Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"And so it begins..."

I have finally completed my first mix of 2009.

23 Tracks • 81:27

    Side One

  1. MAIN TITLE (Overture in Three Parts) 3:07

  2. THE STUFF OF STARS (A Distant Star/Soul Mates/Chrysalis) 2:20

  3. GHOSTS OF RALGA (The River of Souls) 4:30

  4. BREAKING AWAY (Severed Dreams) 4:10

  5. A LIFE TOGETHER (Falling Towards Apotheosis) 2:10

  6. THE ADDER (A Late Delivery From Avalon) 3:56

  7. THE BATTLE OF THE LINE (In the Beginning) 4:47

  8. SINCLAIR REMEMBERS (And the Sky Full of Stars) 1:49

  9. KOSH UNVEILED (The Fall of Night) 3:52

  10. BABYLON PRIME (War Without End Parts I & II) 3:59

  11. MANY PARTINGS (Objects At Rest) 5:51

  12. Side Two

  13. MAIN TITLE (Season 5 — Extended Version) 3:31

  14. THE ALIEN ARTIFACT (Thirdspace) 4:58

  15. NARN CRUSHED (The Long Twilight Struggle) 4:08

  16. A SUNDAY DRIVE (Sleeping In Light) 4:03

  17. THE WAR (In the Beginning) 3:14

  18. REQUIEM FOR THE LINE (Album Version) 4:15

  19. THE DRAZI HOMEWORLD (The Ragged Edge) 1:43

  20. THE MARKAB PLAGUE (Confessions and Lamentations) 1:59

  21. INTO THE ABYSS (Z'Ha'Dum) 3:48

  22. FOR THE FUTURE (Objects At Rest) 3:28

  23. THE DAWNING OF THE THIRD AGE (Into the Fire) 2:04

  24. DECOMMISSIONED (Sleeping In Light) 3:32

As with most television series, I did not watch Babylon 5 upon its initial run. This in and of itself was no reflection on the show, but I just never had reason to catch up to it until suitboyskin, knowing my interest in hard science fiction and long character arcs recommended I watch it. I approached with some trepidation, but the plot of the first episode (due to the way the DVDs were packaged, I didn't catch up to the pilot "The Gathering" until later), "Midnight on the Firing Line" had a reversal that made me think, "Oh, well played," and so I was immediately hooked. Sure, some of the acting was dated and the CGI towards the beginning of the series looked rather primitive, but the writing was outstanding; storylines were unpredictable yet intelligent, characters I didn't warm up to immediately were given arcs that made me invested in them and while every once and a while they'd pull something out of left field (and there was sound in space, argh!), for the most part the science on the show was rather decent. And if there was ever a series that paid off loyal viewing, it was Babylon 5.

The original pilot was scored by Stewart Copeland (formerly of the Police, with scores such as Rumble Fish and Highlander 2: The Gathering — no relation to the B5 pilot — to his credit), who employed electric guitars and drum machines, and had a very 80s feel. Copeland was not available when the series was picked up, and eventually the pilot was re-edited to conform more closely with the continuity of the series as it developed, which included replacing Copeland's score. This is the version that is available on DVD, but you can see the original cut of the pilot with Copeland's music on Hulu.

Christopher Franke was brought on to score the series, and it was his musical voice that remained a constant throughout the run of Babylon 5. Franke was primarily known as a keyboardist and drummer and was a member of the highly influential group Tangerine Dream, who were major players in establishing the Berlin School of electronic music (and as such, had as both bandmember and scoring composer a large influence on Hans Zimmer). The Dream had scored several films, including Thief, Firestarter, Near Dark, Three O'Clock High, Risky Business and the American version of Legend, so Franke had some experience working to picture when he did his first solo outing, a telefilm called Frühstück für Feinde. This was followed by a flurry of scores for Driving Me Crazy, McBain, Universal Soldier, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Tommyknockers; he also scored the series Raven before he was tapped to score Babylon 5.

Franke's music became almost like another character on the show, giving it a unique sound consisting primarily of electronics but with some acoustic elements mixed in. While many composers at the time were trying to get their synthesizers to sound more like actual instruments, the music for Babylon 5 instead embraced the more bizarre effects that could be produced electronically. Franke's Babylon 5 music is not so much about themes (although there are several recurring motives throughout the series) as it is about sound; his melodies are usually very simple, with cues often built around embellishing a short figure with various sonic effects.

