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Monday, January 09, 2006

CD REVIEWS - Syriana and Stargate Atlantis

Music by Alexandre Desplat
RCA Red Seal 82876-76121-2 (U.S.)
17 Tracks 45:54 mins

At the heart of Alexandre Desplat's score for the George Clooney political thriller Syriana is the sensitive and somewhat sad title theme, first presented on harp and strings, then given a very nice piano solo treatment, before ending in a more Easternised version, unfortunately with an underlying bass pulse, which appears all too often through the score, rather as it did in Birth, and spoils my enjoyment somewhat, as it did on that occasion. It could be the dreaded "curse of the temp track" again, I don't know, but enough already!
As one would expect, there is a good deal of intrigue along the way, but there are many exciting moments as well, some more Western in style, like the strings-driven Driving in Geneva and the minimalist Something Really Cool, but others driven by Eastern percussion and with the addition of ethnic instruments. I'll Walk Around, with its powerful timpani is particularly menacing, and Truce quite exciting.
Desplat is making quite a name for himself in the States and I look forward to his upcoming assignments, which will be hopefully free of that darn pulse!

Stargate Atlantis
Music by Joel Goldsmith
Varese Sarabande VSD-6700 (EU)
16 Tracks 42:18 mins

Glad to see Joel Goldsmith got to score the spin-off to the popular Stargate:SG1 sci-fi series, which sees a select group of scientists and soldiers sent to a distant planet which happens to be the location of the lost city of Atlantis. And, whereas much of his music for the original series was electronic, for the pilot of the spin-off at least, he got to use an orchestra and choir, which must have made a nice change for the composer, who is of course the son of the much-missed Jerry Goldsmith. I'm assuming pretty much all the music presented here is from that pilot, as the first season screened here in the U.K. recently and the episode music appeared mostly electronic.
Of course the title theme featured each week and is a fine, heroic piece for orchestra and choir, fragments of which crop up throughout the score, with a particularly nice reading in O'Neill Inbound. There is plenty of exciting action scoring throughout, some with a distinct martial element, some dark and menacing for the life-sucking Wraith, who our heroes unwittingly awaken from their slumber. Electronics are present in Atlantis Awakes, with its ethereal synthesised voices, and Tayla's Village, for the tribe of somewhat primitive humans the mission first discover, is suitably ethnic. The Rising, where Atlantis, at first submerged, is raised out of the water is suitably awe-filled and majestic.
Joel Goldsmith has been writing effective scores for the Stargate universe for a considerable time now, and it would be nice if the label could release some of the episode music at some stage in the future, rather like there was previously a Best of Stargate SG1 album released, albeit on another label.


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