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Soundtrack review: Star Trek: Discovery (Jeff Russo – 2017)

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Soundtrack review: Star Trek: Discovery (Jeff Russo – 2017)

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“Star Trek: Discovery” is an American television series created for CBS All Access by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman. It is the first series developed specifically for that service, and the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005. Set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series and separate from the timeline of the concurrently produced feature films, Discovery explores the Federation–Klingon war while following the crew of the USS Discovery. Jeff Russo wrote the score.

The two Jeffs of TV music, Russo and Beal have had phenomenal years with 6,7 releases each and it’s only fitting that the last one is for one of the more high profile shows, the new iteration of Star Trek. For over 50 years “Star Trek” has produced fascinating TV and movie scores and it’s always nice to have a new addition to the musical universe; now the freshest in my mind and, probably, my favourites are Michael Giacchino’s scores for the new trilogy of movies. I have watched a few episodes of the new show and Jeff Russo’s music stood out, at times even more than the script.

Naturally the main titles are what got to me first; even if the joyful alert pace doesn’t fit the classical Star Trek sound Jeff Russo does a beautiful thing by turning it into something inspirational and also infusing it with a hint of the original Star Trek theme; the main titles cue really is brilliantly done and catchy and heroic enough to warn its place in the ST lore. The craft of a great TV music composer like Jeff Russo is obvious right from the start because he doesn’t try to get too tangled in the legend and legacy of this show and just writes the right score for this particular iteration, more action oriented, more fast paced. I hear heroism and the sense of adventure and excitement in every piece of music from this album.

The centrepiece of the score for me is the 8 minutes long “I’ll go” which is a beautiful and emotional suite, a full story in itself and a cue that shows a composer in full control of his talent and in the zone: there’s mystery, there’s action, there are reflective ambient moments and etherial seconds all rolled into a cue that Jeff Russo should be proud of. Just as when I watch a show I start discovering my favourite characters so here I am choosing my favourite motifs and the second half of “The days is saved” is my inspirational touchstone with the simple flute insert and the quiet heroic sound. But then comes another heroic moment, the buildup in “The torchbearer” and I feel like changing my favourite again.

How about a retro electronic piece to bring arcade game nostalgia? “Persistence” has got you covered” and is yet another gem inside this score; it’s a spinoff of the main titles theme and I love it. I could mention something to like about almost each cue and this is just the mark of a very good score. “Star Trek: Discovery” sounds like a score that was written with joy and passion and with a fresh modern sound to match the look and feel of the new show. The space adventure sound is there, the mystery of discovery is there and emotion is present as well to make for a very rewarding and enjoyable standalone experience. There’s also that melodic vibe that makes the start of a new adventure which for me is the trademark of a Star Trek score; just listen to “Stella”, another cue where the original theme is evoked. I am sure you will find plenty of things to love in Jeff Russo’s composition.

Cue rating: 91  / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 29 / 53

Album excellence: 55%

Highlights:
Main Title (Aired Version)
We Come In Peace
I’ll Go
The Day is Saved
Torchbearer
Persistence
I Can’t Dance
Captain Mudd
Stella
Watch the Stars Fall
What’s Happening?
Main Title (Extended)

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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