Music Composed, Arranged and Produced by Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon
Album Produced by Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon and Ford A. Thaxton
Engineered and Mixed by Michael Banton-Jones at McClear Digital and DAVE Audio (Toronto, Ontario)
Assistant: Sheila Walker
Additional Mixing by Scott Boyling
Fairlight Editing by Vic Pyle
Administration: Camille Anderson
Additional Editing and Album Mastering by James Nelson at Digital Outland (Tacoma, Washington)
Digital Transfers by John Beal
Keyboards: Ray Parker, Donald Quan, Tom Szczesniak, Lou Pomanti
Programming: Micky Erbe, Ray Parker, Donald Quan
Solo Vocalist: Leah Erbe
Erhu: George Gao
Violin: Lenny Solomon
Flutes: Ron Korb, Ernie Tollar
EWI, Saxophone: John Johnson
Oboe: Cynthia Staljes
Trumpet: Robert Venables
Album Design by Wolfgang Fenchel
Project Coordinator: Christopher Landry
Music Published by Propinquity I Publishing (SOCAN) and Mickymar Music (SOCAN)
"AN IMPRESSIVE PIECE OF WORK"
After three successful years on television, the music for this cult sci-fi show finally receives album treatment.
The team of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon have lended their talents to the show from the start, and continue
to compose diverse sounds for current episodes. The album from Sonic Images is a compilation of pieces from
numerous episodes as well as the opening and closing titles. At almost an hour long, the album provides a
relaxing, uninterrupted feel for the show and its plethora of styles.
While the compilation effect works for the album, it is also detrimental in occasional choppiness. Because of the
MIDI style of composition that Erbe and Solomon use while writing for the show, several bits and pieces of music
(some very short) needed to be edited together to provide a good flow for the album. In some cases, the edits
are barely noticable, while at other moments, a very good sequence of music can come to an abrupt ending and
suddenly take a completely different course. The very best track on the album is the second. It features the
sum of the soloists who perform regularly for the show, with a distinctly Irish style for that particular episode.
Unfortunately, the edits can sometimes leave the hauntingly ethnic cues shorter than desired.
Aside from its construction, the album remains an impressive piece of work considering the budgetary restrictions
of such a show. The longer suites on the album, including the fourth and nineteenth tracks, contain the most
melodic and enjoyable music. Unlike the scores for many other sci-fi shows, EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT features
less of the militaristic percussion and banging. In these regards, it's easier to enjoy than, for instance, "Seven
Days" and "Babylon 5." In its favor, the EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT scores include unique solo performances both
in female vocals and the Chinese string instrument erhu. Along with the occasional woodwinds, the orchestral
elements (though few) add great depth to the music. In particular, I would have loved to hear more of the two
soloist performances mentioned above.
On the side, with a slightly different mixing sound than the rest of the album, are the opening and closing titles.
The erhu and vocals mix with a hip beat, at a pace that the rest of the score lacks. A longer rendition of this
theme (perhaps even just for the album's sake) would have been greatly welcomed. Although the main theme is
quoted a few times in the episodic scores, it never is allowed to fully develop, and this is a shame. In the end,
however, the music for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is still more enjoyable than many others in its genre, and this
CD will be a delight to its fans. Only available through the label and specialty outlets in its first three months of
release, the regular stores will begin offering it by June, 2000.
February 21, 2000
"TRULY UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL"
I was extremely excited when I saw this in my mailbox. Almost since I began this site, my "Destiny In Space"
album (a compilation of three space-related IMAX films) has been a favorite when I was in the mood for relaxing,
synthy space music. I'd always wondered what else the two composers who worked on it had done, and I didn't
know until this showed up. This is one of those CDs that's extremely' difficult to describe, but I really like it.
The best description I can come up with is spaced-out new age\world music. According to the liner notes, the
show hops all around the planet, so that one episode might be in a rural villiage in Europe while the next goes to
Tokyo. The music, therefore, is extremely ecclectic. It has a truly unique basic "sound" which, features (among
other things) airy, spacey synths, pan flutes, a cool 2-stringed Chinese instrument, and some absolutely haunting
wordless female vocals, along with more standard orchestral instruments as needed. Then, on top of that, they
add more ethno-specific sounds depending on the location (track 2, for example, sounds very Celtic).
This is definately not an exciting album. It's funny, really, this being a score for a sci-fi show and coming from
Sonic Images, but it sounds almost nothing like "Babylon 5." This just strikes me due to the similarities between
them (besides the subject matter, the odd mix of synths, orchestra, and ethnic instruments) but the end result is
Almost all the pieces are very smooth and New Age-y, but never fall into the ambient trap that ensnares so much
New Age music. The truly unique and mostly beautiful instrumentation keeps it interesting throughout its hour-
long running length.
Another highlight of the album are the frequent solos. I mentioned the vocals, by Leah Erbe, and they are
absolutely wonderful. Not only is her voice beautiful and striking, but most of them sound as though they have no
ground in any one musical style. They flow between sounding Native American, Celtic, Asian and other lndian,
and switching so seemlessly that it really sounds like TRUE world music. Other tracks feature solo wind pieces,
the Chinese string instrument, piano, and other instruments.
