November 17, 2007

CD Review: Battlestar Galactica Season 3 - Music Composed by Bear McCreary

When the Sci-Fi Channel announced a new, reimagined Battlestar Galactica back in 2003, I was skeptical. I was a fan of the original series, as dated as it seems now, from watching it in my youth. When I read about many of the elements that were being changed, I was even more skeptical. Then Edward James Olmos said if you were a fan of the original that you shouldn't watch this new take. Well, I watched it and enjoyed it, even though I left underwhelmed. Then the series was announced, I started watching it and was instantly hooked. The look, the writing, the acting, the effects, everything came together in such a perfect way that it fast became one of my favorites and easily one of the best series currently in production. There was, however, one more element that helped make it feel so fresh, original, and exciting. That element is the music of Bear McCreary. This is the third collection of his music from the series, and my first exposure to it away from the show, and now I must get the others.

I have watched every episode of the series, and still feel that I have barely scratched the surface of what it offers. That said, I could not point you to any particular episode where the music stands out, or where specific pieces first appeared, but that in no way diminishes their value. If anything, this helps me enjoy the music apart from the show. As I listen, I am reminded of the show and its greatness, but I do not have episodes or scenes running through my head distracting me from the music at hand.

Bear's work for Battlestar Galactica is far and away some of, if not the, best soundtrack work done for any television series. It is at the top of my list for sure. There are few television series whose music makes a big impact on me outside of the show. The only ones that come to mind are Farscape, The X-Files, Firefly, and perhaps Stargate SG-1. While those, and probably a few I missed are definitely good or even great, one listen to the music of Battlestar Galactica should convince anyone of just how special this creation is.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the first collection of Battlestar music that has come into my possession, and it is simply spectacular. Bear has a unique style that brings so much flavor and texture to the series that I cannot picture anyone else being able to replicate his work. His music is filled with drama, thrills, energy, excitement, sadness, joy, hope, and the lack thereof. It runs the gamut from soft and quiet ambience to huge arena bombast and all stops in between.

Bear McCreary's creation brings together all manner of instruments from traditional stringed and brass instruments to guitars and drums to vocal and synth elements. He combines all of these vastly different instruments with style influences that circle the world. You will find influences in music from all cultures under the banner of Battlestar Galactica. Just like the series is exploring the borders and pushing the boundaries of science fiction dramatic television, the music explores all facets of Earth-bound music. Bits and pieces are taken and added into the melting pot of McCreary's mind, the end result is a unique musical style that exhibits all of these elements yet feels brand new.

Among the tracks to pay attention to on this disk are "A Distant Sadness," "Precipice," "Storming New Caprica," "Violence and Variations," "The Dance," "Fight Night," "Dirty Hands," and "Mandala in the Clouds." That seems like a lot, it was difficult trying to pick out a few favorites to point out. I could have just as easily listed the entire album as there are no bad tracks in the bunch.

As if that wasn't enough, the final track is Bear McCreary's take on the classic "All Along the Watchtower" which was used to such great effect at the end of the Season 3 finale. I had hoped that this would be included. The song is instantly recognizable, yet fits distinctly into the musical style created for Battlestar Galactica.

Bottomline. There is no way you can go wrong with this disk. If you are a fan of the series, you must add it to your collection or you will regret it later. For those who are unfamiliar with the series but are interested in unique music and/or like scores even without knowing where it is used, give this a shot. Like I said, you will not be disappointed no matter how you approach it. This is, quite simply, a beautiful and phenomenal collection of music.

Highly Recommended.


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