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