The only drawback to the CD is that it's a bit choppy at times. You can tell the music was written for MIDI, and
sometimes the pieces just stop abruptly due to some transition in the show. There are a couple tracks where
some beautiful melodies are cut short because of this. However, most of the transitions are quite smooth, so I
can't complain too much. I'm not sure what else to say about this one. It's absolutely unique, and I'm glad I got
it. It's worth mentioning that, until June of 2000, the CD will only be available through Sonic Image's website.
Only after about three months will it be released to stores. If you've never gotten anything from Sonic Images
before, this would be a great place to start.
Scoreland Soundtrack Reviews
February 25, 2000
"MUSIC THAT MANAGES TO IMPRESS AND STAND ON ITS OWN"
A pleasant surprise, the music for the sci-fi series EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT includes some really good musical
highlights. Despite the small budget, composers Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon have written music that
manages to impress and stand on its own, without relying on the stereotypical science fiction music.
The music can be described as rather New Age inspired. It is very atmospheric - something achieved with the
generous use of synths - and often very relaxing, with its soft electronical samples, and sometimes with a distinct
Irish flavor, especially in the excellent "The Secret of Strandhill/Redemption", which uses typical Celtic
instruments, such as the tin whistle, fiddle and pipes, as well as solo voice. As a big fan of Irish music, this six
minute cue is, in my opinion, the highlight of the entire soundtrack.
The sound of the female voice, belonging to Leah Erbe, is used rather frequently and it lends the music a
sometimes eerie and mystical sound. Other solo performances include the violin, flute, oboe, trumpet and
something called Erhu, which apperantly is a string instrument from China. There's also something called EWI,
which is the abbreviation for Electronic Wind Instrument. It is always interesting when composers try new ideas
in their music, even when the means have limits. The music for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is certainly an excellent
example of good, inventive, music made with a small budget.
The release, by Sonic Images is currently only available for purchase through the record label and will not be sold
in regular record stores until June.
Score! Soundtrack Reviews
February 28, 2000
"A REAL PLEASURE TO HEAR SUCH A FULL SOUNDTRACK... RECOMMENDED"
If you enjoy New Age spaciness, then this soundtrack should really appeal to you. I don't mean that to be
derogatory because this is a very good example of television scoring.
The idea for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT originated from the fertile mind of the late Gene Roddenberry, founding
guru of the granddaddy of television sci-fi epics, "Star Trek." According to his widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry,
EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT was not an easy series to score. In the CD foldout, she explains that "the scope of the
series is such that one episode might take place in an industialized American city, while the following week's
adventure concentrates on a rural European village." She then compliments Mickey Erbe and Maribeth Solomon,
saying they "have captured the essence of this global drama, and have created a sound that is as alternatively
exciting and intriguing as the concept itself." The key work is "sound." That's what comes through strongest on
this soundtrack. A very moody and spacious "sound." This is created quite effectively by the fine group of
musicians, beginning the lovely humming vocals of Leah Erbe (wife of the composer?). Other outstanding
musicians are: George Gao, who is a master on the erhu - a two-stringed Chinese instrument; John Johnson, who
plays an "EWI" (electonic wind instrument); violinist Lenny Solomon; and synthesists Donald Quan, Ray Parker,
Tom Szczesniak, and Lou Pomanti. The music is a combination of orchestral and electronic instruments. And
these instruments are very well mixed on the soundtrack, providing an almost seemless journey into different
realms as in the television series.
Just to mention a few tracks I thought were standouts. The short "Main Title" is a good one, with all forces being
introduced. The second track ("The Secret of Standhill") uses Irish pipes, tin whistle, and fiddle in a sort of
homage to Celtic music (shades of Enya perhaps). Following that is "Old Flame," where the alien Taelon music is
heard for an episode where a Earthling learns to play an alien instrument known as the "tubes." A particularly
pleasing theme is heard on "Float Like a Butterfly" (track 6) which unfortunately is all too short at less than a
minute. But there are also longer tracks to sustain the mood. One I especially enjoyed is "Moonscape" - the best
track of all, I believe. It begins with a slow, moving organ and choral sync theme and then expands into a more
rapid combination with repeated strings and the solo voice of Leah Erbe as well. Quite an impressive "sound" -
yeah, there's that word again!
Both Erbe and Solomon have worked in television for almost twenty years, including such made-for-TV scores as
"To Save the Children," "Peacekeepers," and "The New Twilight Zone." They have also scored several IMAX
movies, including "Blue Planet" and "The Dream is Alive." With so little television music being used these days,
it's a real pleasure to hear such a full soundtrack, like the one for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT.
This a very good soundtrack for fans of the series or for those who enjoy diverse soundscapes. Recommended
especially for the adventurous sci-fi fan.
Film Music Review
March 2, 2000
"SURELY THE MOST SURPRISING SCIENCE FICTION SCORE IN A VERY LONG TIME"
What do you expect from a score with the title EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT? Come on, admit it: booming brass,
space chords à la Holst's "The Planets," thundering percussion, Wagner-isms all the way. Now, Micky Erbe's and
Maribeth Solomon's score for the Gene Roddenberry TV series is surely the most surprising science fiction score
to come across my ears in a very long time: what we get here is a beautiful score for electronics and solo
instruments, only occasionally with a larger orchestral ensemble.
