Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marketing The Last Bit Of The Original Franchise: Star Trek Vol. 1 Soundtrack.

The Good: Well composed and well played.
The Bad: Out of context, occasionally simplistic, Track duration is short, as is the album.
The Basics: This recording of music from the first two episodes of Star Trek is a must only for those who have everything else Star Trek and no interest in anything else.

Those who read my reviews know that I am pretty much the Alpha Trekker. I'm a fan of the show, I've been systematically reviewing every Star Trek, Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Star Trek The Next Generation episode. I collect the trading cards and I'm going to a convention this very weekend. And yet, I am recommending against the purchase of Star Trek Vol. 1 - The Cage / Where No Man Has Gone Before Soundtrack.

At some point, the folks at Paramount must have been sitting around saying "There must be some way we can bleed more money out of the Star Trek franchise, I suspect from listening to this disc. It certainly was not because there were tons of bootleg copies of the music of Star Trek out there that GNP Crescendo released the music to the two pilots over twenty years ago.

While the back of the Volume One (The Cage/Where No Man Has Gone Before) Soundtrack tells of one man's (David Gerrold) strange obsession with finding the soundtrack and applauds the fact that it is finally released, this is an esoteric collection to release to the general population. I'm wondering how many times a week he listens to this volume. I'm wondering if Mr. Gerrold alone was the impetus for this album; I've never known anyone else to care that much about this particular soundtrack.

That said, the music is fine. It's nothing stellar, atrocious pun intended. There are a few musical moments that are good, but for the most part, the pieces are awkward tracks removed from their context. That is to say they quite adequately enhance the visual images presented in the two Star Trek pilots, but as self-sustained pieces of music, they do very little. A large part of that is that the average track is right around a minute long. They are dramatic chords intended to bring the viewer into a commercial or to ease them back after one. All of the tracks, save the Star Trek theme have a rather unrefined and incomplete sound to them.

This is an instrumental album with music that is heavy on the zither, with an Indian sound to it. The musical moments are mostly light with airy winds or heavy with deep drums and zithers. The contrasts between the two are awkward and sharp. The effect is often disconcerting. Again, this fits the images of barbarian creatures attacking in "The Cage," but as a musical piece on its own, it does nothing. It's frustrating to say, but none of these tracks is anything of substance without the visual image to accompany it.

The songs evoke little emotion, though I suppose they could be great nostalgia pieces for people who were around in the 60s digging Star Trek and vowing to name their first-born "Bones Tiberius Spock" or something equally trippy. The weakness is in the fact that no single track is allowed to develop; the average track is a minute long and that's hardly enough time to BECOME something musically.

If you're searching for something to get a known Trekker, look elsewhere as this album has limited appeal even to those of us who consider ourselves geeks. Even Star Trek fans can do better. This lacks the enduring anthems of the Vulcan Mating Dance from "Amok Time" or the tense music from "The Doomsday Machine" or the light, airy trills of "Shore Leave." Instead, there are musical clips and it feels sloppy on this disc. If you're looking for music for a Trekker, there are other albums; volumes two and three certainly qualify.

For other soundtracks, please check out my reviews of:
Saturday Night Fever
Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert
What’s Love Got To Do With It?


For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here for an organized listing!

© 2010, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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