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