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BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON 2
In space, no-one can hear you play the duduk
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2006 USA Cable Entertainment LLC; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
I don't know why, but for some reason it seems so much more difficult to appreciate music from tv series you haven't seen than it is with movies. A couple of years ago, I wrote about Richard Gibbs's music for the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that it was "bland electronica"; then I reported that during Bear McCreary's music for the first season of the show "there are times when the temptation to skip past another extended drum loop is impossible to resist." Despite this, the show has become phenomenally successful, and the music wildly popular and frequently noted as a key component of the show's success. Unfortunately, I've never seen an episode - and I wonder whether it's because of that that I really just don't get the music.
Music like this suggests a gritty inner-city drama to me, or maybe something from slightly further afield like Syriana. There's nothing here suggesting outer space, yet evidently the approach must work well, given the positive critical notices the music has received. For the most part, the music is formed on a synthetic base, with live elements dancing around on top - guitars, duduk, wailing female vocals - Dead Can Dance for outer space, perhaps. It's all been done countless times before (though not for televised science fiction, I must admit) and I'm sure you already know whether you'll like it or not.
There's one brief passage which breaks the mould - the outstanding, moving "A Promise to Return" followed by "Allegro" are played by a string quartet and really are impressive. The lengthy piece "Something Dark is Coming" is also intelligent, with a nice slowly-building mood that wouldn't be all that out of place in a trendy nightclub. The incredibly long album is bookended by two main themes - first, the Stu Philips theme from the original series is given an updating for strings and various ethnic ingredients, but even in that guise still sounds good; and at the end, there's the newer show's theme by Richard Gibbs. One of them will have you humming it for hours until it drives you insane; the other is so inane it will drive you insane. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.
I realise, as I enter the fourth paragraph, that there really was little point in me reviewing this title, as someone who hasn't seen the show (but would certainly like to) - the music's just not meant for me. There are some fine moments, and even the less interesting tracks remain eminently listenable, but I'm sure the show's loyal viewers are the target audience, and I'm absolutely sure that they will love it.