Moon 44 – music by Joel Goldsmith

Moon 44Moon 44, a late ’80s movie starring Michael Pare and Malcolm McDowell (among others), flew under many science fiction fans’ radar (I have to be honest, I only remember it in terms of some “coming attractions” preview articles in Starlog Magazine), and quickly became one of those movies that people had only ever seen on videotape. The soundtrack was released in 1990 alongside the movie by Silva Screen Records, and after years out of print has recently been re-released by Buysoundtrax (BSX) Records.

Moon 44 was not the first movie scored by rising music star Joel Goldsmith (that was the execrable 1977 B-movie – and MST3K fodder – Laserblast), but it was the first time he got to entrust his compositions to a full orchestra rather than leaning on synthesizers. In essence, this was the first time that the junior Goldsmith presented us with the sound that his fans would come to know and love in such future projects as Star Trek: First Contact, Stargate SG-1, Witchblade, Stargate Atlantis, and so on.

And it does sound oddly familiar – in a few places, the soundtrack from Moon 44 resembles Jerry Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. You can hear the style and even a few melodic licks that Joel Goldsmith would lean on frequently for his work in the Stargate TV franchise in abundance here. It’s all played proficiently by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, with Christopher Stone conducting (Stone composed the score for nearly every Phantasm sequel, as well as, more obscurely, early laserdisc arcade games such as Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace). If there’s a weak track, it’s the source cue “Shut Out” – a vocal track that sounds a bit more 1985 than 1990.

Ironically, though Goldsmith didn’t wind up working for Moon 44 director Roland Emmerich again, both moved on to bigger and better things: Emmerich and Dean Devlin (who had a small part as an actor in Moon 44) went on to co-write Independence Day and Stargate, among others; Goldsmith scored most of the television spinoff universe spawned by Stargate.

It seems a little unlikely that we’ll be hearing more music from the Stargate universe – Joel Goldsmith’s untimely death in May 2012 cut short many long-touted projects, including a possible release of his music from Stargate Universe – but in lieu of those much-talked about collections which have now entered the realm of vaporware, 4 out of 4Moon 44 is comfortingly familiar. (Goldsmith signed off on this soundtrack’s re-release before his death, and the already-announced release date had the misfortune to follow closely on the heels of his passing.)

As a sampler of the style he would employ in many future projects, Moon 44 is a fitting memorial for Joel Goldsmith – and, on its own, it’s a good listen, too.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Felix The Cop (3:04)
  2. First Training Flight (5:14)
  3. So Long Felix (4:06)
  4. Navigator’s Hang Up (1:25)
  5. Armed And Dangerous No. 1 (3:29)
  6. Drones, Drones, Drones (But Not A Drop To Drink)
  7. (2:52)

  8. Sykes Gets Caught (2:10)
  9. Armed And Dangerous No. 2 (4:27)
  10. So You Like It Fast (Hard And Rough)
  11. (1:47)

  12. Jake To The Rescue / Joel’s Outlandish Adventure (2:24)
  13. Lee Bombs Out (3:00)
  14. Welcome To Moon 44 (0:49)
  15. Taxi Driver (“You Talkin’ To Me?”) (2:49)
  16. The Cookie Crumbles / Bumpy Taxi Ride / The End Of Moon 44 (6:04)
  17. Aftermath (1:13)
  18. Heading For Earth (0:59)
  19. Terry On The Moon / Finale (1:12)
  20. Shut Out (vocals: Heather Forsyth) (1:33)

Released by: Silva Screen (original edition) / BSX Records (2012 reissue)
Release date: 1990 (original Silva Screen edition) / 2012 (BSX Records)
Total running time: 49:21

Star Trek: First Contact (Newly Expanded Edition)

Star Trek: First Contact (Newly Expanded Edition)Though it really shouldn’t have been surprising after the recent glut of remastered soundtracks from the Kirk-era Star Trek movie franchise, the sudden announcement of a complete and remastered Star Trek: First Contact soundtrack took many by surprise. It came from a label that had been dormant for years – GNP Crescendo had a seemingly absolute lock on all Star Trek soundtrack releases throughout the 1990s – and it was the first remastered soundtrack from the shorter big-screen run of the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew.