Parts of this score are Paddy Moloney in space: several of the cues features prominent tin whistle performances
which, from a cultural perspective, seems to fall a little out of place in a sci-fi TV series. But it works from a purely
musical standpoint (that's all I can comment on since I haven't had the chance to watch the series). And the rest
of the orchestrations, featuring the Chinese string instrument erhu and a lot of solo voice (Leah Erbe's beautiful
voice), creates a unique musical universe.
What I miss in this score is a more thematic approach. I feel that, although there are several themes included,
Erbe and Solomon could have utilised them more for the regular underscore. Or perhaps they do, but if that is the
case the themes aren't strong and unique enough. In my opinion, several of the 25 pieces on the album fail to
stand alone as interesting musical compositions. It's beautiful music, but more ambient and atmospheric than
emotionally strong. There is also very little up-beat music, very little action. It's a matter of taste, and I'm sure
his score will be loved by many, but not but me as much as I appreciate the original approach.
Music from the Movies/MovieScore On-Line
March 6, 2000
"VARIED AND RELAXING TV SCORE IS BETTER THAN MOST"
The trouble with television music is that there is so little time to write it, the composers have little or no chance of
being particularly creative. Usually with just one week, often shorter, to write and record the entire score, how
can they possibly have the opportunity of pushing any boundaries? Back in the 60s, composers like John
Williams and especially Jerry Goldsmith did exactly this, and used television as a stepping stone into film music.
These days, that will simply never happen: they're different art forms. The greatest TV music composer these
days is undoubtedly Mike Post, but his music is designed specifically with episodic television in mind, and one
doubts how good he would be with full-length motion pictures.
Very occasionally, there is a show like the modern incarnations of "Star Trek" where the composers are given the
budgets to use reasonably-sized orchestras, but frustratingly the producers of the shows don't allow the talented
musical forces any freedom to actually write anything interesting. More usually, the music budget is tiny, and
synthesisers are the driving force behind everything. This is the case with EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT, whose
music is composed by Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon.
Curiously, a lot of the music sounds vaguely Irish in construction (yes, there are Uillean pipes, or at least
synthesised equivalents) which seems odd given the nature of the programme; I've never seen it, so perhaps I'm
wrong, but I wouldn't have thought the emerald isle would have figured heavily. Mind you, it didn't figure heavily in
"Titanic" either, but that didn't stop James Horner... Easily the best cue is "The Secret of Strandhill", which is also
the longest (this is no coincidence).
Again, by the very nature of the beast, a lot of the cues are very short, and therefore leave no time for any real
musical development or even proper melodies; the synthesised whitewash that plagues many of the cues is
enough to send a shiver down my spine, at least. Fortunately, though, the composers never resort to the
banalities of synthesised percussion that seems to dog so many scores of this type. Undoubtedly, this music is
of a much higher quality than most of the equivalents, but nevertheless it is still a very long way behind most
music from full-length motion pictures. Fans of the show, and this sort of TV music in general, will find much to
enjoy here, but it might be stretching it a bit for everyone else. Rating **
March 13, 2000
"ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUNDTRACKS RELEASED"
I have received one of the most astounding and fascinating releases of Sonic Images Records. The music from
EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is so nice that I can say this is one of the most beautiful soundtracks that no other
label released until today. I encourage you , if possible, to continue keep releasing additonal music from the
series, as I believe this project is fantastic. A future Volume 2, just like "Babylon 5." I listened to EARTH: FINAL
CONFLICT four times one after another. This is really amazing!
New Age Voices (Syndicated Radio)
March 13, 2000
"THIS IS ONE YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CHECK OUT"
Unlike most sci-fi television shows nowadays, the music for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is not done completely in
synth. While there are electronic elements present, there is usage of standard orchestral arrangements. Since
the show deals with different cultures, several different styles permeate the music. While it basically serves as
glorified atmospheric stuff, the interesting use of soloists and choirs (along with the ever changing styles)
actually make for an interesting listen.
I haven't seen any episodes of this show due to the fact that I've basically sworn off all modern sci-fi shows (with
the exception of The X-Files). That being the case I don't really know how the format works in this show, other
than the fact that it jumps around between different locales. Generally, the style of the music is Asian, and it
contains some similarities with George Fenton's Anna and the King, particularly in the use of some ethnic
instrumentation. The main theme is interesting, especially due to the use of the female soloist, but it is really
short and, surprisingly, there is no "expanded" playing of the theme that has become a staple of most
television soundtrack CDs. The theme is referenced here and there throughout the run of the disc, but it's never
developed any more fully than it already is, which is a real shame.
This is a better-than average soundtrack for a sci-fi television show, but it still doesn't top the music that came
out of the Star Trek franchise. If you're a big fan of this show, then there are much worse ways to spend your
cash. For the interested consumer, I would recommend checking out some sound clips of different tracks first.
