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Josh Relishes Listening to the New Collection of Music From Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

October 23rd, 2013

Following last year’s release of the terrific collection of music from Star Trek: The Next Generation, I was flabbergasted to hear of the release of a similar collection of music from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  DS9 is my very favorite of the Trek TV shows, but it also feels like the most niche of the Trek series, in stark contrast to the more popular, mainstream Next Gen.  That we got such an awesome collection of music from Star Trek: The Next Generation was amazing.  To get a similar collection of music from Deep Space Nine?  Unbelievable!!

This four-CD collection is everything I could have hoped for and more.  The first three discs follow a similar patten as did the Next Gen CD set.  Disc one contains the work of Dennis McCarthy, disc two contains the work of Jay Chattaway, and disc three contains selections from a variety of guest composers who scored episodes over the course of the series’ run.  (As they did for Next Gen, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Chattaway scored the vast majority of Deep Space Nine’s episodes, regularly alternating episodes.)  The fourth disc is an extra cherry on top of this already delicious sundae — extensive music from three very popular episodes: the James Bond parody “Our Man Bashir”; the Classic Trek “Trouble with Tribbles” crossover episode in honor of Star Trek’s 30th anniversary, “Trials and Tribble-ations”; and the series finale “What You Leave Behind.”

This CD set is magnificent, a must-have for every DS9 fan out there.  I still can’t believe this thing exists!  The track selection is spectacular, as the producers drew a wide variety of music from episodes from throughout the series’ seven-season run.  All the classic bits of score that I could have wanted from my favorite DS9 episodes are contained on this set.

Disc One: Dennis McCarthy — In an interesting choice, just as Mr. McCarthy’s disc on the Next Gen collection began with a surprisingly long excerpt from a lame season one episode, so to does Mr. McCarthy’s DS9 disc, in this case from the first season episode “The Storyteller.”  That’s not a great episode, but the score is actually quite good!  I LOVE how Mr. McCarthy wove the main DS9 theme into his scores for those early episodes.  The season one finale, “In the Hands of the Prophets,” has some great suspense music for the climactic sequence in which O’Brien races to stop an assassin headed towards the Promenade, and I was delighted to see that piece of music included.  We get to hear some great action music from the season two three-part premiere (in tracks 8 and 9, “The Circle”) and also for the great fourth season mirror universe episode “Shattered Mirror” (track 20), in which the Defiant attacks the Klingon flagship in an awesome visual effects action sequence.  Speaking of action sequences, one of my favorites from DS9′s early years was the Dominion ambush of the joint Cardassian/Romulan fleet in the third-season episode “The Die is Cast.”  Mr. McCarthy’s amazing music for that battle is included on the CD (track 15), and it is spectacular.  The disc closes with some great music from the Worf/Dax wedding in season six’s “You Are Cordially Invited.”  Track 23 is a fun surprise, a short bit that is a really warm, sweet presentation of the DS9 main theme, and then track 24 is the wedding music, weird and crazy (and thankfully avoiding some of the cliche “Klingon” sounds).

Disc Two: Jay Chattaway — In my review of the Next Gen collection, I commented that I thought Mr. Chattaway’s disc wasn’t as interesting to listen to as was Mr. McCarthy’s, because I felt that Mr. Chattaway’s music on the collection had a certain amount of sameness to it.  That is DEFINITELY NOT the case here on the Deep Space Nine collection!  This disc of music is spectacular, as good as if not better than Mr. McCarthy’s disc.  Whereas Mr. McCarthy’s disc drew shorter cues from a wide variety of episodes, Mr. Chattaway’s DS9 disc presents slightly longer sequences from fewer episodes.  (It’s an interesting and subtle difference, and it’s hard to say which approach I favor.)  This disc focuses on Mr. Chattaway’s action music work for DS9, and we get some GREAT action music on this disc!  There’s terrific, exciting music from the season three two-part premiere “The Search” and the season five “By Inferno’s Light,” as well as some really fun, propulsive stuff from the season six episode “One Little Ship.”  But my favorite part of this disc — and one of the pieces of music I was most hoping to hear on the CD — is Mr. Chattaway’s phenomenal work for the season five finale, “Call to Arms,” in which the Cardassian and Dominion forces launch an all-out attack on DS9, eventually driving off the Federation and seizing control of the station.  Watching that episode (which I have seen MANY times), I have always been taken by Mr. Chattaway’s dramatic, ominous theme for the Domion forces.  It’s rare to hear such a clear “bad guy” theme on a Star Trek episode.  I’m not quite sure how Mr. Chattaway got away with that, but it works so well in the episode, and the tracks from this episode (tracks 12-15) are a high-point of the entire four CD set.