Babylon 5 may be the television series best represented on CD, with no less than thirty-one discs devoted to it. Two of these are full-length albums with music from the various episodes edited into suites named after episodes (although the titles of the suites have nothing to do with the music contained therein). There were also twenty-four "episodic CDs," each of which contained the complete score for a particular episode. There were four telefilm scores released as well, and there is also The Best of Babylon 5, a compilation that I must admit I was not particularly fond of, but had some interesting music not included on any of the other releases. The biggest challenge (aside from reducing that much music into eighty-one and a half minutes) was to deal with the fact that many of the cues as heard on the episodic CDs were very short, but I wanted the album to flow and not sound choppy. I toyed with the idea of combining pieces from different episodes into longer tracks, but, with the exception of "The Stuff of Stars" (track 2) I decided against this approach (although music from both parts of "War Without End" are incorporated into track 10), not so much because I didn't think it was a good idea, but rather because Franke himself did such a good job doing just that on the two full-length albums he produced that I felt no point in competing with him, and so my solution was to build suites out of individual cues.

I knew where I wanted to start and I knew where I wanted to finish, and that idea informed how the material in between would be structured (which, as usual, followed a 'side one/side two' format). In order for the finale to have the emotional impact I wanted it to, I had to establish that thread early on and follow it through. As a result, I found myself sometimes scaling back some of the big action moments in favor of more affecting music in order to earn the finale. That is not to say that there aren't some kick-ass battle cues on this album, however, just I was aiming to make a balanced presentation that would be satisfying as music as well as a representation of the musical voice of the series as a whole.

I have to credit glenniebun with invaluable assistance with regards to orienting myself with the program and the soundtrack album situation when I was first getting into the show, as well as David Goldfarb, who compiled the breakdowns of both the Babylon 5 Volume 1 and Babylon 5 Volume 2: Message From Earth albums.


    Side One

  1. MAIN TITLE (Overture in Three Parts) 3:07
    While it is not unusual for a television series to occasionally alter the theme music, generally such amendments are done to accommodate changes in the titles. Babylon 5 was unusual in that each season had a distinct credit sequence that reflected the overall tone of the season; this suite presents elements of the first season, third season and fourth season themes. I have never been particularly fond of the second season titles, which always felt a little overpumped for my taste, and so, this being my mix, they are not included here (the fifth season titles open "side two" of this album in an extended version). I have pretty much abandoned making index marks on my discs as I don't have a player that recognizes them anymore, nor am I aware of any (indexes seem to be a completely lost concept), but in this case I placed one at the transition points between the seasons just for the hell of it.

    • SEASON ONE (Signs and Portents)
      I started the track off with an edit of the "space" sound that opens the Season 1 titles; when the main anthem begins, I segue to the end title to allow for a more expansive arrangement of the piece; I then return to the first season main title, but a propulsive portion that was never released on CD and was obscured on DVD because of Michael O'Hare's opening narration. I got a clean recording by ripping the Dolby AC-3 track from one of the DVDs, demuxing each channel to a separate file and eliminating the center. This returns to the original released version of the first season title sequence, with a bit of the extended version as a "pad" to bridge to...

    • SEASON THREE (Point of No Return)
      ...a rousing fanfare for the White Stars announces the entrance of the season three titles, which rather than being just another variation on the anthem, instead uses the darker Requiem for the Line, reflecting the calamitous events of the third season. The Requiem was introduced in 'And the Sky Full of Stars' (track 8) and retroactively applied to the original pilot "The Gathering" when Straczinski re-edited it for TNT.

    • SEASON FOUR (No Surrender, No Retreat)
      The main anthem returns for the fourth season in a much more aggressive and commanding arrangement. This leads to a crescendo that brings the track to a satisfying close.

  2. THE STUFF OF STARS (A Distant Star · 204 / Soul Mates · 208 / Chrysalis · 122) 2:20
    This suite of music associated with Delenn (Mira Furlan) is, aside from "Babylon Prime" (track 10) the only original assembly of mine that contains music from more than one episode. A segment from "Soul Mates" and the discussion of 'star stuff' from "A Distant Star" were culled from "The Geometry of Shadows" suite on Volume 1 (the theme for "A Distant Star" is particularly attractive). The track closes with the eerie "I Do Not Have Much Time" from 'Chrysalis,' leading into...