Of course, First Contact was the first (and arguably only) undisputed success among the TNG-era films, and marked the return of Jerry Goldsmith to the Star Trek film franchise, so it’s an obvious starting point for the TNG movie soundtrack remasters. (Three TNG-era movies’ soundtracks remain to be remastered and expanded, and two of them – Generations and Insurrection – were previously released by Crescendo, making it almost certain that Crescendo will be releasing the expanded editions.)

The original 1996 soundtrack release of First Contact was hampered by two factors: the punishing cost of licensing more than 40 minutes of music recorded by a union orchestra for a soundtrack release, and a somewhat arbitrary decision to slant the original soundtrack heavily in favor of music by Jerry Goldsmith. Almost a quarter of the movie was actually scored by Joel Goldsmith, who would later make his mark on the genre by scoring the vast majority of the Stargate TV franchise, due to Jerry Goldsmith’s busy schedule. The liner notes even point out that executive producer Rick Berman and director/co-star Jonathan “Riker” Frakes greeted this development by pointing out that they’d paid for Jerry Goldsmith to score their movie. As it so happens, the elder Goldsmith played a thundering action cue that impressed everyone in the room – and then revealed that his son had written it. But that didn’t mean that Joel’s music would find its way onto the original soundtrack release: the same silly argument cropped up. The CD cover said “music by Jerry Goldsmith,” and album producer Neil Norman was determined to deliver on that. The payoff there is that Joel Goldsmith was responsible for the music to the one scene in the movie that everyone bought a ticket to see, the first warp flight by Zefram Cochrane. That was, without a doubt, First Contact‘s money shot. I remember seeing the movie in the theater the first time with my friend Mark, who said “Holy shit!” out loud when the Phoenix deployed its warp engines from its Titan missile casing. It was built up as the movie’s “holy shit!” moment from the word go, and it got “holy shit!” music from the junior Goldsmith – which Crescendo then proceeded to omit from the album on the ground that the cue wasn’t composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

That cue, “Flight Of The Phoenix”, has been… obtainable, for the lack of a better way to put it, as part of a bootleg First Contact score that’s been circulating since the Napster days. However, this single-disc release has been remastered by the same team responsible for the previous Trek movie score remasters, and it’s never sounded this good. With all due respect to the now-departed “dean of movie music,” as Trek TV composer Dennis McCarthy once called him, “Flight Of The Phoenix” is the highlight of the restored full-length soundtrack, just as it was in the movie itself. It’s ironic that arguably the most iconic piece of music in a score attributed to Jerry Goldsmith was composed by his son. Stargate fans will also want to check out Joel’s cues here as a precursor to the up-and-coming composer’s body of work for that franchise (SG-1 was about a year away from premiering at the time of First Contact‘s release).

For those who, like the label circa 1996, are more interested in Goldsmith Sr.’s work, there are unreleased cues by him as well. One of the more intriguing ones is “Borg Montage”, a brief, menacing cue covering several shot Borg-related interludes aboard the Enterprise-E, culminating in a hapless security team wandering into a dimly-lit space which is then illuminated by the laser sights of several approaching Borg. There are two versions of this cue – one used in the movie, and a significantly different one with a more martial approach – and both are vintage Goldsmith with a big brassy flourish at the end.

If you want Steppenwolf or Roy Orbison this time around, there are other sources for those tracks, and in the intervening years they’ve almost certainly been remastered too.

