Robert J. Kral
In order to coincide with the release of Angel season five on DVD, EMI UK released a soundtrack album for the series (for some reason it is only available in England). It showed up a day early last night, and, while there is no way that one CD could encompass all of the best musical moments in the five years of the series, the record still makes a great listen.
Rather than having a lot of scattered short tracks, Kral wisely created suites from episodes, grouped together by thematic material (for example, one can hear the development of Darla's motif over the course of several tracks). The succession of tracks is pretty sweet, and the epic approach to scoring the television series means that the music certainly never gets dull. In fact, I would put this work up against any Media Ventures feature film score; while the Mutant Enemy scores are primarily electronic (although augmented often by acoustic soloists), they have a grand scale orchestral sound to them and are certainly superior in terms of thematic originality and development. Kral's work is in the same vein as Beck's, Wanker's, Romayne's and Duncan's from Buffy, but is significantly darker as befits the tone of Angel.
My only caveat is that Christophe Beck's Angel theme is only given a chance to boom once in a cue from the first episode. This is the only appearance of Beck's Angel theme, which is unfortunate as it is a great piece, and Beck's final burial of the Buffy/Angel love theme is also not present on this album although this is understandable - this album is meant to showcase Kral's work, not Beck's, who has two promos and selected tracks on the Once More With Feeling CD. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to hear a bit more of the Beck's Angel theme as it is was such a major element of the first season's music, and has been used by Kral throughout the series.
I made a file of the television edit of the Darling Violetta theme to start off the album in my Nomad, and I also included three tracks from the Kral sampler that had music from Miracles and Angel on it that don't appear to be on this album... they may be from Miracles, but they sound like music for Angel. Two other cues ("Forbidden Memory/Darla's Fire" and "Princess Cordelia") appear completely unchanged from the other CD. There are a few musical moments from the series that I would have liked to have heard on disc, not least the first entrance of Holtz in season 3, Angel's fight with in the alternate dimension in season 4 and the aforementioned Buffy/Angel cue, but what is here is too good to gripe about the omissions with. As a collector, this sort of thing is kind of annoying. While only three score suites (on Once More With Feeling) and two tracks (one each on the first Buffy album and one on the European version of the Radio Sunnydale disc) from Christophe Beck's Buffy scores were ever officially released, Beck did issue promos for seasons two and three (none for season four, though, which has some great work in it), meaning that I have quite a lot more Buffy music than I would otherwise have because of the fact that there was no official score release for that series. The fact that there is an official release of the Angel scores is great (although it isn't available in the United States except through certain channels), but it means that now there is less incentive for Kral to issue another promo, perhaps with other music on it (although it is interesting that I do have these extra tracks as well).
The CD also contains Andy Hallett performances of
"Lady Marmalade" and "It's Not Easy Being Green"
I'm pretty happy about this record, and I am super psyched about Angel season five, which is coming home with me tonight!
But will I watch it immediately, or will I finish off the series as I've been re-watching it first? Holtz is currently making his first appearance in the 21st century as I've been following, and that's some of the best Angels there are out there... but I'm curious about this whole Wolfram & Hart thing... and I wanna see Spike again!