With its brutal percussion, vocal laments and unusual instrumentation, the CD of music from the new Battlestar Galactica’s first season was a completely unique sound, and a hard act to follow. But somehow, this collection of music from the show’s intense second season not only builds on the thematic material and style of its predecessor – it transcends it.
The album opens not with the show’s main theme, but with one of the new series’ few tips of the hat to the music of the original. From Final Cut, the original Galactica theme by Stu Phillips effortlessly blends in with the percussive style of the new show, and it’s a brilliant arrangement, even working in elements of the “Exploration theme” that was heard under ’70s Galactica’s opening narration. It’s an attention-getting way to open this album for fans both old and new.
From there, we move firmly into the musical territory of the new series’ second season. Primal percussion remains part of the mix, but carrying on from the first season soundtrack’s “Shape Of Things To Come” track, there is a heavier emphasis on strings here, specifically string quartets. For some, this may seem like an odd thing to add to the millieu of a science fiction show, but for the second season’s bleak emotional territory it’s utterly appropriate. In fact, getting to hear the music by itself, I was struck by how many time I hadn’t noticed that the string quartet became a centerpiece of the season’s mood.
The centerpiece of this album, on the other hand, is an 8+ minute track called “Prelude To War”, effectively a cohesive suite of action/suspense music from Pegasus and both parts of Resurrection Ship. Everything from Adama’s order to effectively start a civil war, to Apollo’s drift into unconsciousness, to the scouting run into the Resurrection Ship is represented here in a way that may not necessarily be sequential to the events, but is very cohesive musically. (It’s not for nothing that this has become my driving-to-work music of late.) Other music from Pegasus and Resurrection Ship can be found in other tracks such as “Pegasus” (the contemporary-sounding gentle guitar intro), “Lords Of Kobol” (the vocal piece heard as the crews reunite), “Roslin And Adama”, “The Cylon Prisoner” and “Gina Escapes”. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that Pegasus / Resurrection Ship and Lay Down Your Burdens are the stars of this album, comprising a large share of the CD’s tracks.
Episodes from earlier in the season go a little under-represented as a result, though there are some gems there (“Reuniting The Fleet”, “Martial Law”, the zither-heavy “Baltar’s Dream” cue, and selections from The Farm and Home). I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed that the listless piano solo heard when Starbuck temporarily moved back into her home on Caprica wasn’t present; I found that piece almost hypnotically mesmerizing, but it may not have been a fan favorite. The rest of the CD certainly makes up for it. Later episodes such as Scar and Black Market get one or two licks in.
And speaking of Black Market and licks, stick around for the last track on the CD, because it’s a treat. “Black Market” (the track, not the episode) starts out like a normal Galactica soundtrack cue, and then suddenly slams into high gear heavy metal guitar solos (courtesy of guest player Steve Bartek, formerly of Oingo Boingo and still occasional orchestrator for Danny Elfman). This track has a wonderful crunchy sound, not just from guitars but from what sound like cellos run through tube distortion – a sound I don’t think I’ve heard since the second ELO album. It’s a great and unexpectedly head-banging closer to another great collection.
Now how can Bear McCreary top this for season 3?
- Colonial Anthem (“Theme From Battlestar Galactica”) (4:02)
- Baltar’s Dream (2:45)
- Escape From The Farm (3:09)
- A Promise To Return (3:03)
- Allegro (4:59)
- Martial Law (1:51)
- Standing In The Mud (1:45)
- Pegasus (2:46)
- Lords Of Kobol (2:50)
- Something Dark Is Coming (8:51)
- Scar (2:26)
- Epiphanies (2:43)
- Roslin And Adama (2:49)
- Gina Escapes (2:00)
- Dark Unions (2:53)
- The Cylon Prisoner (3:51)
- Prelude To War (8:22)
- Reuniting The Fleet (2:45)
- Roslin Confesses (2:09)
- One Year Later (1:43)
- Worthy Of Survival (3:35)
- Battlestar Galactica Main Title (0:45)
- Black Market (5:48)
Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 78:53