me around at times. If the tone of the pilot movie is any indication, Caprica’s going to need him too.

Order this CD

  1. The Graystone Family (3:02)
  2. Terrorism On The Lev (3:15)
  3. Grieving (3:46)
  4. Lacey and Zoe-A (4:08)
  5. Cybernetic Life Form Node (3:16)
  6. Zoe’s Avatar (3:04)
  7. Daniel Captures The Code (2:29)
  8. A Tauron Sacrifice (2:46)
  9. Amanda Graystone (3:05)
  10. Joseph and Daniel (4:18)
  11. Tamara’s Heartbeat (1:42)
  12. Delivering The Message (2:56)
  13. Monotheism At The Athena Academy (3:34)
  14. Children Of Caprica (2:30)
  15. Irrecoverable Error (2:47)
  16. The Adama Name (1:39)
  17. Zoe Awakens (2:22)
  18. Caprica End Credits (3:38)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 54:17

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 – music by Bear McCreary

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4The fourth season of Battlestar Galactica is likely to be debated among fans for many years. It starts out with the unenviable task of reintroducing a character that the audience was led to believe was dead, barrels toward a mid-season climax that descends into dismal depths of despair, and then rockets down the homestretch toward the show’s still hotly-debated three-hour finale. It didn’t help that the season ended up taking the better part of a year to resolve the mid-season cliffhanger (thanks to the 2008 Writers’ Guild strike which shut down production for nearly every scripted series in North America for months); the season felt disjointed, and its (literally) darkest hours were hard to swallow.

The music, on the other hand, was never better. Having spent the show’s early years studiously avoiding the orchestral and synthetic cliches of most filmed science fiction, composer Bear McCreary had won over both the audience and his bosses, and was free to experiment, mix and match sonic elements, and do his part to create the show’s universe. McCreary shows every sign of being a major future composer – film music fans have spent so much of the past 35 years heaping praise on John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith as if they were the only composers working in Hollywood during that time, but I strongly feel that Bear McCreary’s name will be mentioned in the same reverent tones one or two decades from now. His music on Galactica remains one of the show’s most remembered and praised elements – even to the point of being parodied in an episode of South Park (to McCreary’s delight).

This time around, we’re treated to two CDs of music to show us why he’s earned that praise. The first CD covers the fourth season’s musical highlights, omitting the three-hour series finale. Key scenes and themes, and slightly less obvious (but very interesting) pieces, are arranged almost chronologically. The album kicks off with “Gaeta’s Lament”, which certainly didn’t happen early in the season, but it’s a great showcase of how much the music of Battlestar Galactica had evolved over the years. It features a great vocal performance from regular cast member Alessandro Juliani (who had, handily enough, studied opera in college), heard in a series of scenes leading up to the amputation of one of his critically-injured character’s legs. Starting out a cappella, the song gradually gains a backing ensemble of both orchestral and ethnic instruments, filling out nicely as the vocal grows more anguished. (The theme reappears in a different, completely instrumental form later, which helps one to appreciate just how serpentine the melody line is – if this makes any sense, I gained much appreciation of the vocal performance from listening to the instrumental.)

Tracks like “The Signal”, “Blood On The Scales” and “Boomer Takes Hera” get back to Battlestar business with the show’s signature wall of percussion, but even here the show’s musical palette expands, taking on choral elements and other unexpected surprises. Familiar character themes get a few new twists in tracks such as “Roslin And Adama Reunited”, “Grand Old Lady” and “Farewell Apollo”. Running throughout many of the first disc’s tracks, however, is a theme only introduced at the end of season three, the extended, Indian-flavored instrumental intro that led into that season’s surprising rendition of “All Along The Watchtower”. As that music was previously heard by several characters who were suddenly revealed to be “sleeper” Cylons, it recurs as a theme for the “final five”.

The biggest shock to the system of longtime Galactica soundtrack fans may be the pieces for solo piano heard on the first disc; “Elegy” and “Dreilide Thrace Sonata No. 1” are strictly piano. “Kara Remembers” starts out this way as well, though it eventually morphs into the full-blooded “final five” theme (revealed in the show’s mythology to be a piece of music composed by Starbuck’s father) complete with percussion and exotic instrumentation, stopping just short of leading into “Watchtower” as it did at the end of season three. Rounding off the first disc is “Diaspora Oratorio”, the jubilant choral piece that lulled everyone into a false sense of security for the aforementioned mid-season cliffhanger; while not chronologically sequenced, it’s a great finale and a good stopping point before the second CD.