  3. GHOSTS OF RALGA (The River of Souls) 4:30
    This telefilm outlining Elizabeth Lochley's (Tracy Scoggins) involvment in a Soul Hunter's (Martin Sheen) search for Robert Bryson (Ian McShane) and an artifact he had stolen from one of their temples was accompanied by mysterious music for the legendary Soul Hunters and the lost world of Ralga, whose souls they preserved just before their species became extinct. A dirge-like motif for the Soul Hunters is accompanied by a choir representing the unheard voices of the souls. The track was assembled from the cues "Soul Hunters," "Lost Souls of Ralga," and "Lochley Into Otherworld."

  4. BREAKING AWAY (Severed Dreams · 310) 4:10
    Horrified by President Clark's (Gary McGurk) order of the destruction of civilian targets in rebellion against his ever-increasingly totalitarian regime, John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) believes that he has no choice but to declare Babylon 5 independent from EarthGov. This track opens with a tender moment between "Sheridan and Father" as the beleagured military governor calls home possibly for the last time; his father (Rance Howard) encourages him to do what he believes in. The beginning of the inevitable conflict is essayed with militaristic figures dominated by a monolithic ascending motif and angry percussion. Elements of "Final Countdown" and "The Big Battle" are combined to create an intense action passage with a brief reference to the Requiem for the Line at its conclusion. This was one of the suites I had to impose a structure upon in order to get it to work in context of the other tracks; while I certainly wanted a taste of the battle, the focus of the track is instead the torn loyalties of the characters.

  5. A LIFE TOGETHER (Falling Towards Apotheosis · 404) 2:10
    After the tension of the previous track, this one stands as a sharp contrast. Sheridan is able to return from Z'Ha'Dum because he had "A Reason To Come Back" (there are hints of the main anthem in this cue) and "The Engagement Ring" is heard as Sheridan, aware that his life is now much more finite than he had imagined, chooses to spend what's left of it with Delenn. This piece was the last addition to the album.

  6. THE ADDER (A Late Delivery From Avalon · 312) 3:56
    This suite of music centers around Arthur/David (Michael York) and his tragic role as the triggerman for the Earth/Minbari war. A medieval flavor is established in "Arthur Helps Old Lady" which is continued in "'Sir' G'Kar." We take a right turn for the serious with "The Lady of the Lake," and the cue concludes with the forbidding "Arthur's Story Told." The track name comes from an Arthurian legend David tells to G'Kar, in which an act of altruism begins off a devastating war. This was the perfect segue into...

  7. THE BATTLE OF THE LINE (In the Beginning) 4:47
    A seminal moment in the history of many of the characters on Babylon 5 was the final battle in the Earth/Minbari war, when the Minbari launched an attack on Earth that the humans could not stop, only delay. Every ship that could fly was sent between the Minbari fleet and Earth to buy time for a planetary evacuation, a mission of certain death (of the 20,000 ships that were dispatched, only 200 remained at the conclusion of the attack) until the Minbari mysteriously surrendered. Until In the Beginning, the Battle of the Line was shown piecemeal through flashbacks, but it was depicted in full for the first time with this dire cue that reflects the desparation of humanity and the determination of the Minbari. The music is based on the Requiem for the Line, but Franke has deconstructed the theme and presents it here as though it were forming for the first time, with only one full statement.

  8. SINCLAIR REMEMBERS (And the Sky Full of Stars · 108) 1:49
    Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare) was one of the very few pilots left alive after the Battle of the Line, having blacked out as he was attempting to ram a Minbari war cruiser; he has been wracked with survivor's guilt for ten years. His memories of the missing time were rekindled when two inquisitors (Christopher Neame and Judson Scott) probe his mind to discover what happened to him during his missing time. This was the first ever full presentation of the Requiem heard on the show. This track was excerpted from the "Mind War" suite from Volume 1.

  9. KOSH UNVEILED (The Fall of Night · 222) 3:52
    Percussive action and nervous rhythms open this excerpt as a Centauri bomb goes off in Sheridan's core shuttle car. He is forced to jump from the shuttle but is about the be squashed by impact with the spinning ground, a moment scored with a sort of brooding urgency. A transcendental passage is heard as Ambassador Kosh (voiced by Ardwright Chamberlain) exits his encounters suit to rescue Sheridan. In this moment, a Vorlon is seen without his encounter suit for the first time (physicalized in this episode by Joshua Patton), and an important aspect of their nature is revealed; the music reflects what they represent to thousands of races across the galaxy.

