REVIEW – Star Trek: Enterprise Collection, Volume 2

La-La Land Records recently released a second volume of music from Star Trek: Enterprise. The four-CD collection features previously unreleased material from 31 episodes and music from composers Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway and more.

Music has been an essential element to the Star Trek franchise during its 50-year history. The melodies, harmonies and orchestrations are as much a part of the final frontier as the characters, ships and ideas. While several companies have published Star Trek soundtracks over the decades, La-La Land has become a leader in unearthing original music from the television series and feature films. Beginning with its expanded release of Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 2010, La-La Land Records has churned out 9 multi-disc collections, including two in 2016.

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Star Trek: Enterprise Collection, Volume 2 was released in the fall and presents eager listeners with previously-unreleased music from 31 episodes, including tracks from “Observer Effect,” “The Aenar,” “Carbon Creek,” “The Forge,” “Acquisition,” and “The Forgotten.” As with its other Star Trek releases, La-La Land breaks up the collection by having each disc represent a different composer or composers.

The two men most responsible for the production of the release are producer Ford Thaxton and art designer Mark Banning. The duo, joined by liner notes author Jeff Bond, have a long partnership in presenting the music of Star Trek to fans. Their love for the franchise is evident in the care and dedication they put into these types of projects.

I’m a little different from people in this field,” Thaxton explained. “I know all these composers and my first prerequisite is to make them look good. I go through the scores and try to find the more interesting cues divorced from the visuals. I take into account what people tend to remember, as well as what might surprise them. I can point to every composer who has worked on the show and has done some wonderful things. Jay Chattaway can do an action cue like no one’s business, Dennis McCarthy just has that wonderful orchestral knack, and David Bell has a marvelous sense of rhythm.

 

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DISC ONE – DENNIS McCARTHY

Thaxton added to his impressive picks from the volume one Enterprise release to capture more essential McCarthy music, including “Breaking the Ice,” “Sleeping Dogs” and “Future Tense.” Listeners should instantly recognize his work, which also hearkens back to his DS9 compositions.

Highlights from McCarthy’s 25 cues covering 11 episodes on disc one include the ethereal “Responsibility” from “Cogenitor” and the haunting “Empty Ship” from “Doctor’s Orders.” “Phlox to the Rescue” from the “Doctor’s Orders” sounds eerily similar to the trailer music for the 2009 J.J. Abrams film (“Freedom Fighters” by Two Steps From Hell). Kevin Kiner is listed a co-composer on four of the episodes, including “Doctor’s Orders” and “Observer Effect.” “More Than Observe/Rules Need to Change” from the latter episode will bring a smile to listener’s face as McCarthy and Kiner include ENT’s theme in this piece of music.

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DISC TWO – JAY CHATTAWAY

Beginning with two cues from “Fight or Flight,” which includes the 10-minute track “Aliens Return….” disc two includes seven episodes with 22 cues, including standout music from “Carbon Creek,” which is a treat with its homey feel and is off the beaten path of the normal space-faring adventure tracks he writes for ENT. Thaxton also selected the touching “Father Son Talk 2/Reunion” from “E2,” a soft piece of music when the crew meets their future descendants. Listeners will also find the typical Chattaway cues from episodes like “Divergence,” which will evoke his TNG work.

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DISC THREE – THE VETERANS

Featuring returning Star Trek composers David Bell and Paul Baillargeon, disc three highlights contain Bell’s tender “First Dance I Went To” from “Fusion” and the latter’s “Wisps Take Trip” from “The Crossing.” Baillargeon’s cue from this episode should be recognizable to listeners with its recurring somber music for the series. All told, disc three includes seven episodes of music, covering 23 pieces of music (“Fusion” and “Dawn” are Bell’s only contribution).

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DISC FOUR – THE NEW RECRUITS

Three composers are featured on disc four, as Thaxton has included music from Brian Tyler, John Frizzell and Velton Ray Bunch. Twenty-six tracks from six episodes are presented on the disc with Tyler and Frizzell represented by one show each and Bunch on the remainder. Music of note includes Tyler’s work on the episode “Canamar,” which at times is presented more like a movie soundtrack than a TV show. Meanwhile, Bunch adds a new dimension to the Ferengi with his whimsical and adventurous take on the episode “Acquisition.”

“I try to go through the material and get it to the point when I think it has something interesting, with a beginning, middle and end.” Thaxton explained about how he selected music for the release. “Basically there’s a process. You have to think about it. You are doing albums for people to listen to. I want to give them material from the show that is interesting. One of the moments I really enjoyed from the release is the cue that had the teaser, ‘Previously on Enterprise’ (Baillargeon’s “Recap” from the episodes “Hatchery” and “The Forgotten”). It has this incredible rhythmic theme to it. I thought to myself, I’m not losing that, it had to stay. It is a lot of fun putting it all together.”

Thaxton also includes little gems like the “Archer’s Theme” and “Where My Heart Will Take Me” bumpers (short thematic music used to transition from the episode to commercials) and “Archer’s Theme – End Credits”, which is used on the show during the end credits, to close out the collection. While the producer’s task seems daunting, the art director faces his own challenges. Banning’s job is to not only design the graphics on the disc, covers and liner notes, but to seek out the best art in which to draw a listener’s eye. Sadly, it has become more difficult to capture those less-seen moments from the show with the availability of so many images on the internet.

 “Our basic overall theme for these collector’s boxes has been the main ship for the show,” Banning said. “For this one, I found a nice picture of the NX-01 in dry dock, which was a unique one that we have not seen too much.”

“I hope everyone who gets it enjoys it.” Thaxton finished, “And waits two minutes before saying we left out their favorite cue. Everyone who worked on this gave 100 percent. It’s a lot of fun to do these things. When someone in Dubuque, Iowa plays and enjoys it as just music – that gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

One thing is certain; the collection will leave its listeners wanting to check out episodes of ENT once again, concentrating on the cues included in the collection. Star Trek: Enterprise Collection, Volume 2 is a must for any fan of the music from the series.

To order Star Trek: Enterprise Collection, Volume 2, go to La-La Land’s website.

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