The return of Crescendo Records to the soundtrack arena, especially with the full release of First Contact in hand, is a welcome one, especially when some of the soundtrack specialty labels are calling it a day in the current economy (Film Score Monthly) or beginning to split their release schedules between classic remasters and brand new releases (Intrada). The liner notes booklet – both the printed one with the disc and the downloadable PDF “booklet” (more like one giant, unending vertical strip, possibly representing the first-ever soundtrack liner notes wall 4 out of 4scroll) – looks like it just woke up from ’96, however. The cover layout also shows no attempt to mesh with the general cover design that’s been established for the other Star Trek movie score remasters to date, so maybe a visual rethink might be in order before Crescendo turns out another remastered Trek soundtrack. In the end, though, it’s the music that matters, and this release delivers an increase in both sound quality and quantity. Hopefully it delivers enough sales to Crescendo’s doorstep to merit upgraded releases of Generations and Insurrection.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Locutus (4:18)
  2. How Many Ships (0:31)
  3. Battle Watch (1:13)
  4. Red Alert (2:16)
  5. Temporal Wake (2:11)
  6. Shields Down (1:48)
  7. The Phoenix (1:04)
  8. They’re Here (0:28)
  9. 39.1 Degrees Celsius (4:48)
  10. Search For The Borg (1:53)
  11. Retreat (4:01)
  12. No Success (1:33)
  13. Borg Montage (1:03)
  14. Welcome Aboard (2:43)
  15. Stimulation (1:08)
  16. Smorgasborg (1:30)
  17. Getting Ready (1:36)
  18. Fully Functional (3:22)
  19. The Dish (7:09)
  20. Objection Noted (1:57)
  21. Not Again (2:44)
  22. Evacuate (2:24)
  23. New Orders / All The Time (3:52)
  24. Flight Of The Phoenix (6:23)
  25. First Contact (6:03)
  26. End Credits (5:32)
  27. The Phoenix [alternate] (1:10)
  28. Borg Montage [alternate] (1:20)
  29. Main Title [alternate] (2:54)

Released by: GNP Crescendo Records
Release date: 2012
Total running time: 78:54

Stargate: Continuum – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate: ContinuumReleased hot on the heels of the direct-to-DVD movie, Joel Goldsmith’s epic score from Stargate: Continuum is, not unlike the movie it accompanies, even bigger and better than Ark Of Truth. Continuum is a story painted on a broader canvas, and the music follows suit – in places, it’s positively epic stuff, in the tradition of John Williams and, yes, a certain other film composer named Goldsmith.

The score opens with a spacious new rendition of David Arnold’s Stargate theme (hearkening back to the original movie) and then segues into a jaunty, lighthearted piece as the team assembles for their next mission. We’re then treated to the choral dirge heard as the list of Ba’al’s crimes is read prior to his execution; while the choir was heard in the Ark Of Truth soundtrack, it’s used more, and to better effect, here. “The Last Of The System Lords” is the first of several bold action cues that almost feel as much like Star Wars as they do Stargate – it’s big, widescreen music.

Even in its more contemplative moments – such as the very relaxing “Endless Horizons” and “Breaking The Ice” – the music is panoramic. The Arctic Circle footage is lovely, yes, but Goldsmith’s music really helps to sell the setting, especially as a pretty good chunk of that part of the movie is dialogue-free. “Endless Horizons” is a nice accompaniment to that rather bleak travelogue.

4 out of 4With the recent announcement that the faltering spinoff series Stargate Atlantis is moving out of weekly production and into movies like the SG-1 direct-to-DVD adventures, I’m actually somewhat pleased…because maybe Joel Goldsmith will get to make more music like this, and more CDs to go along with it. As a fan of his music for this particular franchise, that suits me just fine.

Order this CD

  1. A Day At SGC (3:41)
  2. The List (1:19)
  3. Murder Of Untold Millions (1:46)
  4. The Achilles Commandeered (1:21)
  5. The Last Of The System Lords (6:29)
  6. For The Good Of Others (0:47)
  7. The Sinking Of The Achilles (0:44)
  8. Endless Horizons (2:06)
  9. Breaking The Ice (2:11)
  10. New Identities (2:27)
  11. Ba’al Divided (0:54)
  12. Bring A God To Tears (1:20)
  13. Daniel’s Book (1:31)
  14. Al’Kesh Invasion (0:54)
  15. Photograph (0:50)
  16. Apophis (3:43)
  17. The Armada (1:24)
  18. Quetesh Takes Over (3:07)
  19. Battle Over The Ocean (2:19)
  20. The Machine (1:51)
  21. Fall Of The Heroes (2:35)
  22. End Of The Reign (2:25)
  23. The Extraction (2:06)
  24. O’Neill Buys Lunch / End Title (4:46)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 52:36

