The short version:
Jerry Goldsmith—Star Trek: The Motion Picture: 7/10
Robyn Miller—Riven: 6/10
David Arkenstone—The Celtic Book of Days: 8/10
I recently posted about some of the non-instrumental music and comedy CDs I've been listening to, but I left out the instrumental music. All three of these CDs are recommendable, for different reasons.
The first instrumental CD I've been listening to recently is the soundtrack to Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Jerry Goldsmith. I had forgotten that it had such a good soundtrack. (Plus, I named my main World of Warcraft character after the main character V'Ger from this movie, so it's fun to see that track title pop up in Winamp a couple times on each play through.) Sci-Fi movie soundtracks, at least the ones to movies that aren't trying to just be action movies, are typically grandiose and mysterious, and this is no exception. The Star Trek series is going to miss Jerry Goldsmith on the next movie. While overall the soundtrack is good, and the particular recording I have has been remastered, it was recorded a quarter century ago, and it's certainly not as crisp and bright as it should be.
Anyway, I like it; check out Ilia's Theme, the pretty opening track; Leaving Drydock, essentially an extended version of what became the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme; and V'Ger Flyover, one of the more mysterious tracks. (I could only find :30 previews on Amazon for these.)
I also have been listening to the Riven soundtrack by Robyn Miller. It's all moody, weird, and synthesized, which fits the sequel to Myst perfectly. The tracks don't really stand out on their own, but the disc from beginning to end sounds great as a whole, if you're in the mood for it. Check out these tracks, again only :30 samples: Village entrance theme, Catherine's Freedom, and Fissure. Fissure is the song played during the game's end credits, and it's the reason I decided many years ago that someday I would have to get the soundtrack. Sadly, the first thirty seconds are just a prelude; the rest of the track is better—it's a reprise of Atrus' Theme. The music is simple, but nice.
The last instrumental CD that I've been listening to is The Celtic Book of Days by David Arkenstone. I recently listened to another one of his CDs, Spirit Wind, and wasn't terribly impressed, but this one is better. It's brighter and cheerier, and more Celtic and less generic new age music. It has a few vocal tracks as well; they're not my favorites. Check out Equos Fair (full-length), Yearning Hearts (full-length), and The Quest of Culhwch (:30 sample) for a good idea of what the album is like. This is an excellent CD, and were it not for a few tracks that I'm not terribly partial to, I might have given this a 9/10.
There's lots of music that I'm really excited about on the way: a new Basement Jaxx CD, Crazy Itch Radio; a new Enigma CD, A Posteriori; a new Scissor Sisters CD, Ta Dah!; and more.