Overall, if you like music that flows between different cultural styles while retaining a sci-fi flavor, then this is one
you should definitely check out. ***
Soundtrack Review Central
March 20, 2000
A RELAXING COMPILATION"
Synthesized television scores are often a necessary evil. Most of the time they serve their purpose in the
context of the program they're produced for and aside from that they don't do much else. It's difficult to compile
an entire album with interesting television music - let alone performed on synths, but EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT
comes close to it's target. It's never entirely successful in sustaining an entertaining mood, but it definitely has
The real highlight of the album is the first two cues and the last. Two of which are performances of the main
theme - synth beats and samples with a triumphant brass fanfare. The album is mostly a relaxing compilation of
cues from various episodes. After the fine main titles, "The Secret of Strandhill / Redemption" combines the flavor
of Eastern/Oriental erhu (used to great effect in George Fenton's "Anna And The King") with pennywhistle and
female voices similiar to Horner's "Titanic" (leave it alone already!) "Old Flame", and "Defector" carry on the
synthy carpet feel. I personally think that synth music works best when it doesn't attempt to sound like real
acoustic instrumentation - instead it admits it's limitations and instead works as effective sound design. While
EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT contains a great deal of musicality, it is in essence just that: effective sound design.
The album lags a bit when it hits half way - tracks like "Sandoval's Run" with synth key plodding and acoustic
guitars is really mild, new age music. Track 8, "Bliss" is a bit more interesting with the addition of solo violin and
synth woodwinds, but as listening material wears a bit thin. The erhu returns in "Atavus" (more "Titanic"
references here too), and "Moonscape" manages to muster some mood despite it's synth compromise.
Sonic Images usually has above average art design and EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is no different. The insert
artwork shows an effort on SI's part, while sound quality is excellent. Compared to other sci-fi efforts, Erbe and
Solomon's music offers more theatrics than say Mark Snow's monotonous "X-Files" episodic scores and more
variation than Scott Gilman's "7 Days" piledriving synths. This album really is for fans of the show and for those
who haven't seen any episodes (like myself), unfortunately it won't completely hold their interest. Put this CD
in your player when you need music without distractions and EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT will perform at it's best.
March 17, 2000
"A HEADY BLEND OF ELECTRONIC SCORING AND ORCHESTRAL PASSAGES"
Two more recent TV series have spawned new discs from Sonic Images, which are available from specialist
retailers and the company's website. The first is from the short-lived "Babylon 5" spin-off "Crusade," which
features Evan Chen's controversial electronic music. Not for the fainthearted, Chen's music is a peculiar blend of
the oriental and occidental: J. Michael Straczynski wanted a "different sound for the new series," and Chen
Sonic Images has also released a bountiful disc of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon's music from EARTH: FINAL
CONFLICT, which contains a number of appealing, mainly ambient tracks created to enhance the series' wide-
reaching storylines. The disc contains a heady blend of electronic scoring and orchestral passages, frequently
enhanced by contributions from angelic solo vocalist Leah Erbe.
"AN EMOTIONAL SOUNDTRACK... PLEASING AND ENJOYABLE"
Unlike many science fiction TV series, Gene Roddenberry's EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT doesn't focus solely on
dramatic journeys through time or space. Instead, much of the action takes place here on Earth, with the show
centering upon the Taelons--an advanced alien race with dubious intentions--and their impact on human society.
The program's emotional soundtrack reflects that largely terrestrial perspective, injecting electronic and
orchestral arrangements into works that intermingle various musical styles and techniques.
Composed, arranged and produced by Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon, the 25 cuts on this CD offer a union of
classic and contemporary themes. The brief "Main Title" launches the disc with a lovely yet slightly foreboding
melody that combines a soft chant, hushed synthesizers and a Chinese stringed instrument called an erhu. That
same wordless voice also appears in other tunes, including the ethereal "Defector," which showcases a sequence
of shimmering artificial tones, and the mysterious "Atavus." "Moonscape" incorporates deep percussive sounds
to emphasize an immense but desolate vista, with "The Gauntlet" utilizing similar though somewhat more somber
beats to convey a rather mournful air.
Quiet keyboards generate an enchanting atmosphere on "Lilli," while plucked notes and a sorrowful violin give
"Payback" a flustered, melancholy feel. The album concludes with "Volunteers/End Credits," an angelic
composition which integrates many of the motifs and instrumental elements heard earlier on the collection. A
foldout booklet supplements the disc and contains a brief introduction from EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT executive
producer and star Majel Barrett Roddenberry, along with a succinct but informative overview of the music.
Although EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT has a regular cast of characters, Roddenberry notes in her commentary that
"the scope of the series is such that one episode might take place in an industrialized American city, while the
following week's adventure concentrates on a rural European village." The show's scale is therefore global,
requiring the accompanying melodies to reflect various foreign cultures. It's a colossal challenge, but one which,
for the most part, Erbe and Solomon successfully meet.
