“The Tripods” was a revolutionary cult TV series by the BBC, based on the science-fiction books by John Christopher. Although basically works for children, I enjoy both the show and the books now as I did in the late 80s, when German television (ZDF) aired the frightening vision of a future world, where mankind has been enslaved by extraterrestrial tripod entities but seems to live a normal medieval life. Too bad that Christopher's third installment was never shot.
The score was 99% realized on synthesizers. Unlike Christopher Franke's electronic work for the modern-day science-fiction series Babylon 5, Freeman's music - or at least the music for the first series (tracks 2 to 16) - relies to a lesser degree on atmospherical sounds and background noises, but rather on clearly identifiable, inventive melodies. Some of the existing special sound effects happen to be Tripod howls, by the way. The sound quality is by all means acceptable, but maybe not as sophisticated as Franke's. The original music of the series was remastered for this release in 1994, but still sounds somewhat “dated” in a sense.
The CD begins with the series' main theme, and ends with the closing theme (both extended versions). These tracks are essential for any serious Tripods fan, of course... Parts of the main theme occasionally crop up in the incidental music, too.
Upbeat passages, dramatic action (both in track 8), suspenseful moments (track 18), serene moods (track 10), and the spirit of adventure (tracks 3 and 9) - it's all there. Sometimes Freeman uses drums (such as in track 11), which seems quite appropriate and of course adds a certain “drive” to the music. The score seems best in track 12 (where Freeman employs mysterious sounding notes to create an uneasy feeling), in the first half of track 17 (a suite that comprises some anthemic tunes as well as more mysterious music) and in track 24 (a truely exciting and well-arranged composition).
Note Freeman's play on “free men” (a crucial concept of the plot) and his own surname in the track listing, where “free men” is written as one word.
This CD comes highly recommended for any fan of the series, of TV scores in general, or of synthesizer music with a certain “cult” factor.
Tripods Forum (in German)