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Impressive, exciting tv music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * 1/2
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2005 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall
Roland Emmerich's first big blockbuster, Stargate, was as absurdly successful as it was absurd. I sat watching it one day wondering how on earth a film quite so bad could ever have made any real money, but that's what it did. If someone had said to me at the time that it would spawn not one but two enormously-popular television spinoffs I would have thought that person to be out of his mind... which just goes to show what I know! The latest is Stargate: Atlantis, which began in 2004, starring Joe Flanigan.
The show's regular composer is Joel Goldsmith, who previously worked on Stargate SG-1. This album is the first release of music from the show and seems to cover its first season (though I'm no expert on the show - as you may have guessed - so I can't say that for sure). The peril of a 40-minute album summarising many hours of music written over a lengthy period for an ongoing piece of episodic television is that it will end up sounding bitty and more like a collection of disparate pieces than an album which can be enjoyed from start to finish, but fortunately through extremely good track sequencing that problem is pretty much avoided entirely with Stargate: Atlantis, an album which sounds like it comes from a straight dramatic film score and is actually just the right length.
Goldsmith's theme is full of awe and wonder and excitement and the only real shame is that it's only a minute long. The rest of the album is actually a very reasonable balance of those different elements and, while the more ethereal selections are all very pleasant, it's the action music where Goldsmith really comes into his own, with pieces such as "Atlantis Takes Flight", "Wraith Abductions" and "Dart Battle" containing beautifully clear, well-orchestrated thrills that put a lot of what passes for action music in $150m blockbusters to shame.
Goldsmith has demonstrated on countless occasions that he is a very highly-skilled composer and on the one hand it is frustrating that he is seemingly only able to demonstrate it on films which nobody ever sees and on television, but I suppose on the other he is clearly able to work on projects which personally interest him, and when the all-too-rare CDs of his works do surface, they are almost always worth the wait. For sure, Stargate: Atlantis is nothing earth-shattering, but it's a hundred times better than most of the dreck written for television, and hugely enjoyable.