"The Secret of Strandhill/Redemption" is a exquisite example of that world music fusion. Celtic sounds permeate
the work--taken from a story line that unfolds in Ireland--with pipes, a whistle and a country fiddle complementing
strange, synthesized intonations and ghostly vocals similar to those first heard on the "Main Title." An equally
enchanting effect is achieved on "Float Like a Butterfly," a concise cue that echoes the rural simplicity of an
Amish community. However, not every number is steeped in ethnic orchestration. "Sleepers" is a mellow, almost
new-age track that incorporates soft waves of synthesized sound, and "Truth" presents rich electronic keyboard
components that, through their leisurely presentation, are quite soothing.
A number of notable motifs are introduced on the album, but, possibly due to the musical demands necessitated
by the constant changes in the episodes' locations, in most cases these themes aren't significantly developed
beyond their initial incarnations. Additionally, a few selections, such as the rambling "Second Chances," seem
rather slipshod. Nevertheless, on the whole, the soundtrack to EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is pleasing and
Erbe and Solomon's most notable work has been for IMAX productions that chronicle the exploration of space.
Perhaps their experience scoring scenes concerning humanity's trips to the heavens provided insight for their
accompaniment of the Taelon's adventures on our planet. Our Rating: B+.
Sound Spaces/Sci-Fi Monthly
GENE RODDENBERRY'S EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT (to give the show its full title) is an American TV series
apparently based on an idea left behind by the titular producer (and Mr. "Star Trek" himself) after his demise.
Though given that the idea 'enigmatic aliens come to earth' is one of the stock premises of the science fiction,
quite how much credit the demised Mr. R. deserves for the posthumous show is debatable. Certainly the reviews
I have read - the show has yet to debut on national television, as yet only being available on Channel 5 - suggest
that the show owns rather more to the complexity and sophistication of "Babylon 5" than the 'planet-of-the-week'
adventures of "Star Trek."
This of course suggests an on-going thematic unity. This is certainly evident from the CD, for although the notes
make much of the diverse global locations (and appropriate ethnic instrumentation) of different episodes -
suggesting a rather fragmented soundtrack album might result - the disc actually flows with considerable
coherence. This is true even though there is music from 24 different episodes, plus the main and end title music,
included on the album. The titles given are the titles of the episodes themselves, with no notes or indication as to
which scenes in those episodes might be being depicted.
The music is largely electronic, with real brass and strings being utilised in the title themes. There is assorted
ethnic instrumentation for various episodes: Irish pipes, whistle and fiddle are specifically noted, as is the EWI
(Electronic Wind Instrument - not to be confused with the Electronic Valve Instrument featured in Maurice Jarre's
EVI Concerto). Other solo instruments are: flutes, trumpet, oboe, violin, erhu, in addition to which is the solo
voice of Leah Erbe.
This is not what one might expect given the "Star Trek" associations. There is very little action music. Rather,
this is more akin to a new-age/world music soundscape album, with a fashionably Celtic feel and some most
attractive 'haunting' solo female vocals - indeed, parts are akin to the glittering, atmospheric elements of James
Horner's "Titanic." It works here, but this is the second album this month that I have had for review with a score
using this device - the first was Mark Thomas' stunning "Aristocrats" - and it is rapidly in danger of becoming a
cliché. Even so, the score is works as an album partly because it allows its electronic sounds to sound other
worldly, rather than act, and fail, as a cheap alternative to a symphony orchestra, but mainly because Micky Erbe
and Maribeth Solomon have clear melodic and compositional gifts. They work well together, as they should given
that they have written over 30 scores in partnership over the last 20 years, including several for IMAX films such
as "Blue Planet" (1990).
What action cues they are tend towards the repeated percussion, tension-building of "Babylon 5," as indeed does
the mystical shimmering of the score, than the combative explosiveness of orchestral SF action. The coherence
happily comes from the modern trend to have a single composer, or team, to score an entire series, again like
"Babylon 5" or "The X Files," a trend which can only be applauded. The ancestor of this sort of scoring is the
German synth-progressive rock group Tangerine Dream - B5 composer Christopher Franke was once a member -
and anyone who grew-up with their music in the 70's, and with Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, will feel quite
at home with the music on this disc. It's not essential, it's not even particularly memorable - though the theme is
dramatic enough - but it is thoroughly enjoyable in an undemanding way.
As a curious aside - by strange coincidence this album connects with Silva Screen's "The Essential Maurice
Jarre Film Music Collection" (which I also review this month) by virtue of both releases featuring electronic music
for dramas involving the Amish. As astute cultural commentator Harry Hill might say, what's the chances of that
Gary S. Dalkin
Film Music On The Web
March 30, 2000
"INTOXICATING... ABOVE AVERAGE ON ALL ACCOUNTS"
GENE RODDENBERRY'S EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT chronicles a future where our home planet (Earth) has been
visited and culturally assimilated by an alien race known as the Taelons. Why? Probably because TV was in dire
need of a retelling of the age-old classic series "Alien Nation."
Composers Mickey Erbe and Maribeth Solomon have worked in film and television for many years, notably on
IMAX projects and TV series including "The New Twilight Zone." Their EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT album contains
the main and end title theme and a load of episodic suites picked out from all three seasons of the show's run.
