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Music Review: Battlestar Galactica Season 3 – Soundtrack/Music Composed by Bear McCreary

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When the Sci-Fi Channel announced a new, reimagined Battlestar Galactica back in 2003, I was skeptical.

I was a fan of the original series, as dated as it seems now, from watching it in my youth. When I read about many of the elements that were being changed, I was even more skeptical. Then Edward James Olmos said if you were a fan of the original that you shouldn’t watch this new take. Well, I watched it and enjoyed it, even though it left me underwhelmed.

Then the series was announced, I started watching it and was I instantly hooked. The look, the writing, the acting, the effects, everything came together in such a perfect way that it fast became one of my favorites, and easily one of the best series currently in production.

There was, however, one more element that helped make it feel so fresh, original, and exciting. That element was, and is the music of Bear McCreary. This is the third collection of his music from the series, and my first exposure to it away from the show. Based on what I’ve heard here, I now know I must get the others.

I have watched every episode of the series, and still feel that I have barely scratched the surface of what it offers. That said, I could not point you to any particular episode where the music stands out, or where specific pieces first appeared. But that in no way diminishes their value. If anything, this helps me enjoy the music apart from the show. As I listen, I am reminded of the show and its greatness, but I do not have episodes or scenes running through my head distracting me from the music at hand.

Bear’s work for Battlestar Galactica is far and away some of, if not the best soundtrack work done for any television series. It is at the top of my list for sure. There are few television series whose music makes a big impact on me outside of the show. The only ones that come to mind are Farscape, The X-Files, Firefly, and perhaps Stargate SG-1. While those, and probably a few others I missed are definitely good or even great, one listen to the music of Battlestar Galactica should convince anyone of just how special this creation is.

The music on this collection is simply spectacular. Bear has a unique style that brings so much flavor and texture to the series, that I cannot picture anyone else being able to replicate his work. His music is filled with drama, thrills, energy, excitement, sadness, joy, and hope. It runs the gamut from soft and quiet ambience, to huge arena bombast and all stops in between.

Bear McCreary’s creation brings together several different instruments from traditional brass and strings, to guitars and drums, to vocal and synth elements. He combines all of these with a variety of styles and influences coming from a number of different cultures and countries around the world. Just as the series explores the borders of sci-fi and pushes the boundaries of dramatic television, the music likewise explores all facets of music. The end result is a unique and diverse melting pot that exhibits all of these elements, yet somehow feels brand new.

Among the standout tracks on this disk are “A Distant Sadness,” “Precipice,” “Storming New Caprica,” “Violence and Variations,” “The Dance,” “Fight Night,” “Dirty Hands,” and “Mandala in the Clouds.” If that seems like a lot, it’s only because there is so much great music here to choose from — there really are no bad tracks to be found on this disc.

As if that wasn’t enough, the final track is Bear McCreary’s take on the classic “All Along the Watchtower,” which was used to such great effect at the end of the Season 3 finale. I had hoped that this would be included. The song is instantly recognizable, yet fits distinctly into the musical style created for Battlestar Galactica..

Bottomline. There is no way you can go wrong with this disk. If you are a fan of the series, this is a must. For those who are unfamiliar with the series but are interested in unique music and/or like scores even without knowing where it is used, give this a shot. You will not be disappointed. This is a beautiful and phenomenal collection of music.

Highly Recommended.

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