BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 16 April 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Ruddock
BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21
Various Composers
(Tony Askew, John Baker, Desmond Briscoe, Malcolm Clarke,
Delia Derbyshire, Maddalena Fagandini, Brian Hodgson,
Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Dick Mills,
Keith Salmon, Richard Yeoman-Clark, Phil Young)
Originally released by BBC Records and Tapes, 1979
Reissued by Silva Screen Records
Available 22nd April 2016 (UK) / 29th April 2016 (US)

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop were always pioneers, sculpting sound from whatever they could lay their hands on at the time, and assembling it with miles and miles of tape. They were so far ahead of their time in 1958, that we’re arguably still catching them up in some ways.

They were also square pegs in the BBC machine. Aunty Beeb never seemed quite sure what to do with this ever-changing collective of jazz musicians, engineers, avant-garde composers, former continuity announcers, and other boffins - labouring away, creating impossible sounds sequestered in their studio at Maida Vale. Their status within the BBC was seen more as problem-solvers than musicians, so recognition from Top Brass as composers and innovators was never really forthcoming. Unusual sounds, and unusual methods were only part of the issue, the BBC at this point still had yet to figure out how to commercially exploit its product beyond overseas sales. 

Even the Workshop’s approach to celebrating anniversaries was unusual, BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21 is a 21st anniversary collection, originally released by BBC records in 1979. Records compiling some of the Workshop’s highlights had begun to surface in the early 70s, but this one, re-released by Silva Screen, was their first true retrospective collection.

The first half covers the ‘found sounds’ era of the Workshop - a collection of themes, interval signals, and sound effects. It opens with the ominous reverberations of Workshop founder Desmond Briscoe’s sting from Quatermass and the Pit - followed without warning by Dick Mills’ outrageous Bloodnock’s (sic) Stomach sound effect from The Goon Show. These opening tracks set the listener up for what follows. Briscoe’s contributions drop off as time goes by, but his presence is still felt. His sinister musique-concrete piece Stick Up is truly menacing. Mills stayed the course at the Workshop, and remains an integral part of their current touring set-up to this day. His contributions can’t be underestimated, and are fed throughout the album. His Fanfare sounds like it should be Alex’s radio alarm in A Clockwork Orange, while Martian March Past sounds like the Clangers mobilising for war.

All the tracks are short, designed to order for TV and sometimes radio, they don’t hang around. It’s slightly jarring at first to listen to as an album, but it doesn’t take long to adjust. Everything here is strikingly inventive, and although each of the 45 tracks is brief, there’s more sonic ingenuity, humour, and personality at work in these brief pieces than some artists manage in a whole career.

Delia Derbyshire’s work dominates the first half. Her seminal original arrangement of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme (paired with Brian Hodgson’s famous TARDIS dematerialisation effect) needs no introduction. Delia’s other work such as Know Your Car (where she turns a car’s ignition into a rhythm track), Talk Out (a collage of voices) and Great Zoos of the World (made using real animal noises) also sparkles and zings with otherworldly invention. Over the course of the 60s, she seems to push the envelope further and further towards ‘out there’. 

The other female ‘voice’ here, Maddalena Fagandini, has a very different sensibility, contributing charmingly plinky pieces based around signals and patterns - including Time Beat, later reworked as a single by a pre-Beatles George Martin under the alias of Ray Cathode. Amongst others, the first side also features John Baker’s bottle-chorale Choice, and his eccentrically catchy Hardluck Hall.

At the turn of the 1970s, staff turnover and new technology heralded a new era, as the closing track of the original side one - Dudley Simpson’s berserk synthesised cues for The Mind of Evil (realised on the Workshop’s new ‘Delaware’ Synthesiser), proves.

The second half is a collection of work from the synth era of the 1970s, featuring the work of Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke, and Richard Yeoman-Clark. Kingsland’s work is instantly recognisable, he’s perhaps the member of the Workshop with the most distinct style - melodic, florid, and somewhat languid. A Whisper From Space and Newton would both slot seamlessly into any of his Doctor Who scores of the 80s.

