Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rediscover the Undiscovered Country...

1991. The Cold War was over. The Iron Curtain had fallen. So it was only fitting that as the real thing came to an end, so did the fictional cold war between Star Trek's Federation and the Klingon Empire. With Gene Roddenberry's health poor, the powers that be at Paramount very wisely came to Leonard Nimoy to take the proverbial helm with things. Nimoy had previously directed Star Trek's III and IV to great success, but never before had a cast member made the transition to a role of such creative control and power as Nimoy did as Executive Producer of the 6th Star Trek film. Leonard hired Nicolas Meyer (director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) to direct, and together they orchestrated the final voyager of the original crew of the Enterprise on the shows 25th anniversary.

The score to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country stands out as unique through it's dark, brooding, ominous themes that resonate throughout, offset by it's more typical upbeat and hopeful elements. Composed by Cliff Eidelman, one of the only composers in Star Trek not to return and compose for other elements of the franchise, the score to TUC (as it's known in internet short-hand) is one of the few Star Trek scores that stands alone. It fits the film itself perfectly, in my humble opinion, and I've often wondered why Eidelman never returned to Star Trek. For the past 15 years, most of us have only ever heard the 13 tracks made available on the commercial album. Recently though, I discovered the expanded edition through my friend Jose at La Leyenda De Los Soundtracks. As far as I know, he is responsible for putting it on-line first, so credit goes to him. I've re-uploaded it so that we aren't mooching off of Jose's download link. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Battlestar Galactica Season 3...

Jose over at La Leyenda De Los Soundtracks has just put up the third season score for Battlestar Galactica (2003). The score was made available pre-release during an autograph signing with composer Bear McCreary back on October 9th. It is officially released later today, October 23rd, and I'll be buying my copy then. Early bird gets the worm, though! For the next few hours, this is still an 'unreleased' score. Either way though, it's fantastic music. Bear McCreary is the most innovative composers I've ever known of. He's ranked as one my top 3 composers (Jerry Goldsmith, Shirley Walker being the other 2). He's also a nice guy; responded to an e-mail I sent him once, something not many people in the business do.

Anyway, since La Leyenda has had to close to the public (subscribers only now - too many people where re-distributing the scores as their own without giving proper credit) I'm going to direct-link you guys to the download...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oh, What A Week...

Oh, what a week I've had...

Who would have ever thought that getting a new(er) computer to upgrade to would be such a monumental and frustrating chore? I thought I had some concept of this before I began such, and yet in hindsight now, I see I was sorely unprepared for the true scope of such an undertaking...

It all began three weeks ago. A friend asked me to come and play an on-line game with him, like we once upon a time used to do. I was willing to oblige, but unable courtesy of antique hardware. So my friend decided to take it upon himself to catch me up some on the latest hardware. Well, sort of. One of his old computers (he goes through them like the seasons change) was more than suitable to get me up to spec, so he provided me with such. Thus began the frustration of data migration...

You all know without me having to tell you, just how large a file collection can become - especially a soundtrack or even general music collection. Well I'm a collector of many things, so whatever number of gigabytes you have rolling around your head, quadruple it. Then double whatever you just came up with. That's me. And migrating that much data from a 5-year-old computer equipped with only USB 1, well... if you know technology, you know how long of an ordeal we're discussing. Hours upon hours upon hours, as my data snaked it's way up along a USB cord at a snail's pace, moving from it's comfortable home hard drives to a new naked external drive in the effort to save my most precious data.

A week later, I'm finally just getting settled in on this new machine. Setting things to my preferences. Trying to remember oh so many password and login combinations that I'd had stored via auto-complete in my old machine. Still, I didn't want to keep with the negative trend of going more than a week without posting something new. So I scrounged together a score I'm quite fond of, even if it is a commercial release (translation: lacking in additional and/or rare content). One of those summer blockbusters of a few years ago, The Day After Tomorrow sounds somewhat like the title for a Bond movie. On the contrary though, as Global Warming became more of a central issue, this movie cashed in through the use of a awesome special effects, a 20-something heart-throb (Jake Gylenhaal) and some veteran talent (Dennis Quaid, Sela Ward).

The score is by a fellow named Harold Kloser, whom though I can't for the life of me say I've heard of before to my off-the-top-of-my-head-knowledge, created a wonderful score with a brooding-yet-hopeful central theme. Have a download and a listen, and enjoy. ;)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Big Chance to Get Away From It All...

