Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Christopher FRANKE Babylon 5 TV series Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra/composer SONIC IMAGES Vol 1 [58:03] SID6502; Vol 2 [57:38] SID6602  


Babylon 5 is intelligent science fiction. While nowhere near as good as Star Trek (TNG), DS9 or Voyager it makes a serious stab at a continuous epic storyline rather than a series of episodes grafted onto a skimpy mission/return home plot. Special effects are respectable rather than excellent. Babylon 5 has a greater claim tocult (devoted smallish audience) status than the much more widely recognised ST offshoots.

Franke is a Berliner and studied classical music there. He became a member of Tangerine Dream well -known for their forays into film scores and flirting with the avant-garde classical world. Vol 2’s booklet reminds us that the group scored more than 30 films including Legend. The orchestra used here was founded by Franke. Universal Soldier (a Van Damme vehicle) is one of Franke’s own scores. So … two hours of Babylon 5 music. These are not entirely orchestral scores. Electronic and synthesised effects scurry and slide over and around the orchestra. It is all rather seventies in feeling complete with little bells, breathy choral effects and echoing pianos. The music often has a driven rock beat. Hammered drums, Ligeti-like choral interjections, heart-beat pulses, gongs and metal plates are part of the upholstery. It does not stand up well when severed from the video images and sound effects. Oddly enough it reminds me from time to time of the much more impressive music for the epic Das Boot. Was that another Franke score?

Again these two volumes are for Franke fanciers and fanatical Babylonian Fivers. Goodish background music. The Vol 2 is marginally more interesting but neither is really suitable for focused listening. They will, I suspect, be well pleased. The documentation is heavy with visuals from the series but reasonably informative. Sound quality is good - deep sound-stage and quite a rich blooming effect overall.

Rob Barnett

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