Yeoman-Clark gets just the one track, Mysterioso - a bit of atmosphere from Blake’s 7, which, although synthesised, is very much in the spirit of Derbyshire’s questing electronica, and Briscoe’s abrasive stings.

Malcolm Clarke’s Hurdy Gurdy, meanwhile, is unmistakably the product of the same mind between the nerve-shredding music from The Sea Devils - but his nondescriptly-named BBC-2 Serial is rather pretty.

Peter Howell’s Merry-Go-Round and The Secret War echo Maddalena Fagandini’s 60s work in their well-constructed melodic plinkiness. Howell tends to go to town more with layers and sounds, but it’s his Greenwich Chorus that’s the real stand-out - a choral piece with vocoders, which sounds like something a more focused early 70s Brian Wilson might have written.

Limb’s contributions are more variable. Swirley is cheesy synth-calypso, and Quirky is not so much quirky, as a bit annoying. On the other hand, The Plunderers is rather catchy, sounding not unlike the wonky Farfisa Organ-led indie pop of Metronomy, and his closing For Love Or Money is a sort of Third Man theme for synths.

This is 45 tracks of impossible sounds and the everyday twisted into new shapes, foreshadowing synth-pop, dance music, and the art-rock adventures of Bowie, Eno, and Visconti in Berlin. It’s the sound of mathematical precision meeting rampant creativity, perspiration, overheating synthesisers, cigarette smoke, and pressing deadlines. The Radiophonic Workshop are still going, at a boutique festival near you. Long may they bleep.


FILTER: - CD - BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Incidental Music - Special Sound;

Doctor Who Symphonic SpectacularBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 - Reviewed by Marcus

Cybermen invade the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular tour while Ben Foster conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC National Chorus of Wales. (Credit: House PR)The long awaited Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular has begun its week long tour of the UK in stunning style, with two magnificent shows at the SSE Wembley Arena in London. 

The show gives fans a chance to hear the amazing music Murray Gold has written for the series, played live by a full orchestra, and its an experience no fan should miss. 

The music is performed brilliantly by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, who have been playing the music on the Doctor Who soundtrack since Christmas 2005, and certainly know their stuff. Their very existence is a tribute to the diversity of the BBC and one which should be celebrated. The orchestra are once more under the sonic baton of Ben Foster, who has orchestrated many of the pieces for the series and who, as well leading the musicians, gets to battle a Dalek on stage. 

Peter Davison makes for an affable host, witty and entertaining as he guides the audience through the programme of events. He obviously enjoys the feedback from the live audience as he keeps the show bubbling along. Davison is in a unique position, being not only the fifth Doctor, but the father-in-law of the Tenth, a situation he uses for comic effect. 

The music is drawn from the past ten years of the show, with the various suites evoking powerful memories. The show starts with the Twelfth Doctor's theme A Good Man? before recalling the breadth of the series in Wherever, WheneverThe Companions features the themes written for Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy and the first act comes to a stunning climax with Last Christmas

Part Two kicks off with All the Strange Strange Creatures and The Impossible Girl before 66 Seconds gives the audience a chance to be frightened as a Foretold lurches its way around the arena. The Pandorica Suite is followed by the haunting Abigail's Song from A Christmas Carol which gives soloist Elin Manahan Thomas a chance to shine. The show concludes with This is Gallifrey from The Day of the Doctor and the Death in Heaven Suite

Of course, there is an encore, and it really is a case of saving the best until last when one of the most evocative, most moving pieces Gold has written for the series, Vale Decem, gets a well deserved outing, complete with images from the entire history of the show. 

The tingles really do flow down the spine at the climax of the show, when Foster leads the orchestra, conducting that iconic theme tune, first heard in 1963, and never sounding better than when played by a talented orchestra, in front of an arena full of adoring fans. 

The show continues at Wembley on Sunday, with performances following throughout the week in Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle andGlasgow. Ticket information is on the BBC Events Website.


