Soundtrack fans have had to wait a long time for a new collection of music from Deep Space Nine. Unlike TNG which has seen numerous releases over the years, the music of DS9 has been somewhat neglected. Up until this year there were only three albums which contained any music from the series, the first being the soundtrack to ‘Emissary’ which was released not long after the series premiered in 1993. Since then there were just two ‘Best of Star Trek’ albums which had a few tracks from ‘Way of the Warrior’ and ‘The Visitor’ and Nana Visitor’s wonderful rendition of Fever from ‘His Way’, and then nothing…
That is, until LaLaLand Records released their 4-CD Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection earlier this year. And what a collection! 99 tracks of music from various seasons, showcasing the best work from not only the veteran composers who were with Star Trek for many years, but also those who worked on the show less often but whose contributions couldn’t be overlooked.
CD1 – Dennis McCarthy
My opinion on McCarthy’s music has changed somewhat in the past 12 months, mostly due to various bootleg albums of his work on TNG. I’ve commented on how I find a lot of it indistinguishable, but that’s more down to the producers of the show asking him to compose music of that type rather than any lack of talent or artistic vision on his part. I think in DS9 the producers loosened the reins somewhat, and the selections of music on this first CD would certainly seem to indicate this. On this disc we have excerpts of the score from the following episodes:
In the Hands of the Prophets
The Die is Cast
Once More Unto the Breach
Far Beyond the Stars
You are Cordially Invited
If you had any doubts as to the quality of McCarthy’s scoring, the first track on the CD from ‘The Storyteller’ will win you over. Titled ‘Quaker Odo’ it’s a wonderfully light-hearted piece from a scene where Jake and Nog break into security and Nog throws a bucket full of Oatmeal at the station commander’s son, trying to convince him it was Odo. The title of the track is of course a pretty terrible pun based on ‘Quaker Oats’, but don’t let that put you off! It’s a complete contrast to the other tracks from this episode which are based around O’Brien and Bashir’s adventures in the village, which are much more dramatic and McCarthy also includes small snippets of themes from the main title sequence into the score, which is used a lot in early episodes much like the TNG theme is used in early episodes of that series.
Another stand out track is from the episode ‘Duet’. Titled ‘Revelation’, this comes from the conclusion of the episode as we learn the Cardassian prisoner’s true identity and is a wonderfully emotional piece which unfortunately ends in tragedy. Another tragic piece is from the episode ‘Life Support’, the track entitled ‘He’s Toast’ (remember, these names were never meant to be seen by the viewing public!) which plays as Kira says goodbye to Vedek Bereil. And of course, let us not forget the music from ‘The Visitor’ which plays when the elderly Jake talks to his Father for the last time.
Overall, the variety of music styles used by McCarthy over the seven year run of DS9 is well represented on this disc, it’s just a shame each of the composers here couldn’t have a CD set to themselves so we could hear more of it! Once you’ve finished listening to McCarthy’s work you move on to..
CD2 – Jay Chattaway
Jay Chattaway started composing for Star Trek with the TNG episode ‘Tin Man’, and soon became one of the two main regulars (pretty much replacing Ron Jones towards the end of Season 4), and he’s probably best known for composing the music for the episode ‘The Inner Light’, which has become one of the most recognisable themes from the run of TNG.
The selection of music on disc two comes from the following episodes:
By Inferno’s Light
Call to Arms
One Little Ship
The Changing Face of Evil
Our Man Bashir (Source Cues)
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, source music is music which is intended to actually occur in the scene which the characters can hear, for example if a radio was playing in the background. The source music he composed for ‘Our Man Bashir’ is something which could have come right out of the 60’s, and it shows Chattaway’s versatility wonderfully.
From ‘The Search Pt. II’ we have the track entitled… ‘The Ultimate Handjob’ (Yes, I know..), but names aside this is a wonderful piece played as Odo is introduced to the Great Link, and it manages to portray the sense of wonderment that he must be feeling as he finally finds the home planet of his people.
Chattaway’s experience with scoring action sequences is also well represented, with the tracks ‘Armageddon Denied’ and ‘The First Shall be the Last’ from the episodes ‘By Inferno’s Light’ and ‘One Little Ship’, showing he truly is a composer who can turn his hand to any style.
