by Christopher Coleman
German composer Christopher Franke has been around the music
scene since the early 1970’s. As
a member of Tangerine Dream he entered the film music world for such films
as Legend, Firestarter, and Risky Business.
The 1990’s welcomed Franke as a solo composer of both New Age,
and television and film music. He
has produced upwards of twenty soundtracks and other recordings, including
the ever-popular music from the Babylon 5 series and Universal
Soldier. The year 2000
also finds him particularly busy with scoring assignments for Showtime’s
The Outer Limit series, TNN’s new series 18 Wheels of Justice,
and several new disc releases: Epic,
Earthtone Collection 2, and New Music for Films Volume 2.
Franke’s label, Sonic Images follows up the 1996
Volume 1 re-release of film music selections from Eye of the Storm, McBain, and She
Woke Up, with an all new volume. Christopher
Franke: New Music for Films Vol. 2, is further demonstration of Franke being
one of the better composers who rely heavily upon synthesizers.
With selections from some of his more recent works: Tarzan and
the Lost City, Solo, The Inheritance, Terror in the
Mall, and Pacific Blue, this compilation demonstrates the
composers ability to get all the emotion possible out of his choice of
synthesizers. Also featured in these performances is the Berlin Symphonic Film
Orchestra, which the composer also founded.
This release presents a large selection of music from each
of the previously mentioned films and television shows; however, instead
of being grouped into suites of each, the tracks have been ordered to
provide for the best listening experience.
Since the style of the selections are all from the same
synthetic-family, this sort of track mixing works well. In
fact, many of the tracks blend from one to the next…making it difficult
to discern when the tracks have actually changed.
difficulty presented by this release is simple. The medium chose to
convey the music just doesn't do the actual music justice. Many film
music fans shiver at any score that includes heavy synth-work, and, many
times, with good reason. There are a select few who truly make
the use of synthesizers an actual strength of the composition. How
many times have we said to ourselves or posted on a select message board,
"The music is okay, but how much better it would have sounded with a
full orchestral performance?" Such is the case with this
release. To his credit, though, Franke's compositions are very enjoyable and
he does make the most of the synthesizers he has chosen to convey his
Christopher Franke demonstrates his talents for musical
composition in a variety of
ways. First, he shows his ability to
craft memorable and emotional themes in such tracks as Opening
1), Dance Lesson (track 13), and Finale (track 16). Second,
tracks such as , The Dam Breaks (track 6) and Escape (track 8) showcase
Franke's ability to compose the action/suspense cue .
Third, the selections from The Inheritance provides us with the
most upbeat and positive music of the CD:
Morning Ride, Dance Lesson, and The Race.
Franke also shows a dark-side akin to Mark Snow's works, in Damaged Goods
and Near Death.
This release contains primarily synthesized music as
performed by Franke and it is not easy to find
the contributions of the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra. Christopher Franke certainly has great talent in composing.
While synthesizers may not be the best way to showcase his talent,
Franke does draw
all the emotion that can be drawn from digitally produced music, aside from going the
Hans Zimmer sythensizer-route. The “artificiality” of the sound
can be forgotten if one really focuses on the
themes that Christopher Franke has audibly sculpted.