[Babylon 5]

Nathan Mates' Babylon 5 Pages

Review of the B5 LE Soundtrack

I just picked up the B5 CD of the Season 1 soundtrack, limited edition today at LosCon. (Number was upper 100s out of 2000)

I like it.

I really like it.

Go buy it mailorder. :)

This is a CD to show off your soundsystem with, and impress your neighbors with. It sounds great at normal volume, but when you crank the volume (and especially the bass), it gets better. Don't bother with headphones for the full feel of it; if you can't feel it in your bones, you're missing something :) Especially in the opening tracks, this is one high-energy CD that just rocks.

A lot of themes from Season 1 are included, namely the opening titles, the Battle of the Line, and some music from Chrysalis: the Chrysalis and the shadow 'theme'. There are 9 tracks, arranged as follows:

1-4 Chrysalis (18:22)
5-6 Mindwar (6:14)
7-9 Parliament of Dreams (18:04)
The track listings are deceptive to anyone trying to associate that episode title with the music from that episode. Please not that this is not simply the music from the episodes thrown onto a CD. The pieces have been remixed, orchestrated, and other really nice stuff. Contrary to the impression I got from someone else on this newsgroup, there is no 17-second track with the background noises from Kosh's voice; it is in the middle of track 1.

The CD case and booklet (12 pages including front/back) are mostly filled with B5 shots and all. There's a 2-page blurb from JMS, 1 page of the text of the Season 2 cast list ("Starring Bruce B... and Peter Jurasik as Londo" and a page of music credits and thanks. The rest are gorgeous shots of B5 and the characters. These pictures are just calling out for the 600 dpi scanner in a nearby computer lab. :) For those of you who miss him, N'Grath made it on one page.

Below is a description of each track in turn; you may want to remain unspoiled.

Track 1 should be used to demo high-end sound systems; it's awesome. The tension, energy and effects just reach out and grab you by the throat, and make you listen. It's got a 40 second 'combatish' (this theme's been used many places) music, then melds into various themes, including the opening theme. At 2:30 into the track, the shadowship attack from Chrysalis is cut in, then fades back into the opening theme. The juxtaposition of the ["last, best hope for peace"] B5 theme and shadow [the opposite?] theme is striking.

Track 2 has a rmix of the many "Crash!" sorta noises used a lot of times to musically separate various scenes (like when the camera cuts to a rotating B5), and other things. Definitely not a track you can fall asleep to. The 'heartbeat' motif in music is used a lot [da-dump. pause. da-dump. pause...] Again, the music builds to a point, pauses for a second, and heads off on a new direction within the track. I might prefer a few more track breaks now and then, rather than putting lots of things into one track.

After such breaks (pauses inside tracks, varying themes) one almost doesn't notice when the track actually does change; it's in the middle of something. The track starts slowly, then moves back into the battle & tension music.

The music definitely slows down in track 4. We get what I term "Adira's Theme" from Born to the Purple, the slow-moving dreamy theme. (For some reason, this music also makes me think of Sinclair and Sakai in Chrysalis). A slow, evocative track with almost no breaks or changes like 1-3.

Track 5 has 2 minutes of more filler music (stuff I really can't pinpoint which episode, and it hasn't stuck in my mind). When the 'heartbeat'motif comes back in, you know something's up. At 2:00 into the track, The Battle of the Line theme comes in. This is simply the best piece of music I've heard in the past year or more, and it's nice to give it its full treatment in one shot, almost exactly as I remember from ATSFOS (including the sorta resolution and offrun as Sinclair's dragged inside the Minbari cruiser). According to my videotapes, this actually happend in "And the Sky Full of Stars", not "Mindwar" as the track's title indicates. Maybe the track titles are episode titles intended for meaning, not their episodic content.

Track 6 is back to the stressful combat or situation music, once again with echoes (or just the feeling) of the the Battle of the Line and the opening theme.

Since it's been a while since I watched PoD, I don't exactly recall whether the music from it is actually in the tracks to which it's attributed. In any case, the PoD tracks definitely follow the more 'dreamy' attitude of the title, not G'Kar waking up to the black rose. [And I don't mean Kodachi :)] But, the martial music pops up again in a few places, fading in and out of things. Did I mention that I love the shadow introductory 'pattern' ("*WHAM*") :)

Track 8 has a saxophone (or saxophone cousin, electronic or real) playing some theme I really don't recognize. Jazzy, slightly upbeat. The rest of the tracks are more backgroundish music; they didn't grab me the way the first few did.

In short, my recommendation is that if you liked the music on B5 this past season, you're going to LOVE this CD. Go buy it! (Sorry I don't have the address handy; maybe one of you could repost it)

This review copyright (c) 1994 by Nathan Mates. Any non-electronic redistribution (except for personal use) is prohibited without prior consent.