Doctor Who Series 8 SoundtrackBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who: Series 8 Soundtrack (Credit: Silva Screen)
Series 8 Original Television Soundtrack (Music CD)
Available 18 May 2015 From BBC Shop and All Other Stores

With just a few months left before Series 9 of Doctor Who hits our screens in Britain and across the globe, there is a new soundtrack release once again from musician-veteran Murray Gold. This covers the many exciting stories of Series 8 (along with the last Christmas special).This release certainly offers quantity, with 68 tracks spread out on the  3 CDs, and for the very most part also is one of quality.

Having enjoyed Matt Smith's tenure for the most part - but finding it a small step down from the days of David Tennant - I often found myself tapping my feet to the pleasant harmonies Gold would come up with, but wondering if more scope could have been employed. This new collection certainly offers quite a bit more variety and is a great barometer of just how eclectic Series 8 has been. 'A Good Man?' is the new theme for the latest Doctor and is ebullient; seeming to represent the phase that 'Twelve' is going through as he comes to terms with his new identity and markedly older look for many a regeneration. It recurs throughout various other tracks in the collection and always feels like a 'punch-the-air' moment. My personal favourite variation on the theme is the shrill 'Free Fall' which reaffirms the Doctor's bond with the TARDIS and also has him performing a Superman-eque fall without batting an eye.

There is a generous allotment of music for the Series 8 premiere 'Deep Breath' an episode which I found watchable but forgettable compared to its bedfellows in the first third of the television run. However as we all now know the identity of the antagonist who presided over a surreal 'heaven' domain, it is quite rewarding to have her theme be established, then somewhat cast aside, only to be authoritively echoed much later on. Clearly Gold was clued into the Moffat Masterplan and such bonds amongst the production team are part of the reason Capaldi's debut worked so well.

Several episodes well enough but don't stand out from their music - perhaps the sign of a smooth integration, which was actually intended -- including 'Into the Dalek' and 'Flatline' For the most part though each section of tracks has something to offer, and can go from the darkest of moods to the most frivolous. As regards the latter, I particularly enjoyed the Robin Hood escapade themes again on their own. That episode will never go down in the Who hall of fame, but it stands up better than I thought it would, so all credit to Gold and his associates there.

'Listen' is probably the most cerebral of all the episodes Moffat was credite with writing onscreen, and often had some eerie silences and a bleak sense of foreboding. But once again Gold knew just when to flip the switch and give some more immediate atmosphere with gentle instrumental pieces. But when a bit of bombast and sheer electricity is the order of the day, then look no further than the music for 'Mummy On The Orient Express' and the Series 8 multi-part finale. As for the 'Last Christmas' sections - representing a Yuletide episode I much preferred to the 2012 and 2013 efforts - then Gold is very much at his peak level, relishing the twisty-turny narrative and disturbing themes that story so adeptly conveyed. As a result the third CD contains almost all the 'top 10' of the sixty-and-eight total.

Almost all the tracks deserve multiple listens to do them justice and they are easily recalled in a person's 'inner ear' without straying into the irritatingly catchy type of music.

This whole awareness and care/attention is commendable indeed, but probably no less than one would expect given the composer's pedigree and substantial experience on Doctor Who, a show so full of versatility nowadays, that I myself hesitate to use sc-fi/fantasy to label it.  

I would hazard a guess that the many Who aficionados out there confidently expect more excellence from team 'Moffat-and-co', as they to add more layers to the onion that is Capaldi's Time Lord. The soundtrack once again will likely rise to the occasion. .