  10. BABYLON PRIME (War Without End Parts I & II · 316/317) 3:59
    This was, without a doubt, the hardest suite to assemble; I kept revisiting it until there were a ridiculous amount of variations on my hard drive. It does stand to reason, however, that the result would be one of my favorite tracks on the album (it doesn't hurt that it was viewing the "War Without End" episodes that it became clear to me that I would, at some point, be making a Babylon 5 mix). Sinclair's return was the culmination of several storylines, including those introduced in "The Gathering," "And the Sky Full of Stars," "Babylon Squared" and "A Voice in the Wilderness." In keeping with so many elements of the first season being referenced, Franke based his score around powerful minor mode variations on the main anthem, which is showcased in an intense passage consisting of material combined from "Delenn Convinces," "Sheridan Captured," "Interception" and "Garibaldi Sent Home" from "Part I." We switch to "Part II" for the otherworldly "Sinclair's First Return" and the ethereal "Valen Appears" as Sinclair fulfills his destiny. The track name comes from the title of the concept for the Babylon 4 storyline to be a possible spin-off series.

  11. MANY PARTINGS (Objects At Rest · 522) 5:51
    This emotional suite is built around the farewells made in the penultimate episode; the title is an homage to Tolkein, a major influence on Babylon 5. We open with "G'Kar's Emotional Address." which is heard as G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas) passes his mantle to Ta'Lon (Marshall R. Teague), then segue into Delenn's final speech about "The Word 'Good-bye'" which then opens out into "One Last Look at the Place." This presents the theme that will be explored in the next and final episode "Sleeping In Light" as those who remain line up in C&C and salute their parting. At the conclusion of this track, we go back to "Franklin's Goodbye" to close out side one.

  12. Side Two

  13. MAIN TITLE (Season 5 — Extended Version) 3:31
    Side two fittingly opens with the noble theme for the Interstellar Alliance that was heard in the fifth season. While previous seasons were about conflict and war, this was about nation-building and so had a more optimistic sound than the previous title anthems, perhaps more evocative of Camelot than the Fellowship. I extended the opening with the exploration of the theme heard in the "Voices of Authority" suite from Volume 2: Messages From Earth. My original assembly was a good deal longer, but I realized that it was just too much of a good thing (although I have preserved that version because I liked it).

  14. THE ALIEN ARTIFACT (Thirdspace) 4:58
    The Thirdspace telefilm was Babylon 5's foray into Lovecraftian horror; a gigantic million-year-old object is found adrift in hyperspace. This suite starts off slow with "The Bizarre Object" and "Truth Is Inconvenient" gradually introducing the theremin and eerie motif associated with the relic (designed by Wayne Barlowe). Hints of its more dangerous nature are heard in the "The Black Tower," in which Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and Vir Cotto (Stephen Furst) share a dream of a distant city, and gets downright baleful in "Activated Artifact."

  15. NARN CRUSHED (The Long Twilight Struggle · 220) 4:08
    This pivotal sequence from the second season is culled from the "Z'Ha'Dum" suite from Volume 2: Messages From Earth, and I re-edited it to more closely follow the chain of events as seen in the episode. It begins as the Narns arrive at Gorash VII only to find that they have fallen into a Shadow ambush, and they are no match for the much more advanced Shadow vessels. Explosions of percussion and pseudo-brass (a portion of this sequence was adapted into the third season title sequence) are offset against a nervous motif as G'Kar prays, the cacophonous nature of the music reflecting the complete disarray that the Narns find themselves in. Gorash VII was only a decoy; Lord Refa (William Forward) has arranged an all-out Centauri attack on the Narn homeworld. Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik) watches in horror accompanied by a regimented fugue as his people bombard the surface with mass drivers, reducing great cities to rubble.

  16. A SUNDAY DRIVE (Sleeping In Light · 523) 4:03
    The final episode of Babylon 5 was one of Franke's finest hours, providing a score that is absolutely beautiful from beginning to end. Feeling the gradual expiration of his body as foretold by Lorien (Wayne Alexander), Sheridan gathers some of his closest friends from Babylon 5 together in "Old Friends." He admits to Delenn that night that he will be leaving to die among the stars the next day in "Good Night, My Love." Their final farewell is heard in "Only Memory," which features a yearning conclusion as Sheridan realizes that he has to leave now if he is to do so at all. This tender suite is called "A Sunday Drive" after the terms in which Sheridan explains his desire to be out in space when he finally expires.