The second disc may well be the crowning glory of the entire Battlestar music collection, containing the complete score for the three-hour finale Daybreak. From the unusual, off-format opening montage onward, there’s a wistful longing to the music. The very beginning of the first cue, “Caprica, Before The Fall”, offers one of the very few new themes introduced for Daybreak, a beautiful theme for humanity’s homeworld which recurs in the second half of both the story and the score as the fleet finds its way to a new home. Initially played with exotic ethnic instruments, as per Galactica house style, this theme becomes even more lovely and haunting when it’s echoed by a full orchestra, a nice little sonic hint of the civilization that will result from these events. As the story’s conclusion unfolds in an atypically relaxed pace and characters exit the main story, their themes reappear, often in new forms or grander interpretations than we’ve heard before. Perhaps the most heart-wrenching of these pieces is the track “So Much Life”, with “Starbuck Disappears” running a close second. Ironically, the Daybreak score has a slightly anticlimactic ending, simply because Bear McCreary’s music didn’t close out the series; to achieve the full effect, you’ll have to provide your own copy of Hendrix’s version of “All Along The Watchtower”. For action music from Daybreak, I’ll just point out a little track titled “Assault On The Colony” which lasts a solid 15 minutes. Now, not every second of it is wall-to-wall action music, but the hefty chunks of it that meet that description do not disappoint at all.

With the Caprica pilot soundtrack already released, the only Battlestar music left on the docket is a CD with the highlights of music from the two TV movies, Razori and The Plan, and while that’s something to look forward to, it’s hard to argue that the emotional arc of the music of Battlestar Galactica really comes to an end here – curiously enough, with wonderfully expansive orchestral music of the kind that had been eschewed early in the series’ run. Thanks to Bear McCreary’s unerring instincts in scoring for both traditional and unconventional instruments, the end result is a surprisingly diverse musical palette that refuses to be stuff into the background, relishes in its recognizable recurring themes and their 4 out of 4instant associations with the story and its characters, and is incredibly satisfying listening material even away from the images that inspired it. In a field crowded with exceptionally good soundtrack entries this year, Battlestar Galactica Season 4 may well be the best new film or TV music that’s going to hit anyone’s ears this year.

Order this CD

    Disc one:

  1. Gaeta’s Lament (4:48)
  2. The Signal (5:08)
  3. Resurrection Hub (3:40)
  4. The Cult Of Baltar (5:41)
  5. Farewell Apollo (2:55)
  6. Roslin Escapes (2:55)
  7. Among The Ruins (7:44)
  8. Laura Runs (2:21)
  9. Cally Descends (3:08)
  10. Funeral Pyre (3:57)
  11. Roslin And Adama Reunited (1:59)
  12. Gaeta’s Lament (Instrumental) (4:50)
  13. Elegy (2:54)
  14. The Alliance (2:30)
  15. Blood On The Scales (5:20)
  16. Grand Old Lady (0:52)
  17. Kara Remembers (3:27)
  18. Boomer Takes Hera (2:40)
  19. Dreilide Thrace Sonata No. 1 (5:34)
  20. Diaspora Oratorio (4:51)
    Disc two (Daybreak):

  1. Caprica City, Before The Fall (4:33)
  2. Laura’s Baptism (2:40)
  3. Adama In The Memorial Hallway (2:11)
  4. The Line (3:56)
  5. Assault On The Colony (15:07)
  6. Baltar’s Sermon (4:24)
  7. Kara’s Coordinates (4:21)
  8. Earth (3:07)
  9. Goodbye Sam (2:10)
  10. The Heart Of The Sun (3:20)
  11. Starbuck Disappears (2:08)
  12. So Much Life (5:00)
  13. An Easterly View (4:52)
  14. The Passage Of Time (1:15)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2009
Disc one total running time: 77:14
Disc two total running time: 59:04

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – music by Bear McCreary

Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesSince making a splash in the film music scene with his distinctive music for the new Battlestar Galactica, Bear McCreary has earned not only acclaim, but a very busy schedule on the scoring stage. In addition to direct-to-DVD horror movies like the Rest Stop series, McCreary has also taken over the musical duties on Sci-Fi’s Eureka, and in each case, he’s done so in such a way that the results don’t scream “This is the guy who does the music for Battlestar Galactica” – and really, that’s a good thing. That’s the sort of diverse talent that keeps composers employed.

