Music composed by Christopher Franke
Performed by Christopher Franke and the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
Recorded and Produced by Richard E. Roth
Mastered by Rudi Panke
Cover art by Doerte Lau, Layout by Caroline Smalley
BABYLON 5, one of the more successful forays into the TV sci-fi arena, dazzles viewers weekly with its
creatively bizarre alien worlds. As with all sci-fi though, stunning visuals alone can't hold up a show on
their own very long. The right music plays an essential role in bringing such fantastic stories to life. And
who better than Christopher Franke to color BABYLON 5's imaginative pictures with his sublime
This dramatic score is compositionally the boldest Franke has yet been in his still-young solo career. At
times beautifully ambient, other times intensely powerful, the twelve-movement "BABYLON 5 SUITE"
decidedly captures the series' spirit of adventure in its fifty-plus minutes.
Sweeping themes, pounding rhythms, and elegant melodies come together in an album that could largely hold
its own purely as a studio recording. As with any truly effective soundtrack, the music in BABYLON 5 takes
on a life of its own separate from the show's setting. In fact, its unusually grand scope is quite rare for a
television series, even rivaling some of the more celebrated feature film scores to come out of Hollywood.
Integral to any Franke composition is the meticulous attention to detail in sound colors, for which his record
label Sonic Images is aptly named. Sure to please fans from his Tangerine Dream days is the marked increase
in employment of electronic sounds over some of his other solo soundtrack works. His recent tendency
toward mixing synthesizers with traditional orchestral arrangements feels much more natural here than in
some previous efforts. The two blend easily, giving BABYLON 5 the accessibility of a symphonic score with
the textures of modern electronics. The end result is all at once familiar and strange, which fits the show's
theme perfectly. BABYLON 5 will surely be a satisfying addition to the collections of both Franke fans and
fans of the television show. The limited Collector's Edition release-autographed and hand numbered-will
undoubtedly be a treasured keepsake for both groups, and as with most sci-fi memorabilia, will probably
increase in monetary value, too.
It's only the middle of August as I write this review, but my vote is cast. This will be the electronic music
album to beat, for all those contenders reading this magazine. I really thought Christopher had hit his peak
with the special edition of "Klemania", but this one is 200 stories high!
There are twelve cuts divided up into 4 segments. The first segment comprised of four cuts. "Chrysalis" is
high energy symphonic synthesis with a lot of dramatic moments. On these four cuts Mr. Franke comes up
with a powerful and beautiful distillation of the aural side of science fiction at it's best. The arranging and
orchestration rivet you from the first note to the last, and it's one of the best orchestrated segments on any
electronic album I have ever heard.
Besides the incredible synth work of Mr. Franke, his Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra is a top notch
worldclass ensemble, adding immensely to the overall atmosphere. "Mind War", comprised of two short cuts
is an uptempo stark, but dramatic segue between the symphonic work in the first section, titled "Parliament
of Dreams", is comprised of two long spacious pieces. While, they outwardly seem more ambient, they have a
more outgoing character with ballad movements of surpassing beauty, particularly early in the work, and
near the conclusion of the second piece.
The album closes with "The Geometry of Shadows", two pieces that have a combined length of a little over 15
minutes. These two pieces slowly unwind and atta in an impressive momentum of emotional passages, and
dynamic phrasing throughout. All in all, it is an elegant sophisticated collection of music from one of the best
series to grace later 20th century network television. Don't miss it, you will definitely regret it if you do.
I'll give this one 5 immense stars, well done Christopher! Available from better music retailers, Minette
Music, and Backroads Mail order.
-Ben Kettlewell Dreams World
Nowadays, it seems as if every television show and movie, in order to be considered successful, must have a
separate soundtrack capable of being marketed as an event unto itself. Christopher Franke's soundtrack to
the television show Babylon 5 manages to achieve a cohesion that far outshines the output of most television
and film composers...
Franke accomplishes this feat by reorchestrating his works around four suites that encompass a central
theme while still exploring new musical terrain. His combination of electronic and symphonic instruments
build upon one another in creative and originals ways...
The opening suite, entitled "Chrysalis," establishes the thematic elements within the initial ninety seconds,
and as the work continues through its four movements this invigorating experimentation makes for an eerie
yet inspiring listening experience...
The second suite, titled "Mind War," is the most successful. Using abundant percussion and deep vibrant
bass, Franke expertly expresses the internal struggle that would take place during a psychological battle. Its
a strong work that offers intriguing instrumentation and stimulating sonic elements...
"The Geometry of Shadows," the final composition, opens with a stirring rendition of the leitmotif, and his
intertwining of traditional instrumentation and electronic effects is ultimately engrossing and enjoyable,
and worthy of critical respect and popular acceptance.
The Thirteenth Moon
The first Babylon 5 soundtrack is a fantastic suite from four separate episodes. Featuring some very striking
movements with fast paced electronic strings in sharp rhythms (“Chrysalis”) , this album is an excellent sampler
of the best sounds of Babylon 5. The ambient sections are smoothly integrated and quite alluring. “Parliament of
Dreams” reveals a surprising side of Franke--hypnotic, gorgeous electronic jazz. Who knew?!
May 7, 1999