FILTER: - SERIES 8/34 - Music

The Day of the Doctor / The Time of the Doctor - OSTBookmark and Share

Monday, 24 November 2014 - Reviewed by Phillip Serna
The Day of the Doctor (Credit: Silva Screen Records) The Day of the Doctor / The Time of the Doctor
Music by Murray Gold
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Conducted by Ben Foster
Silva Screen Records
24 November 2014
Available to order now from Amazon UK
On November 23rd 2013, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary with a stunning array of events culminating in the global simulcast of the much-anticipated story, The Day of the Doctor. In time for the 51st anniversary, Silva Screen Records has released an impressive 2-disc set of Murray Gold’s scores to The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor, the swan-song for Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. Since Doctor Who’s revival in 2005, Murray Gold’s music has grown as synonymous as the TARDIS and the Daleks – becoming as iconic as the experimental, electronic and chamber music from the show’s rich and varied past. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Crouch End Festival Chorus, and conductor/ orchestrator Ben Foster deserve as much praise as Murray Gold for what can only be described as a thoughtful and outstanding entry into the Doctor Who musical canon. The production on this release delivers nothing short of impressive, and on a purely technical level, this release will not disappoint even the most discriminating listener.

Looking backwards as well as forwards, Murray Gold’s score to The Day of the Doctor represents a culmination of the entirety of the revival-era of the show. Surprised by callbacks in the score, in ‘Nice Horse’ the cue opens with woodwind timbres evocative of Geoffrey Burgon as the Zygons are revealed. With greater use of synthetic elements throughout, there are a few calls back to the Radiophonic Workshop era, especially during ‘We are the Doctors’, ‘The Moment has Come’ and the ‘Song for Four’ that closes the story. For aficionados of leitmotivic film scores, Murray Gold delivers a rich thematic world for the Doctor. As war rages over the second city of Arcadia, strains of Gold’s ‘This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home’ from Series 3 can be heard punctuating the battle by the low brass. In addition to the thematic material representing the 10th and 11th Doctors, John Hurt’s War Doctor is represented by music associated with Christopher Eccleston’s damaged 9th Doctor. The use of U.N.I.T.’s theme from Series 1 is balanced well against music evocative of political espionage films, filled with electronic elements and suspenseful repetitive string ostinati. The theme for the Moment in ‘Who are You’ and ‘The Moment has Come’ incorporates elements from Rose’s piano theme from Series 1 as well as the novel use of reverse delay on piano and clarinet, a technique that Gold used to great effect in the Series 5 stories The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. The only unsettling or controversial moment in the score is during the pivotal ‘The Moment has Come’ in which the Doctor struggles whether to deploy the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Here, the music is filled with Middle-Eastern timbres, scales and microtonality punctuated by the icy timbre of the hammered dulcimer. A musical association between the story’s subtext of genocide and real-world violence is likely not intended, but does resonate beyond the score and the world of the fiction. Perhaps this encapsulates the strength of this score where popular music elements, electronic timbres, symphonic timbres, and non-Western timbres coexist in a series whose messages are primarily inclusiveness and pacifism.

While the cues ‘He Was There’, ‘No More’ and ‘The War Room’ are among the most exciting cues on the release, it is unusual that ‘He Was There’ differs from the transmission version omitting the choral elements - an interesting album variation. The closing ‘Song for Four/ Home’ is interesting in that it represents Murray Gold’s original intentions differing significantly from the transmission version of The Day of the Doctor. I, for one, would have enjoyed hearing both versions on this release, perhaps including the transmission version as bonus tracks on the second disk. The absence of Gold’s arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme that closed The Day of the Doctor, however, is puzzling but understandable if there were licensing issues with Ron Grainer’s theme through his publisher Erle Music/Warner Chappell. It is important to note that the Doctor Who theme, existing in various re-orchestrations by Murray Gold, have not been included in Silva Screen releases of Murray Gold’s scores since Series 5. The omitted opening theme, as realized by Delia Derbyshire, is still available on a variety of recent Silva Screen releases.