For those wishing that there was more music in the same vein as Galactica’s percussive moodiness, though, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles fits the bill. The series itself kicked off with the same kind of world-weary hope-in-the-face-of-a-fatalistic-future tone that Galactica has carried throughout its run, but let’s face it, it’s almost certain that Galactica’s wall-of-percussion action scenes are what landed McCreary this job. The Sarah Connor Chronicles utilizes plenty of metallic percussion, though often sampled and processed heavily – appropriate for a show that deals with robotic assassins from the future.

Galactica fans will also find this show’s use of a small string ensemble familiar, appearing at several points in the soundtrack to deliver low-key, almost mournful moments in stark contrast to the pounding percussion. Both elements come together in the show’s end title theme, with an effect that’s equal parts apocalyptic and Celtic. Unlike the main title theme, which is heavy on percussion and light on melody, the end titles are based on “Sarah Connor’s Theme” (heard in full on track 3).

On the opposite end of the spectrum from that theme, there’s the busy, almost Art Of Noise-like “Motorcycle Robot Chase”, loaded with scraping metal percussion, stuttering electronic sting notes, and just plain noise. Needless to say, this track goes nuts in a way that wouldn’t fit on Galactica – it’s uniquely Sarah Connor Chronicles, and easily the busiest track on the entire album by miles.

Two songs are included, “Samson And Delilah” (performed by Shirley Manson of Garbage, who joined the cast as part of a rethink of the show’s format in season two), and the raucous “Ain’t We Famous”, performed by Brendan McCreary and his band (also responsible for some of Galactica’s more mainstream musical moments, such as “All Along The Watchtower”). “Samson And Delilah” didn’t really strike me as radically different from anything I’ve heard from Ms. Manson before, but “Ain’t We Famous” is a fun, rockin’ number that stands up to repeat listening better. An homage to Carl Stalling – about the last thing I expected to hear here – is included as well (“Atomic Al’s Merry Melody”).

4 out of 4I’m going to fess up that I’m not a huge fan of the show itself, but its music is certainly worthy of attention. Fans of Battlestar Galactica’s music will enjoy this one, whether they’ve followed the series or not, because it’s on very familiar ground (and yet slightly different) musically. This’ll tide you over until the next Galactica soundtrack quite nicely.

Order this CD

  1. Samson And Delilah (4:58)
  2. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Main Titles (0:45)
  3. Sarah Connor’s Theme (3:17)
  4. Cromartie In The Hospital (1:10)
  5. Andy Goode’s Turk (3:11)
  6. Central America (1:34)
  7. John And Riley (2:27)
  8. Derek Reese (2:53)
  9. Ain’t We Famous (3:36)
  10. Motorcycle Robot Chase (2:50)
  11. The Hand Of God (3:10)
  12. Prisoners Of War (6:26)
  13. Miles Dyson’s Grave (2:43)
  14. Atomic Al’s Merry Melody (1:23)
  15. The Reese Boys (1:41)
  16. Removing Cameron’s Chip (3:15)
  17. Ellison Spared (2:23)
  18. I Love You (2:30)
  19. Catherine Weaver (2:05)
  20. Derek’s Mission (1:47)
  21. There’s A Storm Coming (3:02)
  22. Highway Battle (3:58)
  23. Perfect Creatures (2:15)
  24. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles End Titles (0:35)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 63:54

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 – music by Bear McCreary

Battlestar Galactica Season 3Like the television episodes that it accompanied, the soundtrack from the third season of Battlestar Galactica is an even more haunted, somber affair than its predecessors. The third season saw the characters’ bad decisions, bad personal judgement, and all-around character flaws come back to bite them on the butt in a big way. Opening with most of the surviving human race enslaved by the Cylons on a bleak world, the show got off of that planet in four episodes, but then proceeded to spend the bulk of its remaining shows reflecting on what had happened during that time. A side strand about Baltar trying to get his bearings among the Cylons offered some rather nebulous developments, until he fell once more into the hands of his fellow humans (who blamed him for their captivity). The pace suddenly picked up at the end of the season with the apparent death of Starbuck, the revelation that several key characters may actually be Cylons, and what at least appeared to be the return of Starbuck…with a tantalizing peek at Earth, just around the cosmic corner from Galactica.

