As we’ve come to expect from every La-La Land Records release, their latest massive Star Trek music compilation is not just an amazing collection of Star Trek music for fans, but a catalog of its history. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection — Volume 2 features an impressive array of music from episodes throughout the series’ seven-year run and is a perfect companion (and an even deeper dive) to the original Volume One release.
The four-disc collection includes a comprehensive 40-page booklet with interviews from each of the sets composers that not only breaks down how they approached their work in the Star Trek universe, but also provides specific track-by-track references so you can easily identify where the music from each selection was heard and in what context.
Overall the well-packaged collection features 105 tracks, with music ranging from the normal moody scene sets lying underneath character-building dialogue to big brassy space battles that punch up the action. As they usually do, the La-La Land curators have also included several rarities and alternate tracks that work with varying degrees of success.
The bulk of the music in this release comes from Dennis McCarthy (the man responsible for the superb DS9 score that can be heard supporting the original music of dozens of tracks included here) and Jay Chattaway, who were the series’ dominant composers. Also featured in the release are David Bell, Paul Baillargeon and Gregory Smith, who all make strong contributions.
Obviously, for a release like this, fans are coming for the music, but reading the comprehensive linear notes is a thoroughly enjoyable education in scoring Star Trek on television.
“In order to cut through all the sound effects that Star Trek used all the time, you had to have a lot of brass energy, so we had a huge brass section,” said Chattaway, refencing the 50-piece live orchestra so notably used (at no small expense) throughout the 1990s on televised Trek.
“(French horns) were very much the voice of space in the Star Trek universe,” said Smith, whose standout inclusion in this set is his “Honor Among Thieves” suite. “Those horns blend with strings and other things and can play quietly as well as being big and splashy when you’re in that external space shot and they join in with trumpets and trombones.”
In the booklet, all five composers eloquently described the challenges of scoring for Star Trek, which usually required staying underneath the dialogue and characters, and then quickly adding emotional heft to the brief special effects shots in space.
“I think if I was ever going to write a book about scoring, I would call it Six Seconds in Space, because those are the only times we got a chance to let the music really soar,” noted Chattaway. “Since many of the Star Trek shows were character driven, there was a lot of dialogue; when we got to the end of the dialogue scene they’d cut out to space and then we’re either scoring a ship battle or a fly-by or something active and that’s where we could really exploit the orchestra.”
Added Bell, “In general, I found that doing less is more. When there were moments of deep emotion I would try and stay out of the actor’s way and not spoon-feed the viewer what I thought they should be feeling.”
Disc One of the set includes music exclusively from Dennis McCarthy, while Disc Two is all Jay Chattaway. The complimentary contrast between the two iconic Trek musicians is notable to any serious fan of Star Trek composers.
McCarthy scored 256 episodes of Star Trek in his career, as well Star Trek: Generations, and his work here is distinctively his, especially in the back-to-back suites from “For the Uniform” and “Blaze of Glory,” where five unique tracks highlight the conclusion of the Eddington Arc. His work is expertly showcased in the sweeping “No Javert, Me” and then the action-packed “The Mighty Bong,” in consecutive tracks.
Chattaway’s contributions include the comprehensive seven-track suite from the renowned season-six episode “Tears of the Prophets,” in which the action of full-out space battles is countered by the heart and emotion of Jadzia’s death. “Let the Battles Begin” from this suite is one of the best and most powerful anthems in the collection and is Chattaway to the core (with big thumping brass that is reminiscent of his work on Voyager).
“If you try to step out too much – if it becomes too much about you and your music – that’s not really what the job entails. It’s about being supportive to what’s on the screen,” said Chattaway about his work on DS9.
Disc Three features work from David Bell, Paul Baillargeon and Gregory Smith, with the standout suite coming in the form of Bell’s three tracks from the massively underrated episode, “Treachery, Faith and the Great River.” Listen to this suite and you will be transported to the cockpit of a runabout navigating an icy asteroid field.
Disc Four of the collection is a mixed bag of selections labeled as “The Dark Side, Holo-Fantasies & Odds and Ends.” Without question, the highlight of this final disc is the inclusion of nine tracks from Chattaway’s work on “Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang,” which is laced with a fun, casino-era vibe from the 1960s. (The odds and ends from this selection, however, featuring a handful of extra alternate takes from the episode are basically just filler.)
With vast array of music covering every nook and cranny of seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this latest soundtrack compilation from La-La Land Records is an unequivocal success.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection — Volume 2 soundtrack is available now at the La-La Land online store for $59.98.