CD REVIEW - DARK VOID
Music by Bear McCreary
Sumthing Else SE-2077-2 (US)
27 Tracks 79:43 mins
I must admit that it took me a while to warm to Bear McCreary's music for the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, as it did the show, but as the show progressed over its four seasons, both it and Bear's music grew in stature and also in my affections, so that by its conclusion, I was quite hooked on both.
Bear's often exotic and ethnic styled music certainly stood out from the largely electronic accompaniments to most contemporary TV shows and he soon became very much in demand, both for episodic TV and for the occasional movie outing as well. He continues to be busy in TV providing often subtle accompaniment for the Battlestar prequel Caprica, and ripping it up for the action-packed Human Target (which I'm really looking forward to seeing and hearing on UK terrestrial TV someone pick it up, please!).
One medium he hadn't tackled thus far was videogames, although he has been a gamer from a young age, citing the 8-bit sounds of Capcom's Mega Man II as a surprising influence. Now Capcom has come calling with its new sci-fi action adventure game, Dark Void.
McCreary knew what he wanted to hear from the music: "a swashbuckling orchestral score in keeping with the grand story of the game." He wanted the music "to constantly adapt, as if it were being written specifically for the gamer, with virtually no repetition whatsoever."
To realise this, McCreary recorded his score at the renowned Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage, bringing together many of the talented musicians who have worked on his previous scores, supplemented by a large orchestra, and also featuring Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre's favourite, Ondes Martenot performer, and composer in her own right, Cynthia Millar.
So how would I describe the music to Dark Void? Put it this way, if you are a fan of Bear's music for Battlestar Galactica, you are going to love this, because, to my ear, it's a first cousin at the very least. Right from the very first track, the heroic "Theme from Dark Void," you'll be hooked, as his familiar battery of percussion propels many a rhythmic and exciting action cue. It's powerful, high adrenalin stuff and hugely enjoyable. In between, there are gentler moments, with the versatile main theme cropping up throughout, doubling as a bittersweet love theme and often appearing wistfully on flute or strings. Throughout, McCreary interweaves his familiar ethnic exotica, and the musicianship of his crew is up to its usual high standards, with some great solos, and the sound of the Ondes Martenot providing that serene outer-space quality, exhbited in scores like Heavy Metal, and bringing forth in me a real feeling of nostalgia. Really, every track has something to offer and the 79 minutes+ pass like half that time.
It all adds up to one of the best game soundtracks you're ever likely to hear. In fact, it's hard to believe, even in these early days of 2010, that it won't feature in my top ten albums of the year.
What's more, I'm sure, as he did with the Battlestar scores, McCreary could fashion a great concert out of this music.
The accompanying album notes from the composer (from which the above extract is taken) are supplemented by plenty of colour stills from the recording sessions.
Oh, and by the way, McCreary also provided the 8-bit music for the prequel game Dark Void Zero (the main theme of which is included here as a bonus track), something that I'm sure pleased him no end.
Surely it is only a matter of time before the big budget movies come calling for Bear McCreary. His distinctive sound would certainly come as a breath of fresh air amongst the smog of formulaic music that inhabits many of today's blockbusters. Anyone so in tune and genuinely caring with their fans as he is (check out his "Battlestar Blog" at www.bearmccreary.com - you won't be disappointed) deserves every success.
Order your copy of the Dark Void album on CD from your regular retail outlet, or download from www.sumthingdigital.com.