Stargate: Ark Of Truth – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate: Ark Of TruthThe Stargate television franchise has used a full orchestra on precisely two occasion: the 1997 pilot episode of SG-1. and the 2004 pilot movie of Stargate Atlantis. Everything that has come since has been the product of synthesizers, and in the early years of Stargate SG-1 there was even quite a diverse mix of composers whose work – dating back to the first season – was mixed-and-matched as needed, like the original Star Trek’s library approach to its music. So it’s quite a shock to the system to suddenly return to a real orchestra and a real choir with Ark Of Truth, the first of two post-cancellation direct-to-DVD movie projects for the cast and crew of SG-1.

Resident Stargate maestro Joel Goldsmith is naturally at the helm here, and as usual, he has no trouble switching from synthesized/sampled orchestral music to the real deal. The soundtrack opens with a restatement of the Stargate theme we’ve heard for years – itself adapted from David Arnold’s music from the 1994 movie – but with a different emphasis and tempo than the SG-1 main titles, letting us know immediately that things are a little bit different. (I could stop here and point out that, despite the grandiosity of the music, things aren’t that different and Ark feel like two episodes jammed together that, give or take the large scale of a couple of its setpieces, could’ve easily been done on TV, but maybe I’d better just stick to the music.)

Themes are quickly established for the multiple angles of attack of the story: the Tomin/Vala angle gets its own motif, the SG-1 team gets its own noble sound, and the Ori get to sound like big, dark trouble, which is somehow appropriate. Later in the proceedings some ominous rumbling kicks in, which then turns into something more percussive for the somewhat surprising return of the Replicators. There are also themes for the Ancients and – to a certain extent – the Ark itself . However conceptually modest Ark‘s story may have been, the music is Widescreen with a capital W. It’s the same guy writing and arranging the music, but it probably doesn’t need to be said that Goldsmith goes to town with the opportunity to have real players, real instruments and real voices playing his material. To say that there’s a generous quantity of music here is an understatement – you get pretty much the entire score here, an hour of big orchestral/choral music for a direct-to-DVD movie with a running time of under two hours.

For a tiny label release, Ark Of Truth gets relatively lavish packaging too, with a booklet that extensively discusses the movie’s genesis, the team who produced it, and the long-standing relationship between the producers and Goldsmith, all lavishly illustrated. This material might not be here making for such a thick booklet, except that this was obviously a release catered to the fanbase of the show. 100 copies were autographed for those who ordered early from Goldsmith’s website, a window of opportunity which seemed to vanish like a closing wormhole, but faster.

Ark Of Truth has some great music, with something interesting always afoot even if it’s not thundering along on the musical equivalent of a war footing. One has to appreciate Joel Goldsmith taking the chance to not do this as a “composer promo,” which usually sees the studio quietly grumbling and looking the other way as a composer quietly releases a CD which serves as a resume piece (and, in more recent years, usually earns back its own production costs as it slips out into the hands of diehard fans). Instead, Goldsmith went to MGM and licensed it for a full release through his own label, with studio-4 out of 4sanctioned artwork and all – basically, putting whatever money he’d made from doing the music back into the studio’s coffers and taking a gamble that he’d make it back by putting the CD on the market. Hopefully – despite this being the age of Downloading Absolutely Everything Whether You’re Supposed To Or Not – the loyal fans make sure that gamble pays off, because I’m much more interested in the second SG-1 DVD movie, Continuum, and I’m eager to hear its soundtrack as well.

