Christopher Franke – New Music For Films, Volume 2

New Music For Films, Volume 2In 1994, after Babylon 5’s first season premiered in syndication and I was firmly hooked on all aspects of it, I went looking to see if anything had previously been released by Christopher Franke, and promptly found the then-fairly-recent New Music For Films Volume 1. A pretty good chunk of that compilation of cuts from various Franke film scores sounded authentically Babylon 5-ish, so I was more than happy with it. When actual Babylon 5 music finally appeared, I snatched it up eagerly, though I’ll admit to having balked numerous times when the “episodic CDs” appeared with frequently-reused music and an almost trading-card approach to the soundtrack market.

I passed on New Music For Films Volume 2 when it came out – a year after the last of the Babylon 5 episodic CDs – because I was, frankly, Franke’d out. Having now gotten it and listened to it, I wonder if the problem wasn’t that I was Babylon 5’ed out – or maybe Franke was too, resulting in a fatigued composer and a fatigued audience who both needed a break. This second volume of New Music shows that not Franke was stretching his wings further than the B5 signature style already, with much of this music being contemporary with the show’s final season. In other words, there’s stuff on here that doesn’t sound like Babylon 5.

One area where Franke will never be able to escape the similarity is with action music. His signature low pulsing string arrangements give him away like snare-drum Americana gives John Williams away. His action cues tend to sound the same from project to project, and given that there are few such pieces on this compilation, it’s hard not to wonder if he knows that too.

Where this second volume of New Music excels is in this places where it sounds like nothing Franke has done before. There are a couple of tracks with choral sections, but they sound completely different from the operatic choral elements Franke used frequently on Babylon 5. As his label, Sonic Images, had just opened sublabels for world music and electronica at the time, here Franke seems to be trying those styles on for size to see if they fit the project he’s working on. The result is, in places, something that sounds much more up-to-date than a 2000 release. Middle Eastern influences, processed percussion, and more piano than I’m used to from Franke all make appearances.

Rating: 3 out of 4If you watch The Lost Tales and find yourself yearning for more of the Christopher Franke sound than can be found on the somewhat brief Lost Tales CD, this is certainly an album that can deliver, and maybe it’ll introduce you to a whole new Christopher Franke sound as well.

    Order this CD in the Store

  1. Opening (3:17)
  2. Morning Ride (2:23)
  3. Attack On The Village (2:40)
  4. Damaged Goods (1:49)
  5. Jane’s Arrival (5:10)
  6. The Dam Breaks (1:05)
  7. Broken Dreams (2:55)
  8. Escape (2:05)
  9. A New Friendship (1:40)
  10. The Chase (2:13)
  11. Deadly Flight (6:31)
  12. Near Death (1:38)
  13. Dance Lesson (1:17)
  14. The Race (4:05)
  15. Fight For Opar (5:10)
  16. Finale (3:32)

Released by: Sonic Images
Release date: 2000
Total running time: 47:31