Music By Murray Gold
Released by Silva Screen Records Ltd - April 27, 2018
Available from Amazon UK
It has been a while since I picked up a Doctor Who Soundtrack. Not really for any reason in particular, I just stopped keeping up with them after the Series 5 Soundtrack. I had really loved Murray Gold's work in the RTD Era, but while still shined through in the Series 5 set, I just found there were less tracks I needed to listen to over and over. I mainly liked the big themes, and I was less enthused by the run of the mill incidental music of a standard episode. I even started to go back and delete tracks of previous soundtracks as well. There is just too much music of a television series to keep up with. I like certain pieces of music quite a bit, but I don't need every single piece of background music from a decade's worth of TV.
And so, we come to the soundtrack for Series 9...and there is 63 tracks spread over four discs. For comparison, the first Murray Gold soundtrack, which was for Series 1 and 2, was just 31 tracks. And that was covering two whole series! This is just overkill in my opinion. If you are a completist, I can understand the appeal of having every single piece of incidental music the show has ever had on screen...but that has got to be a niche audience I would think.
In listening to this set, my initial plan was to listen to it all through, to not skip around and find what I liked as I have in the past. This time I was reviewing it, I couldn't just find the bits I liked and deleted everything else. And yet, there are so many bits of music that, while not awful, just didn't grab my attention that I just started to skip and skim, find bits that jumped out at me and forget the rest. I couldn't help myself. There are too many bits of music on this that so clearly feel as if they were in the show purely as atmosphere for the episode...but lacking the accompanying visuals, and the music isn't nearly as interesting.
That said, there are some great pieces of music in here, and I don't want this to be a knock on Gold, because I really have loved the music he has provided the show over the last decade plus. As a guy whose task it is to write a ton of different music for wildly different episodes week in and week out, the guy is just tremendous. The problem is less in the quality of some of the music, and more in the selection process for what ended up on the disc. There are bound to be pieces of music that were placed behind the Doctor and Clara walking down a hallway. And the music maybe added that layer the show needed in that moment, but it isn't terribly interesting on it's own. So why include that here? As I've said, probably for the completists.
The highlights on this big set include "Clara's Diner" (which is an electric guitar version of "Clara's Theme"), "The Bootstrap Paradox," and my personal favorite track from the set, "The Shepherd's Boy" which also accompanied the fantastic climax of my favorite episode of this particular season, Heaven Sent. In fact most of the music that connects to that episode is pretty good, but "The Shepherd's Boy" is the lone track in all 63 tracks that I can't stop listening to. I didn't realize it until now, but as much as that episode was Capaldi's tour de force, Gold was putting in some excellent work as well.
But again...this soundtrack is too big for me. I will probably delete several tracks off of my computer, keeping some highlights. I will definitely listen to "The Shepherd's Boy" many more times. If you are a big time collector of the music and really do want every little piece of music from the show, you will not be disappointed in how comprehensive this set it. But the more casual fans of the show's music may find it overwhelming, and will just want to sift through for the highlights.