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Europa Report by Bear McCreary (Review)

posted Aug 17, 2013, 10:59 AM by Kaya Savas

Bear McCreary is probably the best composer working in television right now. He has composed some amazing work for some fantastic series. His style is instantly recognizable and he is able to build some amazing sonic worlds with his music. However only when you get to hear his work in a film do you really understand what he’s capable of as a storyteller. TV shows span many episodes and many seasons, so the structure of the music is very dependent on the show itself. With Europa Report McCreary delivers a hauntingly beautiful adventure into deep space that chills as much as it awes. After I discovered McCreary’s work via Battlestar Galactica I became a huge fan of his. It’s so very rare for a composer to have such a strong voice and handle on the material that he or she touches. McCreary is evident of this and I think Europa Report is one of his best scores.

The theme for Europa Report is instantly recognizable to McCreary fans as it’s an echo of his theme for the video game score to Dark Void. I’m not pointing fingers at self-plagiarizing as I absolutely love to hear connections from a composer’s previous work. I just find it magnificent how this theme builds a sense of wonder and hope. You start off this adventure with all the expectations the characters have in the film. Then as more electronics blend with the strings we get a sense of seriousness as we are placed in the heart of the narrative. The music has an organic pulse throughout that gives it a sense of being alive. The theme is used beautifully and often, and I love thematically focused scores. The almost ethereal yet haunting vocals in the track “Water” were a brilliant human touch that placed life in the spotlight, and it was very appropriate to use vocals then and there. The score takes a plunge into almost thriller territory but done in such a way that it keeps the awe initially found in the first act of the score. So, while tension and suspense is being built you still have a bit of that majestic awe in there. We finish the journey with that majestic awe that ends up bringing a calm over you. That yearn for answers we hear in the music at the beginning feels a bit more fulfilled in the final moments, and really completes the journey.

Europa Report is a tightly focused score with simple elements that are executed superbly. Bear McCreary crafts a wonderful journey into the depths of the unknown that reflects the characters’ motivations and experience. His beautiful theme inspires and haunts in equal parts, and makes the experience an incredibly unique one. Long tracks give you a real sense of how well the score builds and is structured. Europa Report is a score everyone should experience.