Despite these relatively minor criticisms, The Day of the Doctor remains an excellent release, if only slightly imperfect. The Time of the Doctor, however, succeeds a great deal in presenting a very different and cohesive musical narrative - marvelously balanced with the transformation of Gold’s ‘I Am the Doctor’ into a Christmas call-to-arms. The inclusion of sleigh bells, glockenspiel and celeste only enhances this magical Christmas-parable, filled with Ben Foster’s lush and cinematic orchestrations, with a sound mix favouring the low strings. The Time of the Doctor‘s score feels more intimate and personal, mirroring its sensitive and sentimental story. The differences between the constancy of The Time of the Doctor and the bolder experimentalism and scope of The Day of the Doctor makes for a multi-layered experience with its contrast set to 11 – offering many rewards upon repeat listens.

Highly Recommended. Rating 10/11

Dr. Phillip Serna is co-host of the Adventures in Time, Space and Music podcast.

FILTER: - 50th Anniversary - Music

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular - MelbourneBookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 February 2014 - Reviewed by Tim Hunter

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular
Music from the BBC Television Series
BBC Worldwide
Plenary Hall, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
1st February 2014, 7.30pm
Back in 2012, the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular proved immensely popular and successful at its first international outing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. So popular that the following year it went to Sydney, and this year, it has returned to Melbourne, and will travel to Brisbane in Queensland and then across the ditch to Wellington in New Zealand. In each city, it will be collaborating with their respective symphony orchestras. In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 people – ranging in age from eight to 80, if not even younger – at the Plenary Hall in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the concert was nothing short of spectacular. Not only was it a wonderful celebration of Murray Gold’s original music for Doctor Who, it was also a fitting tribute to the TV show that turned 50 last year.

This year’s concert was largely based on the 50th anniversary Doctor Who at the Proms. The majority of the music came from the last four years of the show, covering Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor. Conductor Ben Foster, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, kicked things off with the blood-racing theme for the Eleventh Doctor, ‘The Madman With a Box’, with vocals supplied by soprano Antoinette Halloran, and other recent themes soon followed, including a medley of the companions’ themes for Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy, ‘Abigail’s Song’ from the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol, the song from The Rings of Akhaten, Clara’s theme, ‘The Impossible Girl’, and music from The Name of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor.

It wasn’t all about Matt Smith though. The Classic series was well represented too. Of course, hosting the concert was Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, or Doctor 005 as he called himself. He was immediately charming, relaxed, funny and clearly enjoying himself. Throughout the evening, he slipped in witty asides about his time as the Doctor, and engaged in some cheeky repartee with Foster that at one stage involved a cricket bat, a bunch of celery, and a score for Earthshock – The Opera. Davison wasn’t the only Classic Doctor to have a presence. Via the marvels of pre-recorded video, the wonderfully barmy Tom Baker featured in two segments speaking directly to the audience, and there was also the nostalgic ‘Classic Doctor Who Medley’, with music from all seven Classic Doctors. Most memorable though were the groovy 60’s sounds of The Tomb of the Cybermen and the evocative score for City of Death.

Apart from the thrills and emotions of the live music, the other exciting element was – naturally – the presence of aliens and monsters roaming the auditorium and the stage. Like last time, this included Silurians, Cybermen, the Silence, the Ood, Vampire Girls, Judoon and of course the Daleks, playing it up with Foster as they took over the hall. But new and welcome additions included the new Cybermen from Nightmare in Silver, ther impressive presence of Ice Warrior Skaldak from Cold War, and the Whisper Men from The Name of the Doctor.

If there was one thing that didn’t quite live up to expectations, it was Gold’s new song, ‘Fifty’, a tribute to the 50th anniversary. While it’s a beautiful song, sung wonderfully by Halloran and tenor Paul McMahon, the lyrics weren’t particularly easy to make out. Just as well they’re printed in the glossy programmes! Overall though, it was a visual and aural triumph, a perfect tribute to Doctor Who and Gold’s music and received rapturously by the audience of fans and their families, many of whom came dressed for the occasion, despite the heat, with plenty of bow ties, fezes and a whole lot of Doctor Who t-shirts. The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular was an event that won’t be forgotten quickly.