The main theme is an Enya-meets-Dennis McCarthy foray into the world of folk sci-fi music. Erbe and Solomon
fully exploit exotic instrumental combinations like erhu, trumpet and female vocals. While the theme is heavy on
the folk side and a little light on the sci-fi side, it's an above-average main title on all accounts.
The formula for most of the episodic work is to add a few live solo instruments over synth beds. The acoustics
make all the difference, allowing Erbe and Solomon to emphasize melody over mere ambient swells or pads (which
are often used to hide the faults of completely synthesized music).
Unfortunately, Erbe's and Solomon's is the path less traveled in syndicated television these days. The sound
they create for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is infinitely superior to the torturous recurring patches (and bad writing)
in the likes of "Babylon 5," Showtime's "The Outer Limits" and FOX's deadly "X-Files." After a while, the pads and
the laid back nature of most of the tracks on this album do start to take their toll. There isn't much in the way of
action or suspense here, and you're unlikely to find yourself listening straight through the disc.
But melody-driven cues like "Atavus" and "Crossfire" still stand out for their use of solo instruments--and almost
cease to sound like television music. There's nothing musically outstanding here, but the soundscapes are
intoxicating, the orchestrations keep the music alive and the main theme is worth hearing a few times (especially
if you haven't seen the show). Grade: B.
April 5, 2000
"GENTLE EMOTION AND HEARTFELT GRACE"
The underlying feeling throughout the music for this syndicated TV series is one of gentle emotion and heartfelt
grace. Erbe and Solomon, who have worked together in features since the ‘80s (including the notable IMAX films,
"Blue Planet" and "The Dream Is Alive") and, mostly, on television since the ‘90s, have reached the emotional core
of the series by scoring the locale and the characters rather than the futuristic nature of the series.
Unlike "Star Trek," this Gene Roddenberry series takes place on Earth, exploring events in the future when an
advanced alien culture makes contact with humankind. Erbe and Solomon draw extensively from world music
styles through a variety of compelling modern instrumentation (orchestra and electronics), with vocal elements
frequently used to address the aliens and their culture.
"The scope of the series is such the one episode might take place in an industrialized American city, while the
following week's adventure concentrates on a rural European village," writes Mejal Barrett Roddenberry in the CD
notes. "Maribeth, Micky and their assembly of talented musicians have captures the essence of this global
drama, and have created a sound that it alternatively as exciting and intriguing as the concept itself."
The CD contains music from Years I and II of the series, through 25 short-to-moderate length cues, totalling 58
minutes in length. There are no "television themes," as such, buth rather a series of atmospheres and
ambiences, splendidly orchestrated with a variety of instruments from traditional orchestra, electric guitars and
voices, to unusual instrumentation such as erhu, Irish pipes, and some inventively created "alien music." The
main repeated title music features strings and brass, embellished by an electronic wind instrument that gives the
music a neat harmonic quality. The varied nature of the episodes - which may range from an Amish community
one week to an alien homeworld the next - gives the composers ample opportunity for musical creativity and a
unique sound for each episode. There's nothing overtly science fiction about the music, and that's fine.
"THE SOUNDTRACK IS AS DAZZLING AS ONE MAY HOPE FOR"
It is only recently that I have come to appreciate the beautiful stylings of EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT - it always
seemed so much more elegant than other shows. And until now, I had only noticed the impossible-to-hum theme
tune when it came to the show's music. I am delighted to say that the score for the show, now available from
Sonic Images, is as dazzling as one may hope for.
For purists, the tracks are presented "as used" in TV show, forgoing the suite recipe of other Sonic Images
releases, although minute-long tracks can often lead to noticeable breaks. Yet still, all the pieces do work to form
a collection. The sublime synthesizers are colored by inspired use of the human vocal cords, lending oneself to
recall Graeme Revell's more restful pieces, while insistent sampled guitars speed on any track of dramatic
impact. Picking highlights is difficult: the piano-led "Lilli" is mournful and emotive, while the majestic "Moonscape"
suggests a restrained Philip Glass in it's synthesized orchestral charm. On the whole, the score is quietly
inspired; never brash, and all the better for it as a result.
If you are a fan of the theme, and haven't taken time to listen to the incidental music, you are in for a treat. This
music collection is wonderfully relaxing, sensuous and enlightening. Soundtracks are very infrequently this
good, so beg, steal or borrow a copy. Rating: 10/10.
TV Zone Magazine (UK)
"ONE OF THE BEST SYNTH SCORES I HAVE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF HEARING"
EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is the legacy of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, who sadly died before the last
series he conceived ever made it on to the air. Set in the not too distant future, EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT poses
a similar question to that posed by the sadly short-lived TV series "Alien Nation:" what would happen if aliens
visited our planet, and stayed? An enigmatic race from the planet Taelon have arrived on Earth, with seemingly
peaceful intentions, and are welcomed by the enlightened world leaders as honoured guests. However, as the
Taelon begin to integrate into Earth's society, it becomes apparent that their presence may not be as benign as
was first thought... The series, which premiered in 1996, stars Robert Leeshook and Jayne Heitmeyer, and
features Roddenberry's widow Majel Barrett in a supporting role.
