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Soundtrack Review

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Battlestar Galactica
Blood & Chrome (Original Soundtrack from the SYFY Special Event)


Composer: Bear McCreary
La-La Land Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 12 March 2013

With the advent of the new Battlestar Galactica Bear McCreary had the task of producing a soundtrack which retained the martial feel of Galactica, whilst creating themes which reflected the more warlike stance of the show, rather than the religious and political themes which dominated the reimagining. Differentiating this soundtrack from the original BSG is the inclusion of electronic instruments, including syths and electric bass...

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is the soundtrack to the one-off show, consisting of eighteen tracks. Composed by Bear McCreary, who gathered together many of the same musicians who had provided the original show's music, including Chris Bleth (woodwinds), MB Gordy (taikos and percussion), Paul Cartwright (electric violin), Steve Bartek (electric guitars), Brendan McCreary (vocals) and Raya Yarbrough (vocals).

The soundtrack opens with 'Dear Dad' (3 min, 58 sec), which, in the show, was mostly not heard due to the narration which exists in the opening scene. Just as the scene tries to link Chrome to both Galactica and Caprica both the tone and construction of the track seems to be pure Galactica, with the heavy taikos drums, dumbeks and bansuris, until a sharper drum kicks in, the tempo speeds up and the heavy metal distorted bass guitar kicks in. This discordant sound preludes and then follows Adama’s first engagement with a Cylon fighter. The whole construction sounds like it might exist in an Algerian rave, before finally breaking back not more familiar territory.

Track two, 'The Galactica' (1 min, 37 sec) is a reiteration of the theme so often heard which heralded the arrival of the Galactica. Here it is mixed with the show’s original theme, giving a nod to both incarnations. The deep reverberation of the taikos drums will get old fans hearts racing, heralding that we are back in the BSG universe as the full orchestra plays both themes. The drums fall quiet as Raya Yarbrough sings "Domini ducem dederunt agmen qui ducat caelorum".

So, we have the old and the new restated for the first time, allowing Bear to start the music for Chrome properly with 'The Mission Begins' (2 min) which brings us sweeping strings that finally break into a track which is both melancholic and military, introducing us for the first time to Adama’s theme.

'Becca’s Past' (2 min, 42 sec) provides another melancholy theme, reflecting the fact that the character is recounting the loss of her husband, not as a hero, but as a flawed man. Piano features heavily, accompanied with flute and drum. It is the first time we are introduced to Becca and the first instance of her musical theme.

'Archeron' (5 min, 37 sec) and we are into our first proper fight scene. The track opening synth plays soft and slowly as the wreckage of the doomed Battlestar is revealed, before the track takes a change of pace with the arrival of the cylons, more drums come in and the softer tones of the opening section gives way to the discordant synth bass sound which was introduced in the opening track, indicating Cylons, at which point the whole band kick in, reaching its peak with an electric violin.

'The Ghost Fleet' (2 min, 03 sec) has Adama and crew discover a hidden fleet. The track starts slow and low, indicating their apprehension as to what they will see, before it hits a crescendo of understanding, before falling back into a more contemplative sound.

'Coker and Kirby' (1 min, 48 sec) opens with a very 2001 drone, before breaking into pipes. Old friends meet with the weight of their loves and regrets and the track reflects this sadness, with large sweeping notes the music only softly builds before, like love and regrets the music fades away. Here we are introduced to the Coker theme for the first time played on bansuri and duduks.

'The Last Battle of Osiris' (8 min, 39 sec) has a single fleet ship going toe to toe with a Basestar. The track opens with strings; heavy drums start to kick in, but this deceptively settles, the track even becomes quieter. Only the snare drum indicated the explosion of music which will follow. This too comes and goes following the ebb and flow of the battle.

'Emergency Landing' (1 min, 58 sec) opens with a staccato beat and the heavy doom laden drums, these are joined by more drums and a wailing over track which builds and builds to a crescendo. Ladies and gentleman we have landed.

From this point on the action moves away from the fleet, with the second half of the story taking place on an ice planet. With the major themes already introduced Bear uses these to enhance both character and action.

'The Ice Cave' (5 min, 23 sec) opens with more sweepingly majestic sounds, until we discover a survivor, who is introduced with electric sitar. Once again the central section has a very 2001 feel to it, before sitar, drums and orchestra explode in another peak as the survivors are attacked

'You Will Regret This' (5 min, 38 sec) basically has Adama and Becca getting it on. Being a love scene both their themes intertwine with a soft, muted musical palette, against soft bedrock of strings.

'Coker’s interlude' (2 min, 50 sec) is a solo piano. After getting it together with Becca, Adama finds Coker sitting alone, playing the piece.

'Ski Lodge Battle' (6 min, 28 sec) drums and strings all come together to produce a piece which alternates between apprehensive and explosive battle.

'Automated Cylon Transmission Relay' (2 min, 58 sec) character themes are reiterated to produce a feeling of other worldliness.

'A Cylon Spy' (4 min, 01 sec) and the final confrontation plays with heavy syth bass and Becca's theme as her folly is revealed.

'Coker’s Photo' (2 min, 32 sec) alone on the ice the two survivors await evac. The over lapping string versions of Coker’s themes play. The dense richness of the piece makes it more akin to classical music that the sort of thing you would normally hear on a television show.

'Husker' (3 min, 12 sec) and back on the Galactica the military snare drum indicates we are back in a war zone, the music builds as Adama realises Coker is alive. It then kicks up another notch, an almost yearning celebration of strings and drum as Adama finally takes his place behind the flight stick of a Viper.

'Apocalypse Blood and Chrome' (4 min, 53 sec) opens with the beautiful voice of Raya Yarbrough, before the droning bass synth breaks in, the piece finally breaks into a rousing song, which is sung in English, which feels incongruent, given the previous pieces.

Will you like it? Well fans of BSG certainly will. I would also hope that a few others will give it a punt, Bear McCreary really is a good composer, regardless of what medium he chooses to work in. The only drawback of the CD is the fact that it is a soundtrack and so composed of separated sections. It’s a fault of the medium, rather than a criticism of the music. Who knows, if it sells well we may look forward to him producing one which is one continuous piece.


Charles Packer

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