FILTER: - Music - Event - Peter Davison

Doctor Who: Series 6 SoundtrackBookmark and Share

Monday, 19 December 2011 - Written by Stephen Willis
Written by Stephen Willis

Doctor Who: Series 6 Soundtrack
Written by Murray Gold
Silva Screen
UK release: 19 December 2011
One of the results of 2011’s split-season of Doctor Who was that there were double the number of “event” episodes – that is, season-openers and season finales. Murray Gold draws attention to this in his liner notes: “There were four musically challenging stories (first and last episodes always need a certain amount of extra impact).” I for one am very glad that Murray rose to this challenge wholeheartedly, because it has led to an outstanding album packed with a broad range of moods and genres (yet still following a single story arc), and one that will be a favourite of mine for a long time.

Disc One kicks off in funky nonchalance with some familiar chords performed by Murray himself on electric guitar. A casual but charged percussive riff joins in, before the whole orchestra explodes into a thrillingly revamped version of the Eleventh Doctor’s theme – “I Am The Doctor In Utah”. With track two, “1969”, we find ourselves in tense, mysterious “high noon” territory. The solo trumpet and the cloudy guitar dissolve into a magical, pained vocal as the Doctor begins to regenerate.

Another standout track is “Help Is On Its Way”. The musical tone of these first two episodes is very consistent, and here the guitar returns with a swinging riff, while violas and violins drive forward with that familiar semiquaver figure that dates back to Series Three and “All The Strange Strange Creatures”. Somehow swanky, somehow sleazy, the brass instruments slide and swing their way in, as we are introduced to Canton (the younger). The rest of the track is a subdued but forceful string and synth underscore, building to several peaks.

One of my very favourites, “I See You Silence” is the music from when River is cornered at the top of the skyscraper. The repetitive, taunting guitar motif at the start of the track perfectly echoes Canton’s sing-song call of “Doctor Song!” The track is a fuller mix than the version used in the episode, and features a funky, guitar-augmented version of the forthcoming “Majestic Tale”.

The Curse of the Black Spot’s offering is excellent; an ominous start, some swashbuckling action and an enchantingly sweet but deadly vocal performance as the Siren by Halia Meguid. Add to that some vigorous fiddling by Eos Chater, and you’ve got yourself the perfect score to a pirate romp.

The Doctor’s Wife also has a good selection of tracks, which work perfectly in the episode, which is perhaps surprising given the recording circumstances explained in Murray’s notes. I love the magical, lilting waltz of “My TARDIS”, but I was slightly disappointed that it was cut short, without venturing into the guttural cello and drum-machine vamp from Amy and Rory’s chase through the TARDIS corridors. I can’t complain though – there is enough terrific material packed into this album to more than make up for it!

That said, there is a lot of material from The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People – perhaps too much. The tracks from these episodes are all quite similar-sounding, and not especially memorable. That’s on first listen though – given time, I have a suspicion I will grow to love these tracks just as much as the others. The last track from this story, “Loving Isn’t Knowing”, is a suite containing some really great music: the vulnerable love theme with tearful violin; the gorgeously simplistic yet soaringly lyrical return to “Amy’s Theme”; the shocking and heart-wrenching music from the realisation that Amy is a Ganger; and the terrifying Madam Kovarian music as the real Amy wakes up on Demons’ Run.

The music from the mid-series finale, A Good Man Goes To War, is wonderful. It’s hard to believe that this is not the full orchestra and just a “good sized band”. “River’s Waltz” is gentle and sentimental, played on a detuned piano, here with more instruments accompanying it. At the end of this episode, when River reveals her identity to the Doctor, we aren’t told or shown immediately what the revelation is. However, from Murray’s music, we know it’s not a bad thing. As realisation dawns on the Doctor, gentle piano and cello melodies blossom into a beautiful, flowing tune, deepening in grandeur with horns until, as the Doctor inexplicably disappears in the TARDIS, out comes a majestic and moving reprise of the “I Am The Doctor” motif. The final track on this disc, “Melody Pond”, begins with a vocal version of River’s theme as heard in The Impossible Astronaut. The second half of the track is the theme that has accompanied River throughout the series; an emotional vocal with a repeating string pattern, ending with a soaring development and orchestral flourish.