  17. THE WAR (In the Beginning) 3:14
    The war between man and Minbari proceeds for two years. Londo reflects many years later how he admired them because even though they were grossly outmatched and their extinction was a foregone conclusion, they nevertheless fought until the very end. This track begins with hints of the main anthem, but soon becomes a Celtic-flavored homage to the human spirit featuring Uillean pipes. This introspective piece is accompanied by images of the Minbari's relentless destruction of Earth vessels and outposts.

  18. REQUIEM FOR THE LINE (Album Version) 4:15
    This 'concert arrangement' of the Requiem closed off the first American pressings of Volume 1 album (this is apparently the version that Straczinski preferred), where it was the final movement of "The Geometry of Shadows" suite. This presentation fleshes out the cue heard as "Sinclair Remembers" (track 8), and foreshadowed the third season title, much like the additional material that comprises the fifth season main title on this recording (track 12).

  19. THE DRAZI HOMEWORLD (The Ragged Edge · 513) 1:43
    Mchael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) is sent to the Drazi homeworld investigate a lead several mysterious attacks. This piece combines "Garibaldi Arrives At the Drazi Homeworld" and opening of "Garibaldi In Trouble," presenting variations on the descending motif with active harp rhythms giving the piece an exotic flavor. This theme would be heard again when Lyta Alexander (Patricia Tallman) and Stephen Franklin (Richard Biggs) return to the planet later in season five.

  20. THE MARKAB PLAGUE (Confessions and Lamentations · 218) 1:59
    This somber interlude, a quiet piece for guitar, was written for the scene in which Dr. Lazarenn (Jim Norton) explains to Franklin that the Drafa disease infecting the Markab had never been properly researched because those who had it were considered unholy by the dominant religious order of his people. As a scientist, he realizes that while sharing information with the humans is essential, he also realizes his people are facing extinction. This track was excerpted from the "Z'Ha'Dum" suite from Volume 2: Messages From Earth.

  21. INTO THE ABYSS (Z'Ha'Dum · 322) 3:48
    When Anna (Melissa Gilbert) suddenly resurfaces with an invitation to Sheridan to come with her to Z'Ha'Dum, he can't refuse the wife whom he long thought dead. But though he does go to Z'Ha'Dum above the protests of Delenn (and Kosh), he goes packing. He calls his White Star to crash into the Shadow City, setting off a nuclear explosion, while he is urged by what is left of Kosh to jump. The music in this excerpt builds upon the material first introduced in "Severed Dreams," here given a much more urgent reading.

  22. FOR THE FUTURE (Objects At Rest · 522) 3:28
    This track opens with the expansive "Minbar - The New Home," depicting Sheridan and Delenn's landing at the headquarters of the new Interstellar Alliance. While being much more upbeat than the previous track, it had similar sonic scope and works as a catharsis for the darkness. It then becomes quite intimate as Sheridan begins dictating a letter to his son for the day of his maturity — a day that, because of his drastically reduced lifespan, he will never see — in "Talking To the Unborn."

  23. THE DAWNING OF THE THIRD AGE (Into the Fire · 406) 2:04
    Sheridan with the help of Lorien and the galaxy's older beings confront the Shadows and Vorlons; "Now GET THE HELL OUT OF OUR GALAXY, both of you!" The younger races are now free to make their own histories without the influences of either. This marks the beginning of a new era, and Franke not only essays the sense of freedom this entails, but the relief that, while all may not be right in the world, at least the Shadow war is over. A quietly dignified rendition of the title anthem is heard at the conclusion (I had to correct for an odd fade-out on the original CD in order to include this track).

  24. DECOMMISSIONED (Sleeping In Light · 523) 3:32
    The album exits gracefully with this track consisting of two beautiful adjacent cues "Echoes From the Past" and "Dying Station." Sheridan is informed that Babylon 5 is about to be destroyed, which makes Sheridan reflect that he and the station are still connected; the characters bid farewell to this place that had been their home and where they experienced so much. J. Michael Straczynski turns off the lights and the station is demolished. The thematic material heard in 'Objects At Rest' (tracks 11 and 21) and "A Sunday Drive" (track 15) is now heard in its full form as the curtain gracefully closes on Babylon 5. Zack Allen (Jeff Conaway) states that they accomplished everything the set out to do. As Ivanova reflects:
    "Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don't, who will? And that strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us."

Choral Direction by DAVID FRANKLIN · Recorded and Produced by EDGAR ROTHERMICH and RICHARD ROTH Assisted by RUDY PANKE
Tags: babylon 5, christopher franke, film music, my mixes, science fiction

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