by Mike Brennan
I am writing this article from aboard a research vessel in the Black Sea. As luck would have it, I happened to take the soundtrack from the first season with me, so when SoundtrackNet asked me to write this "First Listen", I had that with me for comparison. I'm also lucky to have left the country after the finale of "Battlestar Galactica" aired, and that sure wasn't one to miss!
Beginning with Richard Gibbs' score for the "Battlestar Galactic"a mini-series in 2003, the series was picked up by Bear McCreary. To date, we have had one compilation from Season One and following the stunning conclusion to the second season, La La Land Records offers a great selection from Season Two. SoundtrackNet is proud to offer our readers a preview of this exciting and much anticipated soundtrack release.
Please note that the latest version of Quicktime is required to listen to the audio, and clicking the track titles below will pop open a new window. If the media server is overloaded, try again later!
Windows users: you might have an issue with the Quicktime Plugin. Be sure to upgrade, and if necessary, "reload" the popup window (Ctrl-R)
1. Colonial Anthem ("Theme from Battlestar Galactica" from 'Final Cut') (4:03)
This track opens the album with a very different sound than we are used to for the series because it contains music from the original "Battlestar Galactica" by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson, arranged by Bear McCreary. This cue sounds a bit more "Star Treky" than the sound Gibbs and McCreary have developed for the new series, but it is a nice glance back to the show's origins. Some nice brass and percussion is featured in this upbeat cue and it is a great opener for the album.
2. Baltar's Dream (from 'Valley of Darkness') (2:46)
An electric violin starts off this cue with an eerie tone before some metallic percussion takes over. Baltar is one of the show's most unpredictable characters and I find that this odd sound fits his character's downward spiral perfectly.
3. Escape from the Farm (from 'The Farm') (3:12)
More heavy percussion and eerie sounds continue in this cue. We also get a hint of one of the main motifs for the show, the pulsating violin chords. After a brief hint at it, the low strings and percussion push it away, joined this time by Middle Eastern woodwinds for this action cue.
4. A Promise to Return (from 'The Farm') (3:05)
McCreary organized a string quartet for the emotional farewell between Starbuck and Anders on Caprica. The pulsating motif flows in the low strings behind the violins. This cue is dedicated to the recovery of Ludvig Girdland and performed beautifully by the Supernova String Quartet. This track fits the sound of the series with the string motifs, but is a new style all together, which is something McCreary steadily adds to the second season.
5. Allegro (from 'Home Part One') (5:02)
More string ensemble begins this cue in a more restrained manner, but with more players than the quartet. Again, the same main motif in the strings dominates this cue, but to an entirely different effect than the previous cue. A number of slow tracks begin this album, but all viewers know that the action is there in force and this album begins to pick up
6. Martial Law (from 'Fragged') (1:53)
This cue showcases a militaristic theme performed by the French horns that, unfortunately, only appears this once. A slow theme backed by restrained percussion, this is one of my favorites, mostly because it is a very different sound for the show. The brass makes rare appearances; the taiko percussion is usually solo and it is nice to hear the horns come in over the beats, even for a short time. The taiko roll the cue to a close.
7. Standing in the Mud (from 'Black Market') (1:48)
A tense cue, an acoustic guitar and Middle Eastern instruments dominate it. McCreary has done an excellent job and continuing Gibbs' use of multiple ethnic instrumentations to bring a feel of all ethnicities to the series, as it is the story of the last of all of mankind. Mixing Celtic, Asian, Middle Eastern, and a whole assembly of other kinds to the mix, this is one of the elements that make this soundtrack and this series so amazing.
8. Pegasus (from 'Pegasus') (2:48)
For the episode "Pegasus", McCreary laid the guitars on heavy. This cue begins quietly, with soft electric guitar chords, which are then joined by popish drums. The orchestra comes in toward the end to support the guitar theme. A bit of Middle Eastern woodwind can be heard in the background just before the cue ends.
9. Lords of Kobol (from 'Pegasus') (2:52)
Raya Yarbrough provides vocals for this cue, adding a depth to the music. Light percussion then comes in before Yarbrough returns with heavy guitars. Her voice is dubbed into multiple parts behind the electric guitars. Every episode of "Battlestar Galactica" has a slightly different sound for it, but McCreary gave this one a distinctly varied tone, from the electric guitars to Yarbrough's vocals.
10. Something Dark is Coming (from 'Lay Down Your Burdens Part One') (8:54)
The longest track on the album opens quietly with some bass guitar chords. Quiet but heavy percussion and woodwinds follow. A different electric guitar style from the previous cue is used here. The percussion begins to take over through the cue, pushing the guitars and ambient electronics to the background. I found this cue a bit slow and probably didn't need to be so long. The low strings take up a version of the main string motif toward the end and the track closes as quietly as it began.
11. Scar (from 'Scar') (2:28)
Highly percussive, this short cue has some very complex drum rhythms and is quite fun. The use of Japanese taiko has always been a defining part of Battlestar Galactica's music and the second season continues this trend. Of course, this cue has more than just taikos in the percussion mix. The cue slows in the middle, but the drums return for a pounding end.
