We get used to waiting as Doctor Who fans, don’t we? This past year especially has tried the collective patience of millions of us, as we’ve waited for the news of the new: new episodes, new specials, new Doctors. And also – almost as exciting – a new soundtrack. So, has the wait for 2 discs of Murray Gold’s music been worth it?
You certainly can’t argue with the quantity of Whooney Tunes you’re getting in exchange for your Earth credits. At 74 tracks (76, if you get it iTunes-ed into the Type 2 chip in your forehead), it’s the biggest album to date: an audio TARDIS. It’s a shame then, that someone forgot to put the newest version of the theme tune on. Perhaps the Memory Worm got loose when the track listing was being compiled…
Yet it seems churlish to complain when faced with such an almost overwhelmingly generous immensity of sound. As you wade through each note, each track, you start to see what a benefit a series of standalone episodes has had on the show’s musical continuum.
Gold transitions from episode to episode, era to era with effortless skill, maintaining his cheeky bravura style while capturing disparate experiences: from the looming terror of striding into a Dalek asylum to the ballsy fun of driving up the side of The Shard. Now and then you can even hear him time travelling back through his own musical history on the show: once or twice you’ll hear an old tune in new clothing, particularly in ‘Gunslingers’, with its Western take on Series 4’s ‘Hanging On the Tablaphone’.
Given ‘The Rings of Akhaten’s strong musical theme it’s unsurprising that the 10 tracks here are the standout of the album, sounding all the better without pesky things like plot and dialogue to get in the way of the choral oomph that Gold always does so well. It helps that there’s a talented bunch bringing it all to life. Underneath the melodies you can feel Ben Foster and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales giving it their all.
If you’ve been collecting Doctor Who soundtracks since the simple days of the Series 1&2 CD, this is another thrilling chapter in the Doctor’s musical journey, made more important by the knowledge Eleven’s song will be ending very soon.
As always, we at CultBox adjusted our bow tie, left our sonic death baton with Strax, and – with help from a panel of music experts including the Akhaten star god and ‘Cold War’s Ultravox-loving submariner Professor Grisenko – picked our 10 favourite tracks…
‘The Salvation of Kahler Jex’
Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western compositions strongly influence the 5 tracks from ‘A Town Called Mercy’ to the point of near-parody, and no more so that here, as the determined beat, guitar strum, woozy trumpets and choral ‘oohs’ are strongly reminiscent of a cowboy striding into town for a noon showdown. Also worth listening to is ‘Out West’, where Gold flirts outrageously with theme to The Magnificent Seven.
‘Take A Ride of Tricey’
You know that bit in Jurassic Park where Mr DNA is showing you how a ‘Dah-noh-sawr’ is made and John Hammond promises that there’s some backing music that’ll be added to it later? This would be perfect. It’s a little frantic, a little majestic, and appropriately enough, it’s from ‘Dahnohsawrs on a Spaceship’.
‘New York New York’
As we all know, the saxophone is the River Song of the orchestra – popping up occasionally to make things 200% more sexy and to flirt with the string section. And just as in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’, here River Sax is, slinking sensuously through the brooding dangerous strings and foreboding percussion.
‘Together Or Not At All’
Between this, Series 5’s ‘The Life and Death of Amy Pond’ and the Series 6 track ‘Loving isn’t Knowing’, Rory and Amy have cornered the market in dramatic heart-wrenching music for couples that Time conspires to tear apart. But why should they have all the fun? Crack this on in the background as you break up with your summer fling and – boom! – a suitably dramatic end to three months of necking in the back of the Odeon.
‘Bah Bah Biker’
Like the whistling in Series 3’s ‘Only Martha Knows’, there’s something strangely incongruous about the upbeat ‘bah bah’s, but it undeniably works, as does the inclusion of a siren in the background. Close your eyes, stand in front of a desk fan, and it’s like you’re clinging onto the Doctor as you race through central London. Not that we tried that or anything.
More on Page 2…