The music for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is by Canadian husband-and-wife scoring duo Micky Erbe and Maribeth
Solomon who, from their base in Toronto, have spent the last ten years or so writing for innumerable IMAX movies,
made-for-TV dramas and straight-to-video fodder such as "Dancing In The Dark," "Friends At Last," "John Woo's
Blackjack." I am quite proud to say that I HAD heard of Erbe and Solomon before this CD dropped through my
letterbox, although they were pretty low down on the list of composers I thought I'd ever own a CD by. EARTH:
FINAL CONFLICT is by far the most high profile assignment of their career to date, and they have responded to
the thought-provoking stimulus with one of the best synth scores I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Intriguingly, much of Erbe and Solomon's work features a variety of instrumental soloists, all of whom lend their
considerable talents to a series of wonderfully atmospheric synthesised textures and melodies. The main title is
a decent sounding affair, mixing synth grooves with the beautiful, ethereal voice of Leah Erbe, Ernie Tollar's flute
and George Gao's erhu, cleverly capturing the show's central message of alien societies being thrown together,
past and present and future colliding. The various soloists feature in many subsequent cues, with sublime piano
and trumpet tones of "Decision" and the erhu of "Law and Order," "Atavus" and "Payback" sounding especially
effective. In addition to these, Erbe's haunting vocal performances lend a much-needed human touch to several
tracks, especially the soothing "Defector," while "Sleepers" contains just a hint of Tubular Bells in its counter-
melody, and the amazing "Moonscape" is almost like Wendy Carlos classical adaptation, with a distinctly baroque
However, by far the best cue on the entire album is the second one, "The Secret of Strandhill/Redemption," which
somehow manages to conjure up the evocative sound of Ireland with some goregous pipe solos, traditional fiddles
and pennywhistles, heavenly vocal performances, and a core of delicately beguiling themes. Quite how this
lovely music fits into a science fiction series I have no idea - it sounds like it would be more at home
accompanying a rural romantic drama - but as a standalone listening experience it is undeniably superb. Some of
this thematic material is also recapitulated in "Float Like a Butterfly" and the delightful "Bliss."
Quite frankly, this is the most un-science fiction like science fiction music I have ever heard - but this is in no way
a criticism. Instead, it is just a word of warning to those who might approach EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT expecting
to be bombarded with patriotic fanfares and rousing action in the style of "Stargate SG-1" and "Star Trek." In fact,
the closest EFC ever comes to raising its voice is during the exciting "Second Chances" and the heroic "Déjà Vu."
Instead, the music for EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT is much more akin to the meditative, ethereal music one might
expect to hear on a relaxation album, but with much more interesting themes and an increased sense of musical
originality. As my introduction to the music of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon, I admit to being highly
impressed with their efforts, and look forward to hearing more. Evan H. Chen please take note.
Movie Music UK
April 26, 2000
"SUITABLY OTHERWORLDLY AND EXOTIC..."
The composing team of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon receive their first ever soundtrack album release, to my
knowledge, featuring selections from all three seasons of the Gene Roddenberry creation. For EARTH: FINAL
CONFLICT they have combined traditional instruments with an EWI (electronic wind instrument), banks of synths,
sampled choirs, and solo work from violinist Lenny Solomon, George Gao on the Chinese erhu, with the haunting
vocals of Leah Erbe topping things off. As a result, the music, for the most part, is suitably otherworldly and
exotic. There are however some nice, more earthbound moments, often provided by piano, as in "Decision" and
"Lilli;" and "The Secret of Strandhill" is a standout, starting off with the voice/erhu/synths/choir combination, then
turning folksy with traditional Irish instruments, before coming to its lovely conclusion. There are a few rhythmic
moments of action in the score, but it's largely the said otherworldly atmosphere that dominates. The colorful 6-
page booklet includes brief notes on the composers and their approach, plus an introduction by series executive
producer and star Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Film Music Bulletin
"FANS OF SF ARE IN FOR A TREAT"
Fans of SF are in for a treat (a delicacy, no less!) that comes across the Atlantic and released by Sonic
Images Records, a tribute to the one that was Gene Roddenberry, the celebrated creator of the TV series "Star
Trek." The title of the album is EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT, as is the title fo the new series created by Gene; it
presents the Earth in a not-too-distant future, and a place where people are visited by an enigmatic extra-
terrestrial race. The composers of the soundtrack are Canadians Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon (www.
mickymar.com). You can find more details at the official website at www.earthfinalconflict.com.
Magazin - Music Box (Romania)
April 6, 2000
"MEZMERIZING... A RICHNESS NEVER BEFORE REACHED IN THE MUSIC OF A TV SERIES"
To many, the career of writer/producer Gene Roddenberry seems to begin and end with the "Star Trek" series and
movies. However, the imagination of this former U.S. Air Force pilot continues to fan the flames of audiences'
imagination through an ambitious series with strong sociological intentions (just as "Star Trek" was, which tackled
in its time several difficult subjects). A true catalyst of a study of human behavior and its multiple role in society,
science-fiction was one of the main engines in the acceptance of more terrestrial yet sensible ideas. Conceived
by Gene Roddenberry during the 80s et produced after his death by his widow (Majel Barrett Roddenberry)
EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT goes against the grain of current shows taking place in the near future and featuring a
possible extra-terrestrial invasion. By making the Taelons (the Companions) an extra-terrestrial people with
ambiguous appearance and actions, the series rapidly climbed to the top of the market left vacant by another
ambitious politico-science-fiction series: "Babylon 5."