Disc Three: The New Recruits — On the Next Gen disc, this third disc, featuring work by the guest composers who periodically worked on the show, was a letdown.  To my delight, that was absolutely not the case on the DS9 set.  This disc of work by the guest composers is just as terrific as the two discs devoted to Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Chattaway.  One of the main reasons for this is because throughout DS9’s run there were two Star Trek series being made simultaneously, which stretched Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Chattaway thin, necessitating far more guest composers on the show than there were on Next Gen.  As a result, many of the series’ best episodes were scored by these “guest composers.”  So whereas the Next Gen disc #3 only featured music from three episodes, this third DS9 disc highlights the work of many different composers, with excerpts from sixteen different episodes.  John Debney (who would go on to score a number of major movies, including The Emperor’s New Groove, Elf, Sin City, Iron Man 2, and MANY more) was featured on the Next Gen set, and we get to hear his work on two DS9 episodes here: “The Nagus” and “Progress” (tracks 2-5).  David Bell scored a large number of DS9 episodes, including some of my very favorites from the whole run of the show, including “The Sacrifice of Angels” and “In the Pale Moonlight.”  For “The Sacrifice of Angels” (tracks 11-13), Mr. Bell crafted some rip-roaring music to score the ginormous space-battles featured in the episode, in which we finally see the entire Starfleet in battle, kicking ass.  I was pleased that the set also included his somber music from the end of the episode and the tragic murder of Tora Ziyal.  Mr. Bell also scored a number of great Klingon episodes, and we get to hear samples of his work from two standouts: “The Sword of Kahless” (track 7) and, particularly great, his music for the great Worf-Martok fight in “Soldiers of the Empire” (track 10).  Speaking of Klingon fights, I also loved Mr. Bell’s thrilling work on the Worf-Gowron fight in one of the final episodes of the series, “Tacking into the Wind” (track 18).  The seventh season’s “Field of Fire” isn’t a great episode, but Gregory Smith’s score (tracks 20 & 21) is terrific, and I was pleased the CD highlighted his haunting piano theme for Dax’s murderous former host, Joran.  The CD closes with two of my very favorite pieces of music from the entire run of the series, which were both composed by Paul Baillargeon.  First is “Children of Time,” in which a wrinkle in time allows the Defiant crew to encounter a planet populated by their own descendants.  The episode’s climax features a gorgeous, haunting piece of music that plays over the final gathering of the community before the restoration of the timeline that will wipe them all from existence (track 23).  Then, at the end of the disc, comes the melancholy, beautiful piece of music that played over the vicious battle in “The Siege of AR-558” (tracks 24-25), an episode that looked unblinkingly at the real horrors of war.  For the brutal ground assault that climaxed the episode, the show dialed out all of the usual sound effects and explosions in favor of a magnificent piece of music that took an already great sequence and turned it into one of the most powerful moments of the show’s run.  Mr. Baillargeon’s music is phenomenal, and needless to say I have listened to those final two tracks a number of times.

Disc Four: The Lost Album — As if the previous three discs of music weren’t great enough, this final disc contains extensive sections of score from three of the series’ stand-out episodes.  First up is the phenomenal James Bond homage “Our Man Bashir.”  Jay Chattaway’s score is a wonderful homage to John Barry’s classic James Bond scores.  Second is Dennis McCarthy’s music from “Trials and Tribble-ations,” the show’s salute to Star Trek’s 30th anniversary.  In the episode, the Defiant winds up back in time, smack dab in the middle of the classic Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” and, in a visual effects triumph, the DS9 crew was digitally inserted into many of that episode’s classic scenes (including, most notably, the bar-room brawl with the Klingons).  Dennis McCarthy’s score is great, though I do wish it made slightly more use of some of the classic Star Trek themes.  My favorite moment of score from the episode is when we hear Alexander Courage’s Star Trek fanfare when the original U.S.S. Enterprise is first seen on the Defiant’s viewscreen (track 8) — I wish there was a little more of that sort of thing in the score.  Lastly, we get Dennis McCarthy’s score from the DS9 series finale, “What You Leave Behind.”  It’s a great score, with propulsive action music for the huge space-battles (the climax of the Dominion War) and quieter, poetic music for the many emotional moments.  As great as everything else on disc #4 is, the real reason to listen to this CD is the last three tracks, the music from the final minutes of the episode.  Track 22 in particular is a show-stopper — a lengthy piece of music (six and a half minutes long) from the emotional series of goodbyes as many of the characters from the show leave the station, and the series, for the final time.  I have seen this episode many times, but I never realized that Mr. McCarthy scored Sisko’s goodbye to Kassidy Yates with a quotation of music from “The Vistor,” the fourth-season episode in which Jake is forced to learn to live his life without his father.  What a genius choice.  That music is heard at the start of track 22, and then as the goodbyes to the DS9 characters begin, Mr. McCarthy makes another clever reference to Trek music past: “The Minstrel Boy,” such an iconic musical element of the Next Gen third-season episode “The Wounded,” one of the first episodes to spotlight Miles O’Brien, plays briefly when the Chief appears on-screen.  Then, of course, Mr. McCarthy brilliantly weaves the song “The Way You Look Tonight” (sung earlier in the episode by Vic Fontaine) into a bittersweet presentation of his main DS9 theme as one character after another bids farewell.  Track 23 is a much shorter track, but it’s also terrific.  When the music swells over the moment when Odo says goodbye to Kira, it is a gorgeous moment that gives me chills, even just listening to the music.  Track 24 is the final piece of music from the series.  I’ve gotta tell you that I again got chills listening to the mournful cue at 0:23-0:33 from the moment when we see Jake, alone, looking out into space for his missing father.  That’s not only a powerful emotional moment, but it’s also the musical moment that, for me, signals that the end of this series that I so loved is only seconds away.  That cue segues into a mournful sounding of the DS9 theme, as the vast space station slowly recedes from view into a tiny speck in a field of stars.  Every time I have re-watched “What You Leave Behind,” during those final moments I am filled with a painful longing that I don’t want the series to end.  I feel the same thing listening to the score!  I have re-listened to that final track many times.

Bravo to everyone at La-La Land Records for creating this magnificent tribute to the music of the greatest of the Star Trek series, the much-missed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 

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