GNP Crescendo Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/16/2001
It seems that recently I've found myself listening to a lot of music related to science-fiction television shows or movies. (Memo to Beth: yes, I know the reason why this is so... and I am thankful.) While I never was the biggest sci-fi fan in the world (c'mon, I slept through Star Wars when I first saw it... but, hey, I was six years old!), I have admired some of the efforts I've listened to for trying to present the future in the music of today. Other efforts, well, haven't been quite as impressive.
Then, we check out Farscape, a collection of songs from the first two seasons of this show. (Eye-opener time, since I never have seen the show.) On first listen, I had to wonder how they got Peter Gabriel to do some of the music.
Of course, Gabriel is nowhere to be found on this set, but this disc is like having two soundtracks in one. One part almost merges world-beat music with traditional sci-fi; the other half is the more down-to-earth science fiction music fans are used to. Question is, which effort is better?
To my ears, that distinction is won by SubVision - Chris, Tony and Braedy Neal - who manage to wake people up from the traditional stereotype of sci-fi music they might have been used to and dare to throw in tribal beats, vocal chanting (as heard in the "Theme From Farscape") and even a smidgen of Celtic influences. Tracks like "Time Trouble," "Wormholes!," "Fields Of Joy" and "Namtar's Magic" prove one thing beyond a doubt: this musical marriage works, and it works well. (I kidded with the woman working publicity for this disc that this half of the disc sounded like what they were trying to do with Highlander: Endgame.)
So why in the second season were SubVision dropped and Guy Gross brought in to handle the music? I don't want to belittle Gross's contributions to the Farscape series, but the change in musical approach is almost like doing 120 in a Ferrari and slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting a turtle in the road. It's just something you're not ready for, especially when you found yourself getting caught up in the different styles of the music previously.
Needless to say, Gross returns to a more traditional sci-fi backing track - as he describes it, his music is written to work with the character's dialog. Okay, maybe these tracks work in that regard - but on their own, tracks like "Crichton's Daughter," "Peace Keeping" and "Goodbye Caveman" don't work as well. And just when Gross seems like he's getting the hang of things (as on "Crichton's Wedding"), the disc comes to an end.
There's still a lot to Farscape that makes me recommend this disc to people, especially for those who say that all music from this genre sounds the same. Listen to the first half of this disc, and discover that this just isn't the case.