Order this CD

  1. The Decision (Main Title) (3:53)
  2. Dakara Discovery (2:06)
  3. Tomin (3:06)
  4. The Wrong Ark (3:36)
  5. My Notebook (1:55)
  6. Our Mission Begins (1:25)
  7. The Supergate (2:19)
  8. Meeting The Resistance (2:25)
  9. Sabotage (2:19)
  10. Replicator! (2:05)
  11. Merlin (2:07)
  12. Ori Fleet (3:39)
  13. The Doci (1:57)
  14. Journey To Celestis (2:09)
  15. The Battle Begins (2:34)
  16. Maternal Moment (2:20)
  17. The Healing (1:24)
  18. Morgan Le Fay (3:45)
  19. Marrick’s Demise (3:05)
  20. The Ark Of Truth (6:04)
  21. See The Light (0:54)
  22. Carter’s Cookies (2:19)
  23. A New Adventure (0:47)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 58:13

Witchblade – music by Joel Goldsmith

Pressed in a limited run of 1,000 copies, the soundtrack CD from TNT’s troubled two-season wonder Witchblade is just a few years late to the party, but no less welcome for the wait. (Then again, any kind of DVD release for Witchblade is also long overdue.) Even with the CD being confined largely to cues from a small number of first season episodes, it presents a wildly different style of music from Goldsmith’s well-worn Stargate repertoire. Heavy on ethnic instruments, pounding percussion, distorted guitar, eerie synth pads and trippy tastes of prog-rock, Goldsmith’s Witchblade music fits well alongside the show’s preoccupation with classic rock (excerpts of Blue Oyster Cult and Jefferson Airplane weren’t uncommon, and when the Witchblade itself finally spoke in season 2, it spoke with the voice of Grace Slick).

If this description sounds a little familiar, it’s no coincidence – if you like the music of the new Battlestar Galactica series, this isn’t just like it but it’s in the same neighborhood. The score cues are interspersed with several original songs composed by Goldsmith that featured prominently in the show. Those numbers tend to be rocked-out but very atmospheric techno-metal, with the vocals heavily processed. “The Gauntlet Suite” in particular lives up to the show’s prog rock pedigree, with its trippy synth work and its sheer length.

There are a small number of tracks that appear to have been composed for, but not used in, the series, including one of the aforementioned songs; if there’s just one thing missing from the otherwise fine liner notes booklet – in which the show’s writers and producers wax nostalgic for the challenge of keeping the show on the air and the wonders of hearing Goldsmith’s music for the first time – an explanation of what happened with these pieces of music is it.

4 out of 4Witchblade may have faded into obscurity – there’s been more buzz about the anime version, which has already generated at least two soundtrack CDs of its own, then there’s been reminiscing about the short-lived live action series – but this soundtrack is proof that its brief existence was a flashpoint of intense creativity for all involved. Hopefully Joel Goldsmith will have a chance to spread his wings, with the Stargate franchise losing a bit of steam, and demonstrate this kind of intensity again. Well worth the wait.

Order this CD

  1. Danny’s Funeral (1:18)
  2. The Church (1:58)
  3. Brotherly Love (2:27)
  4. Strange Days (3:36)
  5. Fire Breather (1:27)
  6. Maelstrom (1:00)
  7. Walk Swiftly (1:48)
  8. The Gauntlet Suite (7:44)
  9. Missing Link (2:06)
  10. The Fire Dance (1:58)
  11. A Fine Dream (1:05)
  12. Sarah’s Home (2:16)
  13. Emergence (3:02)
  14. Retro Motorcycles (2:06)
  15. Vague Reckoning (4:47)
  16. Matters Of Truth (2:06)
  17. Milk And Honey (2:57)
  18. Conundrum (1:23)
  19. A Violent Prayer (2:43)
  20. Patience (2:51)
  21. Bad Man (2:14)
  22. A Walk In The Park (2:11)
  23. Very Dark Days (1:58)
  24. Sarah’s Metamorphosis (6:17)
  25. Witchblade Main Title (0:46)
  26. Walking Lightly On Delicate Mist (9:45)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 73:48

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

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