Doctor Who: The Rapture – music by Jim Mortimore

Doctor Who: The RaptureIn 2002, Big Finish Productions released The Rapture, a Doctor Who audio play which had the distinction of being the first professionally-published work by one Joe Lidster (who went on to do more for Big Finish before being snatched up by the BBC itself), and of being one of the most controversial things the company had produced up to that point. Plucking the seventh Doctor and Ace out of tea time TV and dropping them into a storyline at an all-week rave complete with sex and drugs was too much for some fans’ tender sensibilities. And The Rapture had some awesome music – real club music, not some soundtrack-composer-for-hire’s second-hand impression of real EDM. Composer Jim Mortimore, in addition to having written Doctor Who novels and audio stories in the past, had also enjoyed a second career, playing live music at raves through much of the 1990s. To say that The Rapture‘s music is merely authentic is probably underselling it. It’s the real deal.

In 2012, via Bandcamp, Mortimore released three CDs’ worth of music from an audio story (whose narrative running time was only enough to take up two CDs). Drawing from his ’90s recordings as well as concocting an entire CD worth of new music, and bringing collaborators Jane Elphinstone and Simon Robinson on board, Mortimore presented Big Finish with a series of pieces that would be excerpted as needed for The Rapture, with some music heard only briefly in the background mix at the story’s titular nightclub and with other pieces – the specially composed ones – more prominently placed in the foreground. A few Rapture tracks had previously been presented on a Big Finish soundtrack CD in the past, but were savagely edited down to two and three minute running lengths: most of the tracks in their original form run close to eight minutes long, and are better for it, with the melodies developing a bit more naturally. Tracks such as “Over Me” show much deeper layers and arrangements than the edited-down versions hinted at.

The “A Side” covers all of the music composed expressly for The Rapture, while the “B Side” tracks are the full-length tracks Mortimore presented from his ’90s work for inclusion in the background of several scenes. (Again, the average length is about eight minutes; most of the excerpts of these pieces in the finished audio play could be measured in seconds or maybe as many as a couple of minutes.) The “E Side” consists of downtempo tracks, one of them quite lengthy; whether the “E” is for “epic”, “ecstasy”, or “etheral” is up for you to decide.

4 out of 4Many times over the years I’ve dragged out that Big Finish soundtrack and its woefully truncated soundtrack for The Rapture because it’s ridiculously good music by which to write. Color me “E” for “elated” that the full tracks – and more of them – are now available. And gloriously, “Doctored Who” gives us the full-length rave remix of Delia Derbyshire’s Doctor Who theme. Whether or not the story of The Rapture is worth the listening time is something that’s still hotly debated in Doctor Who fan circles, but its soundtrack is undoubtedly worth the listening time for audiences far beyond Doctor Who fandom.

Order

    “Side A”

  1. Over Me (7:02)
  2. On The Beach (6:01)
  3. Rebirth (7:46)
  4. Brook Of Eden (8:07)
  5. Freestyle (6:34)
  6. Sorted (6:31)
  7. Jude’s Law (9:09)
  8. Pink Pulloff (4:52)
  9. Music Of The Spheres (6:10)
  10. Gloves Off (3:40)
  11. Doctored Who (2:10)
  12. “Side B”

  13. Kanhra (8:18)
  14. Udu (8:08)
  15. Uracas (8:16)
  16. Xanthulu (7:17)
  17. Mahser Dagi (8:07)
  18. “Side E”

  19. Sven’s Wrath (3:39)
  20. Radio Beach (5:32)
  21. Ice Floes At Twilight (35:20)
  22. Phases Of The Moon (3:58)

Released by: Jim Mortimore via BandCamp
Release date: October 28, 2012
Total running time: 2:36:37

Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures

Doctor Who: Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio AdventuresThe last collection to date of soundtracks from a single Doctor’s adventures, Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures puts together music from three of the 2001-2002 stories starring Sylvester McCoy. The music collected from each of these three adventures is pretty diverse – it may well be the only CD in my collection that has trance music, theremin and someone playing the spoons on the same tracklist – and it’s also a first in that it contains contributions from the seventh Doctor himself. But more on that in a moment.

The first seven tracks consist of selections from Dust Breeding, and they’re the only straight-ahead, soundtrack-ish cues you’ll find on this CD. In the liner notes, composer Andy Hardwick says he was trying to achieve a “breathy quality” to act as a motif for the dust, but as a standalone listening experience, it’s the moody piano work that stands out the most. The “breathy” synths, when they do appear, actually give the proceedings an almost dated sound.

The most surprising, and enjoyable, music included on this CD are the techno tracks from The Rapture, a story which centered around an Ibiza dance club of the same name with a sinister secret. The multi-talented Jim Mortimore, who has also authored and even illustrated Doctor Who novels from the New Adventures range, gets to work Doctor Who into his “day job” as a techno musician with some lively tracks; the various pieces of “source music” here are woven into a continuous suite whose component parts stand just as well on their own. I was really surprised by how good some of the music for The Rapture was. I also have to give mad props to whoever edited together the extended-length trailer for this story – normally I skip the story trailers because, well, I’ve heard the stories in their entirety by now at least once. I’m always up for listening to The Rapture‘s trailer again though – it’s that good.