Disc Two begins with tracks from Let’s Kill Hitler. “Growing Up Fast” is brilliantly nostalgic and frivolous, painting the perfect picture of the childhood of Amy, Rory and Mels. With its bouncing acoustic guitars, jumpy percussion and nursery-rhyme melody, it almost sounds as if it could be a theme tune from children’s TV.

The Blush Of Love” is rich and gorgeous. It sounds like a film score – the attention to detail is remarkable (I suspect credit is due here largely to Ben Foster’s orchestration). I particularly like the way the melody passes between the oboe, flute and violin.

Terror of the Reich” begins with a bombastic Nazi march. The second half of the track is excellent – a little bit Bond. The bopping drum machine and quirky woodwind perfectly capture the twee-ness of a robot operated by lots of miniature people!

Mark Gatiss’ Night Terrors was the first time we heard the “Tick Tock” theme, presented mainly instrumentally in this episode. There’s something very scary about simple child-like music, particularly as it gradually, barely-perceptibly, gets faster throughout the track, as if it’s liable to go out of control.

The sound-world of The Girl Who Waited was one of slightly out-of-tune electronic sounds, as exemplified in the first track, “Apalapucia”. This was perfect for the strange, clinical setting and the slipping of time-streams. “Amy’s Theme” returns in “36 Years”, in a reflective acoustic guitar version. I can’t hear this track without remembering the glum-looking Rory skipping along to it!

If you thought the sounds of The Girl Who Waited were weird, they’re nothing compared to The God Complex. Murray says in his notes that they decided to go for an electronic score to “emphasise the crooked angles and giddy mixture of merriment and terror portrayed in the episode”. This definitely worked. The result is disorienting, very scary, slightly ironic and just fantastic. That said, I don’t think the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra will be attempting it any time soon!

Gareth Roberts’ Closing Time was a superb follow-up to 2010’s The Lodger. Motifs from the earlier episode returned, such as “You Must Like It Here”, which shows up in “Stormageddon, Dark Lord Of All”, and “Thank You Craig”, which is echoed in “Fragrance”. The sound of Closing Time is much more filmic, and somehow weightier; it really feels as if we are revisiting the world of The Lodger but with a fresh approach, and, of course, the shadow of the Doctor’s oncoming death looming over.

The final episode of the season, The Wedding of River Song, opened with a bang. A montage showing “all of time” happening at once was accompanied by an epic rock track, “5:02 PM”, featuring a loud choir, electric guitars and saxes. In “Forgiven”, the theme from “Melody Pond” (also foreshadowed in Series Five’s “A River Of Tears”) comes to a breathtaking resolution, breaking into a reprise with similar orchestration to “The Sad Man With A Box”. “Time Is Moving” is a funky, jazzy riff on the Eleventh Doctor’s theme, with locomotive-style percussion (appropriate to its usage in the “train-office” scene near the beginning of the episode). The episode’s namesake track is a final reflection on River’s theme, building to darkly emotional horns and gentle flutes and glockenspiel. After a rock interlude, we hear a brief nod to Amy’s child theme, on a beautiful solo flute (in fact lifted from “Amy’s Starless Life”).

And yes – the very last track was put in at the special request of the many Twitter users who asked for it. Murray is quite right – it’s a fitting end to the album, and encapsulates all we love about the Eleventh Doctor and his adventures.

The overall tone of this album is much subtler than any of the previous Doctor Who soundtrack releases. It covers a wide spectrum, but it definitely feels consistent. The music of Doctor Who has been becoming more and more filmic since 2005, and this album is the absolute pinnacle on that front. I look forward hugely to hearing what Murray Gold comes up with for the next series!

Stephen Willis is the creator of The Doctor Who Fan Orchestra. You can read his review of the Series 5 soundtrack here.

FILTER: - Series 6/32 - Music - Eleventh Doctor