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Section Header
Babylon 5: Messages from Earth
Composed, Performed, and Produced by:
Christopher Franke

Performed by:
Berlin Symphony Film Orchestra

Conducted by:
Alan Franklin

Sonic Images

Release Date:
September 9th, 1997

Also See:
B5: Sleeping in Light

Audio Clips:
1. Main Title, 1st Season (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

2. Messages from Earth (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

5. Main Title, 3rd Season (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

8. Voices of Authority (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

Regular U.S. release.


Babylon 5: Messages from Earth
Volume 2: Messages from Earth

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Sales Rank: 206343

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Buy it... if you're looking for your first taste of Christopher Franke's music from "Babylon 5," for this compilation has long been regarded as the best representation in existence.

Avoid it... only if you never intend, based on samples of Franke's consistent style for the concept that you've heard in various places, to ever explore this show's music.

Babylon 5: Volume 2: Messages from Earth: (Christopher Franke) A ground-breaking science fiction series on TNT in the late 1990's, the 5-year saga of "Babylon 5" made itself known worldwide through trademark innovations in special effects, make-up, and music. The unconventional music of "Babylon 5" worked so well in context because the show's production was also somewhat unconventional. Instead of building models for space sequences and contracting a full orchestra to perform for each episode, J. Michael Straczynski created a concept that became more of a political space fantasy than a typical, technically interpersonal sci-fi production. Tackling the duties of scoring "Babylon 5" was former Tangerine Dream member and Sonic Images Records founder Christopher Franke, whose electronically creative music for each and every episode (as well as the majority of television films) added another dimension of mystery, suspense, and excitement to the show, with an easily distinguishable character that separates "Babylon 5" from other sci-fi television entries of the era. In these regards, Franke's contribution was a perfect match for the style of special effects that may now look simplistic in retrospect, but were, at the very least, another extremely identifiable aspect of the show. On album, however, some of Franke's episodic scores for "Babylon 5" remain more enjoyable than others. The music, interestingly, sometimes lacks three-dimensional character when heard without those distinct visuals, a problem complicated by the fact that Franke's own label released so many of the episodic scores on albums that generally ranged from 25 to 36 minutes in length. These episodic CDs often cost the same as a full retail product featuring 75 minutes of orchestral soundtrack music, complicating their "hit and miss" tendencies. With this dilemma in mind, Sonic Images released two compilations between 1995 and 1997 that remained (even years later) the best representation of music from the production's run. The episodic scores were definitely products that required an appreciation of the individual episode represented, and thus appealed to a more narrow audience. If you're looking for just a taste of what the "Babylon 5" universe sounded like, then the second compilation, "Messages from Earth," is clearly the best starting point.

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The "Messages from Earth" volume contains highlights from the first four seasons of the show, combining extensive re-workings of the music from a few of the original episodic CD's (from the September, 1997 batch) with each of the first four title themes. One of the more refreshing aspects of the music is the fact that the title music, although consistent in style, deviates in theme from year to year. It is a welcome change when compared to the "Star Trek" shows that continue to push their original themes and orchestration year after year. Instead, Franke uses the consistency of his synthetic style to define the universe, making the incorporation of the themes into the episodic scores unnecessary as well. The theme from season five, which doesn't appear in its own form here, was inspired by the theme of the 4th season episode "Voices of Authority," one of the best in the history of the series. The brass (real or faux, it doesn't really matter with all the sound effects and electronic percussion mixed in) performance of this theme at the start and end of the suite is fantastic. The arrangement of the first season's theme, as well as the latter half of "Messages from Earth," are extended versions of those that appear in the show; both are well worth the price of the album. The "Messages from Earth" suite shifts from a scene of battle at about 6:30 to a scene between the lead couple, Delenn and Sheridan, and the minutes that follow are pure new age/light rock magic. While the episodic releases of "Severed Dreams" and "Z'Ha'Dum" are regarded highly by fans of the show, they're not really among Franke's best, and the suites available here should suffice. The third season's title theme performance on this compilation is important because the later episodic releases from that season include Claudia Christian's dialogue over the music. The only season's theme that really should include the dialogue is the fifth, which uses a collection of famous quotes from the first four seasons to set the mood for each episode. Overall, there is no doubt that at the time of the release of this compilation, the best fifteen minutes of music from the show existed in its contents. Franke would continue to add strong material to the show in the last season, but absent that material, "Messages from Earth" is still as good of a compilation of "Babylon 5" material as was offered during the show's height of popularity. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.62 Stars
Smart Average: 3.47 Stars*
***** 92 
**** 57 
*** 34 
** 25 
* 33 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Filmtracks Sponsored Donated Review
  John Dunham -- 9/7/08 (7:07 p.m.)
   Excellent music
  Sheridan -- 7/4/06 (3:30 a.m.)
   How can you do this
  Jarmo jalonen -- 2/6/06 (6:29 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 58:00

• 1. Main Title, 1st Season (Extended) (3:17)
• 2. Messages from Earth (10:05)
• 3. Main Title, 2nd Season (1:30)
• 4. Z'Ha'Dum (12:20)
• 5. Main Title, 3rd Season (1:31)
• 6. Severed Dreams (15:37)
• 7. Main Title, 4th Season (1:29)
• 8. Voices of Authority (11:26)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains extensive imagery from the show and notes about both Franke and the show. There's also a picture of Franke looking rather demonic.

  All artwork and sound clips from Babylon 5: Messages from Earth are Copyright © 1997, Sonic Images. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/7/99 and last updated 9/9/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.