With the international succes of the show, a compilation of the best musical moments of the series had to happen.
They were composed by the duo of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon and is finally available under the Sonic
Images label. A fair occurence for a musical production entirely supported by the two unique composers of the
series working as a team on each of the episodes of the series. A tour de force if you take into account
particularly low music budgets for that type of series. However, the cocktail of influences and genres tackled by
a composition closer to New Age ambiances than Space Opera evolves with the story told by the show.
Entirely performed by synthetizers and a few acousitc instruments, the music turns out to be of an uncommon
richness and serenity for this type of show. A judicious choice, even though it was mainly dictated by economic
constraints, that gives the music an important role as a moderator. One only has to let himself be absorbed by
the musical flow that links from beginning to end the 60 minutes of music on the album to be convinced...
Charismatic and consequently charming, the music gives out a strange feeling evolving between serenity,
wisdom but also in rare moments a certain urgent form. This savory distillation of the music turns out to be so
efficient, even compelling, that it is sometimes difficult to turn away from the album as you listen to it.
This musical symbiosis is essentially due to a melodically rich composition, covering many genres in making a
very strange blend. From Celtic inspirations (pay attention to the very "Enya-esque" "The Secret Of Strandhill")
to Amish influences ("Float Like A Butterfly") through an instrumental choice that's overtly multi-ethnic (and even
extra-terrestrial by moment), every cue offers the listener a musical variety that many series are far from offering
on a strictly musical level. This strange bland, this alchemy of sounds from elsewhere although always fashioned
very melodically, the "Main Title" gives on purpose a forebear with the surprising use of a fanfare that soon
metamorphosizes into a sort of universal hymn played by a group of ethnic instruments, acoustic et electronic
(EWI, duduk, erhu, trumpet...) together with a solo voice (Leah Erbe) sounding quite mesmerizing. A solo voice
that is very often accompanied by the ehru (a Chinese string instrument related to the violin) whose appearances
can sometimes leave the listener a little unsatisfied.
If the series fully palys the ambiguity card, the same can of course be said about the music... It takes a sort of
musical neutrality that offers through a masterful play of balances the various points of view defended
throughout the series. An equilibrium the recipee of which seems to work as well on the show as when listening
to the music by itself. It's incidentally what makes the strength of this unique album, making it continually
interesting throughout, even if the best cues are grouped at the beginning of the album. It's interesting to notice
that the music always seems to have the same regular rythm, almost without any change.
Long awaited, this album featuring some of the best compositions heard on EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT turns out
to be a good surprise made of captivating melodies and multi-ethnic sounds giving the listener a richess of tone
never before reached in the music of a TV series. The selection and sequencing of the cues help this musical
immersion. In spite of its ambiguous title, EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT will no doubt please the aficionados of the
show very much and will scare by its apparent nonchalance all others. Be it what it may, the serenity coming
from the compositions of Micky Erbe and Maribeth Solomon make this album a perfect companion for velvet
The sound is clear and deep; nothing really glorious given the mainly synthetic aspect of the score. Still, there
remains a subtle balance with the acoustical elements that give this disc a certain richness... The presentation of
the accompanying booklet is superb. Notes by Majel Roddenberry as well as a short description of the contents
of the CD complete an album that is as pleasant to read as it is to hear. The only missing thing unfortunately are
notes from the two composers as well as their picture. That would have made it a must-have. ***
"INCREDIBLE... SIMPLY ENCHANTING WITH ITS LYRICISM AND LIGHTNESS"
Expected for over a year, here comes finally the incredible EARTH FINAL CONFLICT series soundtrack album,
sheperded by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of the late "Star Trek" creator.
A true surprise from end to end, this television score is simply enchanting with its lyricism and lightness. We
really feel very far from any space battle. A reduced orchestra, a few synthesizers and the vocals by Leah Erbe
give us perfectly mastered and tasty Celtic and oriental accents, where the erhu - an instrument of the strings
family coming from China - is prominently featured. Even the shorter cues such as "Float Like A Butterfly" or
"Deja Vu" do not break the ambience, but rather play the part of musical ponctuation marks in introduction to
coming developments. The "Main Title" is present throughout the album but its variations never wear out their
welcome, be it played faster in "Crossfire" or accompanied by a restrained keyboard in "Lilli." The emotional
impact of the album is built like a crescendo, the selection of the cues illustrating the strongest moments of the
EARTH FINAL CONFLICT is a new example - as if one was needed! - of the great qulity of television productions
in general, that many have a tendency to denigrate compared with theatrical films. But listening to such a CD
gives great credibility to the die-hard fans of television shows and makes us wish that, as in "Star Trek," these
pieces of music live long and proper...
Dreams To Dream Magazine (France)