Babylon 5: The River Of Souls

Babylon 5: The River Of Souls soundtrackTo accompany the third and (story-wise, at least) least successful Babylon 5 television movie, Christopher Franke turned in an atypical (for Babylon 5) score full of ethnic instrumentation (or at least good synthesized facsimiles thereof) and haunting choral textures – a good choice, since River of Souls is more or less a traditional ghost story, with archaeological elements that also go along with Egyptian Mummy tales, in a science fiction setting.

Franke has made frequent use of sampled choir in his past Babylon 5 soundtracks, especially during the late third and early fourth seasons at the height of the series’ Shadow War story arc. But for River Of Souls, Franke managed to work chanting into the mix, making this soundtrack quite unique among his B5 soundtracks. There are also some chords and instruments, probably Electronic Wind Instruments, that instantly call up a Mediterrenean millieu, perfect for River Of Souls‘ resurrected-evil trappings. Just as Franke’s music for Thirdspace used theremin to ensure an almost-subliminal connection between that movie’s artifact and unearthly terrors, Franke also relies on that subliminal identification to carry this score off, and it works.

Track three is probably the highlight of the entire disc, including the excellent Soul Hunters cue with its eerily echoing percussion, and the lengthy but equally haunting “Lost Souls Of Ralga” sequence, a flashback showing the Soul Hunters’ descent upon a helpless planet whose population was assumed to be dying.

And yes, every single lick of cheesy organ lounge music from the movie’s annoyingly out-of-place “holobrothel” scenes is included, frequently butting in on the good stuff…but on its own, if one can try to forget the connection, it’s pretty funky (and amusing) in its own right.

I guess the music from River Of Souls was mixed down savagely for broadcast…because I never would have guessed from watching the broadcast that the music would stand up to this much scrutiny. Truthfully, the score is better than some of the story!

4 out of 4And there’s a bonus at the end of the last track: the real end credit music, which was – for those of you who recall watching it on TNT – covered by one of the handful of lounge music source tracks. The music that was intended to go over the credits is quite good – a very punched-up version of the oppressive theme that begins to emerge around track three.

(An amusing little side note: the first announcement of the existence of this CD came in 1998, when it was mentioned as a future release titled River of Soul. Well, I watched the movie when it first aired, and I didn’t see James Brown guest starring…)

Order this CD

  1. Act One (9:17)

    • The River of Souls (1:05)
    • The Discovery (2:27)
    • Under Attack (2:30)
    • A Wonderful Day (0:25)
    • Eye Pain (0:39)
    • “Another Day, Another Holo” (1:36)
    • “Found Anything Lately?” (0:32)
  2. Act Two (8:06)

    • Babylon 5 Sweep (0:21)
    • Garibaldi’s Ultimatum (2:15)
    • The Love Bat (1:10)
    • First Contact (0:44)
    • Meanwhile, Back at the Holobrothel (1:26)
    • “Leave Us Alone!” (1:34)
    • Zack’s Hallway Encounter (0:34)
  3. Act Three (8:15)

    • Bryson and Garibaldi (1:09)
    • Soul Hunters (1:57)
    • The Lost Souls of Ralga (3:54)
    • Grave Predictions (1:13)
  4. Act Four (5:47)

    • A Long Night (1:00)
    • Back to the Holobrothel (1:21)
    • Scissorhands (0:30)
    • Rage Unleashed (0:52)
    • Lochley Into Otherworld (0:56)
    • “We Are Evolving” (1:15)
  5. Act Five (7:51)

    • Defense Activated (0:18)
    • “You Made A Mistake” (4:42)
    • Outside Manifestation (1:00)
    • Lochley Figures It Out (1:49)
  6. Act Six (10:26)

    • Take Action (0:53)
    • Approach Bryson (1:38)
    • “On The Other Hand…” (0:47)
    • Soul Hunter’s Sacrifice (4:13)
    • The Soul Sees What The Soul Sees (0:55)
    • “Like The Old Days” (0:28)
    • “Zack Was Right” (0:37)
    • End Credits (0:51)

Released by: Sonic Images
Release date: 1999
Total running time: 49:55