Moving on, up next we have…
CD3 – John Debney, Richard Bellis, David Bell, Paul Baillargeon, Gregory Smith
Titled by LaLaLand as the ‘New Recruits’ disc, all of these composers joined during DS9’s run, and we have music from the following:
Debney – The Nagus, Progress
Bellis – The House of Quark
Bell – The Sword of Kahless, The Ascent, Soldiers of the Empire, Sacrifice of Angels, In the Pale Moonlight, Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Covenant, Tacking Into the Wind
Smith – The Assignment, Field of Fire
Baillargeon – Little Green Men, Children of Time, The Siege of AR-558
David Bell is obviously the most well represented composer on this disc, but he was also the composer from this group who scored the most episodes, 24 in total across the seven seasons. Although the previous discs do contain a lot of variety, it’s even more pronounced here due to the differing approaches by the various composers.
Personal favourites of mine on this disc include the track ‘Solok Watches Batting Practice’, where the crew of the station attempt (not always successfully) to get to grips with the game of Baseball from the episode ‘Take me out to the Holosuite’, and the music has portions which evoke that feeling of actually being at a real game (Not that I would know what that feels like!). Also well worth a listen is the incredibly emotional ‘War Adagio’ from ‘The Siege of AR-558’. As Baillargeon himself said in an interview with LaLaLand:
“I’ll write something nice and you should put the music up front. Don’t put all the effects up front because if [they] are up front, no matter what I do we won’t hear it… That was the one I enjoyed the most writing the music for”
Lastly, we come to the fourth CD, which we may have heard much sooner…
CD4 – The ‘Lost Album’
After the series ended, a CD proposal was put together for GNP Crescendo (who were putting out most of the Star Trek CD releases at that time) using music from popular episodes as well as the series finale. Unfortunately at the time due to various reasons that CD was never commissioned, however thankfully it’s now included in this set. The episodes in question are:
Our Man Bashir (Jay Chattaway)
Trials and Tribble-ations (Dennis McCarthy)
What You Leave Behind (Dennis McCarthy)
Chattaway based the score for ‘Our Man Bashir’ on John Barry’s memorable James Bond scores from the 1960s, and from the first notes you hear in this episode where you see Falcon being thrown through the glass you know you’re in for something special. Hearing a big band version of the DS9 theme mixed in with the action is a treat, although we almost didn’t get it!
“I had to fight pretty hard to get to do that… I thought we’d all get fired after the first scoring session… I was specifically asked not to do it that way, but once they heard what we were doing they liked it”
‘Trials and Tribble-actions’ has some great homages to the Original Series from almost the start, with echos of Alexander Courage’s fanfare in the track ‘Ye Olde Shippe’, and a re-scored fight scene in ‘Famous Fight’ which evokes some of the feeling of that original scene, yet is very distinctly a McCarthy piece.
Lastly we have the series finale, and McCarthy has a chance to score some epic space battles – he grabs the chance with both hands and produces some of his best work. I can’t really describe them in enough detail to do them justice, suffice it to say the action and suspense of this episode is accurately portrayed in the music and when it’s all over it just leaves you wanting more. The final track from this episode is a clean musical version of ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, in the original mix which wasn’t heard in the episode as Rick Berman requested that some of the elements be reduced in volume.
There are also a couple of special treats at the end of this CD, with the track ‘Dennis Speaks’ which gives you a brief glimpse behind the scenes as you hear McCarthy thank the orchestra and look forward to working with them on Voyager, and the final track on the set which is a solo piano version of the main DS9 theme, ‘3:00am at Quarks’ which is a wonderful piece, and personally I think it would have been fitting to play it over the end credits in the final episode.
Overall, I can’t recommend this set highly enough. Soundtrack fans such as myself will appreciate it as a showcase for some of the best work by the composers over the seven year run of the show, and fans of the series who haven’t necessarily ever taken much notice of the music (I know there are a lot of you out there!) will hopefully get something out of it as well, especially because of the well written accompanying booklet my well respected Star Trek musical historian (If that’s the right way to describe him) Jeff Bond, who also authored the 1999 book ‘The Music of Star Trek’.
If this set was an eBay auction, you could describe it as:
‘AAA++++ 10/10, Great Soundtrack, Would Definitely Listen Again’
For more information, or to order the collection, visit http://www.lalalandrecords.com/DS9.html
Quotes taken from the booklet included with the ‘Star Trek Deep Space Nine Collection’ by LaLaLand Records, written by Jeff Bond.
Images taken from LaLaLand Records and Memory Alpha.