From there we go into an all-out SF musical parody. I was particularly looking forward to hearing the music from the comedy story Bang-Bang-A-Boom! by itself, just to see if Russell Stone had worked any clever musical nods in there somewhere that weren’t immediately apparent under dialogue. If anything, Bang-Bang-A-Boom! stops just short of being a disappointment; while the story itself lampoons everything from Buck Rogers to Space: 1999, the music is decidedly more modern. Stone seems to be trying to make fun of the more droning passages of the music from Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, but he’s trying too hard, and winds up with music that, for the most part, is far more droning and catatonic than anything that the composers on either of those shows could’ve managed – sort of a case of okay, we get the 3 out of 4joke. Things are livened up considerably with the various entries from the Intergalactic Song Contest, featuring Mr. Sylvester McCoy on the spoons. (This may well be the only time that the Doctor featured in one of Big Finish’s soundtrack collections can be counted as a performer in his own right.)

It’s a bit of an uneven listening experience if one tries to go straight through it in a single sitting, but there are some individual gems in the rough on Music From The Seventh Doctor Audio Adventures.

Order this CD

  1. Trailer: Dust Breeding (1:35)
  2. The Sadness That We See In Him (2:52)
  3. Damien Unhinged / Mr. Seta Unmasked (5:43)
  4. Like A Tiger, It Toyed With Me (1:52)
  5. The Dust Belongs To Me! / No Oil Painting (4:42)
  6. Always Knew I’d Die On Duchamp (4:12)
  7. The Future Has Already Happened (1:09)
  8. Trailer: The Rapture (0:52)
  9. Maggie’s Music (1:47)
  10. Triangle Chill (4:04)
  11. Freestyle (2:50)
  12. Brook Of Eden (4:03)
  13. Rebirth (1:41)
  14. Sorted (2:07)
  15. Jude’s Law (2:56)
  16. Pink Pulloff (1:47)
  17. Crystal Devildance (1:08)
  18. Gloves Off (with Jane Elphinstone) (1:29)
  19. Trailer: Bang-Bang-A-Boom! (1:57)
  20. Welcome To Dark Space 8 (1:22)
  21. The Trouble With Dark Space 8 (1:58)
  22. I’m Just Not Like The Other Boys! (The Pits Of Angvia) (1:20)
  23. Dead Drunk (The Death Of A Scientist) (3:02)
  24. This Is The Denouement (Oh No, Sorry, It Isn’t) (2:30)
  25. That Peace Conference (2:50)
  26. When Gholos Attacks (0:45)
  27. That Space Battle (1:04)
  28. Galactivision (3:33)

Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 68:31

Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor Audio Adventures

Doctor Who: Music From The Sixth Doctor Audio AdventuresFollowing the success of its double disc compilation of music from the first four audio adventures featuring Paul McGann, Big Finish Productions decided that grouping its music compilations by Doctor and not by composer was the way to go. Hence, this collection of the original scores from three 2002 audio plays starring Colin Baker – two of which, musically speaking, were among 2002’s best.

Or maybe that’s three. I wasn’t that thrilled with Bloodtide as a story, but listening to the music by itself, I can see that I hadn’t given Alistair Lock enough credit for finding really obscure motifs to build the music around. In this case, he musically references the fluting three-note sounds emitted by the Silurian technology in 1970’s Doctor Who And The Silurians, as the bipedal reptiles are once again on the move in this story. Lock’s flair for making synth-orchestral textures sound realistic is evident here – it’s a very good listen.

Project Twilight‘s techno influence works well for that sinister modern-day story. As stand-alone music…well, if you haven’t already heard it and been enthralled by it in the context of the story itself, Jim Mortimore and Jane Elphinstone’s disturbing, heartbeat-and-piano-driven music may not do much for you. Even though I loved the music within the play, it could just be that all of the Twilight cues are too similar to one another to be heard all in one sitting. It’s good stuff though.

The One Doctor may just be Alistair Lock’s finest contribution yet to Doctor Who in its audio form. Cinematic and quirky, seldom have the music and the actors’ performances sold each other so well. One cue in particular, “The Cylinder”, strikes a dramatic chord powerful enough for any big-screen blockbuster, while others (such as the groan-inducing “Lonely Jelloid”) are hysterically funny, even when heard with no 4 out of 4dialogue or sound effects. If you think that the idea of listening to music from an audio-only drama production is silly, give The One Doctor a listen before swearing it off completely.

All in all, this just might be the best Big Finish music compilation yet. Highly recommended, along with Project Twilight and The One Doctor themselves.

Order this CD

  1. trailer: Bloodtide (1:04)
  2. Tried (2:57)
  3. Convicted (2:26)
  4. Into The Cell (2:31)
  5. Lost Brother (1:28)
  6. The Jailhouse (1:19)
  7. The Cave (1:20)
  8. Empty Cells (1:00)
  9. The Adult Myrka (1:16)
  10. Regressing Lawson (1:19)
  11. Deep Freeze (1:53)
  12. Goodbyes (0:49)
  13. trailer: Project Twilight (0:52)
  14. Bite Me (5:04)
  15. Corpuscle Free (4:39)
  16. Arrow To My Heart (3:52)
  17. Flow (8:41)
  18. trailer: The One Doctor (2:04)
  19. The Signal (1:12)
  20. Unheralded Arrival (0:40)
  21. Sokkery Celebrates (2:53)
  22. Doctor In The News (1:18)
  23. Banto’s Scam (1:23)
  24. The Two Many Doctors (1:03)
  25. The Cylinder (1:43)
  26. Finding ZX419 (2:15)
  27. Mel’s Christmas Story (1:31)
  28. The Assemblers (1:14)
  29. Challenge Mentos (2:17)
  30. The Lonely Jelloid (2:54)
  31. The Treasures (1:31)
  32. One Doctor Identified (1:09)
  33. Sally Meets The Fans (1:28)
  34. The One Doctor (1:11)

Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 71:36