12. Epiphanies (from 'Epiphanies') (2:45)
A solo violin performs a quiet statement of one of the main themes before woodwinds and low strings enter with a variation on the pulsing string motif.
13. Roslin and Adama (from 'Resurrection Ship Parts One and Two') (2:52)
An electric violin creates a somber mood in the style of Zimmer's quieter moments from Black Hawk Down. Actually, the similarities are quite close, with the electric violin and piano, but the effect is wonderful; this is actually a cue I remember from the series when I was watching it on air. The style changes halfway through to a faster beat with acoustic guitar and light percussion backing up the violin.
14. Gina Escapes (from 'Resurrection Ship Part Two') (2:02)
Heavy percussion and a strange Eastern guitar give this cue a very strange sound and I honestly cannot remember what scene this cue corresponds to. Some of the ethnic music in the second season accompanies some of the series writers' efforts to expand the viewers' understanding of the culture aboard ships other than Galactica.
15. Dark Unions (from 'Lay Down Your Burdens Part Two') (2:56)
A quiet cue, some ambient sounds give way to flutes and light drums halfway through. The percussion takes over completely in the last few seconds and pounds to a close.
16. The Cylon Prisoner (from 'Pegasus') (3:51)
For some reason, the tracks are not grouped by episode, so we return to the guitar-dominted "Pegasus" here. Bt4 is the featured vocalist here, behind some twanging, western-sounding guitars. His wordless vocals add yet another strange sound to the mix. This is one of the slower cues on the album, but again adds to the variety of sounds used in the series.
17. Prelude to War (from 'Pegasus' and 'Resurrection Parts One and Two') (8:25)
This track will get the "repeat" treatment in your CD player. Beginning with moving strings over snare drums, the lengthy cue builds as Middle Eastern woodwinds come in behind the strings. Japanese taiko then take over in the classic solo style that Gibbs began for the space battles in the mini-series. Taiko are used so often in film today, they are done right here, used both solo and as percussion behind the orchestra. Various rhythms in the taiko over the past two seasons and the mini series also can be considered various themes, though much relates to space battles. The cue builds with the taiko and then the string theme comes back over the drums. The taikos pound to a dramatic finale and end the cue.
18. Reuniting the Fleet (from 'Home Parts One and Two') (2:50)
One problem with a compilation release of selections from an entire season is a lack of thematic cohesion between cues due to the large amount of music. This cue contains a Celtic theme that McCreary introduced in "The Hand of God" from the first season, which appears in the tracks "A Good Lighter" and "Wander my Friends" from the first album. This theme is for the fleet and also for the Adama father/son relationship. I am happy to see it resurface in season two.
19. Roslin Confesses (from 'Lay Down Your Burdens Part Two') (2:07)
Okay, so I didn't notice the music during this scene because I was yelling for Roslin not to confess! Now, however, I get to hear the music. A quiet string section plays a sad dirge for the losing president and the Black Hawk Down-like theme returns briefly for President Roslin.
20. One Year Later (from 'Lay Down Your Burdens Part Two') (1:45)
Piano and light percussion accompany the beginning of a mind-blowing turn of events. Violins come in and out in the background as the music builds. The steady and eerily quiet tone for this cue accompanies viewers' thinking, "what's going on?"
21. Worthy of Survival (from 'Lay Down Your Burdens Part Two') (3:39)
We find out what's going on all too quickly and the music darkens just as fast. A low solo flute plays sorrowfully and percussion eventually comes in as the strings play another variation on their pulsating motif. The drums take on a typical "Battlestar Galactica" battle tempo as viewers start to think, "Aww, crap." Taiko and Middle Eastern woodwinds close the season with a bang.
22. Battlestar Galactica Main Title (Richard Gibbs) (0:47)
We all know this cue. The shortened main title for the second season contains vocals by Michael Now and Caitanya Riggan. I like how each episode's main title changes to show snippets of the upcoming show once the percussion takes over the cue.
23. Black Market (from 'Black Market') (5:48)
Why this cue is stuck on at the end, I have no clue. It features Steve Bartek on electric guitar in an African market/Gladiator-sounding cue. Bartek's guitar takes over in a rock-style toward the end in a very out-of-place cue (maybe that's why it is at the end?). Again, the mix of sounds is what defines the score and the use of three different sounds of guitar here (heavy and lead electric, and acoustic) give it a very interesting sound. A North African instrument comes in behind the heavy guitar at the end.
This is a strange way to close the album, but listeners can put the cues in any order they want anyway. The second season soundtrack is yet another step in the right direction and I am sure fans of the series and the score are waiting on the edge of their seats for season three. I sure am.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two will be released on June 13, 2006 on La-La Land Records. Bear McCreary will be signing the album at Dark Delicacies on June 10, in Burbank.
Special thanks to Michael Gerhard at La-La Land Records, Dan Goldwasser, and Bear McCreary