McCoy: "Where are we going?"
Kirk: "Wherever they went."
McCoy: "Suppose they went nowhere."
Kirk: "Then this will be your big chance to get away from it all."
-- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

That pretty much sums up where I've been at: nowhere. It's been two weeks since I last "blogged" simply because... well, I'm new to this, and I forgot. Call it attention deficit disorder, call it busy, call it lazy, or call me a procrastinator... any and/or all of those work and are apt to apply to me. Why? Well, why is the sky blue or the grass green? Ok, bad examples, as those actually do have answers when you get down to the science of it. Point is, asking me to explain why I am the way I am would be inviting a lecture. One you don't want to hear (or read as the case may be) and one I certainly don't want to supply. So... you'll just have to take some solace in the fact that I'm here, now, and come bearing gifts. Well, a gift actually. Singular. But it's a good one for all you Sci-Fi Score fans out there in the internet etherland!

In the fall of 1995, the FOX network did something they're well known for; they picked up a risky high-concept show that would become a cult classic. At the end of that season, in the spring of 1996, they would do what they're notorious for; cancelling said risky high-concept show due to a variety of reasons (idiocy, impatience, incompetence, arrogance). Still, like oh so many beloved-but-cancelled FOX shows, it was 'the little show that could'. Could do what? Survive. Even in the barren depths of cancellation, far from the cut-off point for standard syndication (24 out of a required minimum 75 episodes) the show would cling to the ribs of those who had inhaled it during it's run and eventually find some rebirth (or perhaps re-breath if we want to keep with the silliness) through the Sci-Fi Channel, and finally, years later, release upon DVD.

What was this show? Well, in internet short-hand, you might think someone is speaking about a car, but you'd be wrong. When someone says SAAB in a sci-fi context, it's not the automobile they're referencing, but dynamic duo Glen Morgan and James Wong's short-lived love-child, Space: Above & Beyond. Morgan and Wong, one of the best creative duos I've known of, are most-well-known for their work on The X-Files. SAAB was their baby, though. The aforelabeled risky high-concept of the show was simple on the surface; space marines. No, we're not talking Starship Troopers style of space marines. We're talking realistic and bold, fresh and unique. Something actual marines could be proud of. Set in 2063, the show followed the primary 6 members of the 58th Squadron, the Wildcards. Five of them team members and the sixth, their CO, Colonel McQueen. From various backgrounds, the 58th found themselves on the front lines of a brave new world; interstellar war with the first known alien race.

Now, I could sit here and lament how that, if FOX has simply shown some patience and flexibility, SAAB might have survived longer than a mere one season. In my opinion, if a show doesn't achieve ratings success in a particular day and/or time, the smart idea would be to move the show to another day and/or time to see if it achieves an audience there. Maybe even do that more than once before flushing such an investment down the toilet. This is FOX, though. Any genre fan knows from the get-go; if it's on FOX, don't get attached to it. Outside of The X-Files, no genre show has lasted on the network. Despite this, they've traditionally been the only network willing to give such concepts even a chance, so creators find themselves between a rock and a hard-place; have their show on FOX and give it a snowball's chance in hell, or have their show not produced because the 'big three' networks (traditionally) look at genre work as beneath them. After all, if it's not cops, lawyers or doctors, who the hell wants to see it?

Anyway... the score for Space: Above & Beyond was, to say the least, rousing and memorable. Then again, I'd expect nothing less from one of my top three composers of all time, the late great Shirley Walker (who, yes, also scored Batman: The Animated Series). That said, the score to SAAB, like the score to B:TAS, is beyond the term 'rare'. While it exists, you'll be hard-pressed to find physical proof of that. Like much of Shirley's scores, they received limited (if any) release for reasons beyond my understanding. Which is why sharing what little I have of her work is so very important to me. It's not easy to become one of my favorite composers, and it's even harder to do so when I can't just pick up a dozen scores of your composition at Wal-Mart. It's easy enough to do with the late Jerry Goldsmith, of course. Not so much with Shirley. Which has to say something about how great her work is; that while she toiled in relative obscurity next to giants like Goldsmith and (the often overrated) Williams, she still managed to break through to people with her work and make a lasting and appreciative impression.

So, without further rambling, I present to you Shirley Walker's score to the pilot of Space: Above & Beyond...