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TFN Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 1-6 Original Soundtrack

Posted by Chris on November 12, 2014 at 09:00 AM CST

Even though Star Wars: The Clone Wars has officially come to an end and made way for a new era of Star Wars television, that hasnít stopped Disney or Lucasfilm from surprising the fandom with even more TCW content. One thing that the fans have been asking for is a soundtrack to the award-winning series, and thanks to Walt Disney Records, it is now a reality. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Seasons 1-6 Original Soundtrack, composed by Kevin Kiner, is a 57-minute, 28 track album that includes music from every season of TCW. Aside from some tracks that were made available through Kinerís official website, this is the first time the series has seen an official soundtrack release (excluding the theatrical movie that preceded it).

The album opens with a rousing track called Ahsoka Saves Anakin. It is a very intense track, full of roaring brass and pounding percussion. A soaring version of The Force Theme makes an appearance and thenÖthe track ends. In fact, it does so abruptly enough that I had to go and make sure that it played all the way through. This is very unfortunate as I feel like there could have been so much more. The following tracks, Plo Koon and Rodia, make great use of choral elements, an aspect of Star Wars music that rarely disappoints. John Williams always finds a way to use a choir effectively and with great emotion, so it is very encouraging to see Kevin Kiner continuing that.

While it is nice that Kiner is Williams-esque in some ways, he also adds new things to the score that we havenít really heard in Star Wars. Jedi Master Aayla Secura is a prime example of this. Using various forms of percussion and woodwinds, Kiner gives Master Secura a unique theme that fits her perfectly. And itís not only this track: any one of them that involves specific characters, either by themselves or with another, adds a breath of fresh air to the character(s) in question and helps add to their development.

This is integral to The Clone Wars because for so many of the characters, we already know of their fate because we see what happens in Revenge of the Sith. Yet Kiner manages to create something musically so that the listener feels more connected to what they see on screen. The track, Anakin and Padme, feels as if it could be an alternate take from ROTS because it perfectly captures that relationship, and it makes me feel more sympathetic for two characters that up until now have practically been exhausted of all development. This is something that is very hard to pull off musically, but Kevin Kiner does a marvelous job with it.

As the soundtrack continues through the middle portion of it and into the latter half, a few weak tracks make an appearance here and there. However, this is also where some of the highlights of this album show up. The first is Anakin Sees His Future. It begins with a very brief, ominious cue from an ROTS track, Battle of the Heroes, before becoming more powerful and grandiloquent. A cameo by The Imperial March also makes an appearance before the track starts to wear down and eventually end. Ashokaís Fall is another standout that really captures the tragedy of the character, along with Darth Maul Breaks Obi-Wan. Duel in the Jedi Temple is also a highlight, and despite being only a minute and a half long, deserves to ranked with the best of all the duel themes. (Also, were the beginning notes a brief nod to Anakin vs. Obi-Wan from ROTS?) Finally, Yodaís Journey Ends is a wonderful outro to the soundtrack, and if any track is worthy enough to close out The Clone Wars, itís this one.

As great as this soundtrack has been, Iíve yet to discuss what I believe are the two best tracks on the entire album: Maul, Savage and Viszla, and Maul and Savage Duel Palpatine. Clocking in at 2:46 and 2:52 respectively, they are the longest tracks on the album, and I couldnít be anymore happier about that because simply put, they are brilliant. Maul, Savage, and Viszla mixes everything great about the perfect Star Wars track and combines it into one: a haunting chorus, powerful brass, stirring strings, and hammering percussion. The result is nothing short of phenomenal.

Meanwhile, I can comfortably say that Maul and Savage Duel Palpatine is hands down one of the greatest Star Wars tracks of all time. Any shortcoming that youíve ever had about a duel theme has been alleviated with this. It begins with a theme that earns the description of epic, and after a minute of this, transitions into The Emperorís Theme. Even though weíve heard that theme many times before, it shows up in a somewhat surprising fashion and gives you chills akin to its first appearance in Return of the Jedi. The intensity from the beginning resumes before closing out on a very tense, nerve-racking note, but not before confirming its status as the gem of this album.

For all of its strengths, I do have a couple gripes with the way this soundtrack was put together. First of all, the average length of the song is roughly two minutes, which is awfully short for a soundtrack of this caliber. I know they were trying to cram in as much as possible given that there are six seasons worth of music to work with, but I feel like it is somewhat rushed and haphazard. Secondly, some tracks end on an abrupt or awkward note, or feel unfinished. I doubt this is the fault of the composer and more due to the editing process, but it does have the potential to ruin the flow of the album. While these are not extremely damaging to my overall opinion of the soundtrack, it is a worry nonetheless, and I hope future releases are handled with more care.

With that being said, this soundtrack is without a doubt a must-own for all fans of The Clone Wars. Even if you havenít seen a minute of the show, it is still an absolute pleasure to listen to, and well worth the purchase. While the editing and the length of the tracks could have been managed better, it is a nice love letter to the fans who stuck with The Clone Wars. Kevin Kiner deserves an enormous amount of praise for this music, and it's clear that the Force was surely with him when he wrote it. Do yourself a favor and purchase this soundtrack, and even if you donít want to buy the entire album, check out some of the better tracks. Trust me, you will not regret it.

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