Quite a bit of the soundtrack’s running time is spent with the Exodus two-parter, which saw Adama and the fleet return to liberate humanity from New Caprica, and with Unfinished Business, a segment that centered around a series of boxing matches to help the crew blow off steam. I’ll admit that Unfinished Business resides in the same “blind spot” I mentioned in an earlier review of the Doctor Who Series 3 soundtrack – there was an awful lot of music generated for the episode, but since I didn’t really count that episode among my favorites, I hadn’t paid close attention to its music. It turns out that, like the Who episode Human Nature, Unfinished Business had some fine music that I had overlooked.

The gem of the Exodus tracks is a mammoth (nearly 8 minute) cue that accompanied Galactica’s all-or-nothing struggle to rescue the trapped colonists. The show’s relentless percussion of the star of “Storming New Caprica”, but when low strings start to add a guttural urgency to the walls of percussion, things really get cooking. This may well be the best reason to get the soundtrack to begin with. Well, that and “All Along The Watchtower”. As odd as it may seem, a Bob Dylan song became central to the season finale, lyrics and all, though it’s a wildly different interpretation than just about anything you’ve heard before. It leans a little bit on the Jimi Hendrix version of “Watchtower”, but with the ethnic instrumentation and percussion that screams “Galactica” layered onto it. This is a cover of “Watchtower” that rocks, and rocks hard. It’s best listened to in conjunction with “Heeding The Call”, a piece of music heard on radios, in the launch bay, and “in the frakking ship!” as certain key characters began to suspect something was even more wrong than they had suspected. It leads into “Watchtower” nicely.

Maelstrom is another episode represented by a healthy sampling of music, including the final moments of the episode in which we’re led to believe that Starbuck has flown her final mission. The music from the episode Dirty Hands is fun too, with a swampy, slithery, bluesy guitar part that gives it a pretty unique sound. While the soundtrack from Galactica’s second season was markedly different from the first, bringing new elements and instruments into the mix, this CD almost sounds like a continuation of the previous season’s sound, dovetailing seamlessly in spots with the second season’s soundtrack.

4 out of 4A strong listen, but it took a little more time to grow on me than previous music collections from the new Battlestar Galactica. As with the episodes themselves, the season 3 soundtrack spends some time in introspective space, rather than blowing everything to bits. Those looking for action music won’t be disappointed, but there’s much more to the season 3 music than that.

Order this CD

  1. A Distant Sadness (2:50 – Occupation)
  2. Precipice (4:52 – Precipice)
  3. Admiral and Commander (3:16 – Exodus Part 1 & 2)
  4. Storming New Caprica (7:48 – Exodus Part 2)
  5. Refugees Return (3:43 – Exodus Part 2)
  6. Wayward Soldier (4:17 – Hero)
  7. Violence and Variations (7:42 – Unfinished Business)
  8. The Dance (2:33 – Unfinished Business)
  9. Adama Falls (1:43 – Unfinished Business)
  10. Under the Wing (1:16 – Maelstrom)
  11. Battlestar Sonatica (4:44 – Torn)
  12. Fight Night (2:27 – Unfinished Business)
  13. Kat’s Sacrifice (2:46 – The Passage)
  14. Someone To Trust (3:09 – Taking A Break From All Your Worries)
  15. The Temple of Five (2:44 – The Eye Of Jupiter)
  16. Dirty Hands (3:32 – Dirty Hands)
  17. Gentle Execution (3:28 – Exodus Part 2)
  18. Mandala in the Clouds (4:07 – Maelstrom)
  19. Deathbed and Maelstrom (5:53 – Maelstrom)
  20. Heeding the Call (2:11 – Crossroads Part 2)
  21. All Along The Watchtower
  22. (3:33 – Crossroads Part 2)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 79:02