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STAR TREK

FIRST CONTACT

by Jerry "Mr. Star Trek" Goldsmith
After making the fatal error of using a TV composer for Star Trek Generations, Rick Berman reluctantly gave Jerry Goldsmith the job of scoring the next film.  For his third outing into the final frontier, the versatile composer formulated one of his most moving and noble themes yet, the First Contact theme.  He also brings back the main theme, the Klingon theme, and the three-note Barrier motif from Star Trek V.  The fact that the film was basically an action movie reflects in the score, with grating, harsh electronics personifying the Borg (they also have a new motif.)  The composer only had a few weeks to write a huge score, so he enlisted the help of his son, newbie composer Joel Goldsmith.  His material is represented by three cues, and while not quite measuring up to Goldsmith Sr.'s precedent, the cues are pretty good.  Joel shows great promise.  This GNP Crescendo release has about 45 minutes of Goldsmith's score, hitting the highlights, but omitting the large 6+ minute climactic track.  Two classic rock songs end the disc.  There are a few digital pops in the sound quality, although I usually don't notice them.

Track by Track Analysis:
1. Main Title/Locutus (4:17)
A subdued rendition of Alexander Courage's original series fanfare with a hint of the Barrier motif begins the score.  Goldsmith's spectacular theme makes its first appearance, first played in a delicate French horn solo, extended by the strings, and finally played in a grand orchestral tutti.  This theme is very reminiscent of his Star Trek Voyager theme, but vastly superior.  The tone abruptly changes with the percussive, savage "Locutus" as Captain Picard has a nightmare.  Various electronic and atonal effects figure prominently into this cue, and it doesn't utilize any thematic material.
2. Red Alert (2:13)
A brief statement of the First Contact theme segues into the first breathless statement of Goldsmith's signature main theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  For the short space battle, the Borg get a menacing trombone motif.  Eventually the Klingon theme makes a welcome appearance for the first time since Trek 5.  The action sequence ends with a fanfare-like statement of the main theme.  The rest of the cue is various tension motifs over a percussion ostinato.
3. Temporal Wake (2:07)
An extension of the previous cue, a repeating percussion figure with various electronic tones gives way to another, more subdued version of the Klingon theme.  Various tension motives comprise most of the rest of the track.
4. Welcome Aboard (2:40)
This houses the first statement of the First Contact theme in the movie (after the opening titles.)  I find this track reminiscent of ST:TMP in some of the sections based on Ilia's theme.  The orchestration here, although still involving French Horn, is slightly different from the opening title (more tender.)  Borg music interrupts, with the trombone motif from track 2 played on chimes.  The rest is tension building music with electronics.
5. Fully Functional (3:18)
A major action section opens this, dissolving into statements of the Borg motif on electronics accompanied by chimes.  Exotic string music accompanied by more electronics comes next.  More Borg motif follows, also introducing what I call the "Assimilated Enterprise" motif, since it figures prominently into "The Dish."  The pace quickens for the rest of the track.
6. Retreat (3:59)
Joel Goldsmith's only action cue on disc opens with tension-building electronics.  A percussion & electronic ostinato plays under a trombone motif.  The ostinato forms a march that quickens over time, erupting into the main action cue.  The tone becomes more and more chaotic and desperate, introducing several unique percussion entities like an anvil, etc.  Near the end, the Klingon and main themes appear for a few seconds.
7. Evacuate (2:19)
The Assimilated Enterprise motif plays under a typical bass ostinato.  This motif is extended into a full theme for the Enterprise crew, and the last minute contains another statement of the First Contact theme.
8. 39.1 Degrees Celsius (4:44)
Joel returns with this unremarkable tension building track.  It opens with a string glissando, followed by an ostinato that most of the cue is based on.  This utilizes no thematic material, and while not exactly bad, it's not very interesting alone without the visuals of the film.  I don't know exactly why, but this reminds me of sections of James Horner's Apollo 13 score.
9. The Dish (7:05)
The highlight of the disc for me, this exciting action set piece melds all the major themes into a single entity.  The Assimilated Enterprise motif opens the track, followed by the Borg motif played on electronics.  These two motifs play off each other for  most of the track, incorporating the Barrier motif.  The tone turns desperate at some points with an action march and various trumpet calls.  He adds various subtle nuances to the Borg motif to keep the music interesting, and there are a few great action sections.  The key changes several times, becoming higher according to the chaos portrayed on screen.  At the end of the cue, the tone lightens up considerably with the Klingon theme followed by a final statement of the tedious Barrier motif.  One of my favorite parts occurs when he ends the track on an unresolved note, symbolizing that the threat is still present.
10. First Contact (5:52)
This is completely based on the First Contact theme, with a few cheerful versions of the Barrier motif.  The FC theme is expanded upon, giving almost a hymn-like reverence, as well as ST:TMP-like string passages that demonstrate the alienness of the visitors.  Easily the best track of the score, although "The Dish" is my favorite.
11. End Credits (5:25)
Goldsmith uses his typical Trek end title formula, this time the First Contact theme sandwiched between two versions of the main theme identical to Star Trek 5.  This is especially apparent in the rough transition to the new theme.

Overall, this is the weakest of the Goldsmith Star Trek scores, although still very good.  He uses the Barrier motif from Trek 5 a few many times, and I don't see enough variety in the action cues.  Still, I guess I'm going to have to recommend this album because, even though it's not Goldsmith's best, I really enjoy it, and plus everyone needs another Trek score, right?  The sound quality is a tad muffled, but it has great liner notes with art from the film and a composer bio.



 
Star Trek 8: The Final Score
Music Rating 7/10
Packaging/Liner Notes 8/10
Orchestral Performance 8/10
Sound Quality 6/10
Length 6/10

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Star Trek: First Contact is Copyright 1996 by GNP Crescendo.  Its appearance here is for educational use.  Review Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon.  As always, Tripod had nothing to do with the creation of these reviews.