Doctor Who: Devils’ Planets – music by Tristram Cary

Doctor Who: Devils' Planets soundtrackDoctor Who wasn’t just groundbreaking science fiction. The classic BBC time travel series was also the source and the inspiration for some groundbreaking music and sound design in its early years. A lot of credit can be given to Delia Derbyshire’s haunting arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme music, but often less praise is lavished on the incidental music, whose style varied wildly from composer to composer. But five weeks into the series’ existence, more ground was indeed broken by Tristram Cary, one of Britain’s pioneering trailblazers in the then-rarified field of electronic music. With oscillators, early synthesizers and other tools-turned-instruments at his disposal, Cary gave SF soundtrack music a new sound. Years before Kubrick threw heaping helpings of Ligeti musique concrete at us in the soundtrack of 2001, and long after the 50s sci-fi sound of the theremin had passed into clichè, Cary was paving the road that many future Doctor Who composers and even others such as Jerry Goldsmith would follow – the sounds of something truly unearthly.

The three scores featured on this 2-CD set are from 1963’s The Daleks, the mammoth twelve-week epic The Daleks’ Masterplan (which spanned the holiday season of 1965 and ran right through early 1966), and the 1972 Jon Pertwee story The Mutants. Cary also composed the pleasantly western-themed music for the miserably low-rated 1966 story The Gunfighters, which may be included on a later release, but the liner notes point out that the original music tapes of Cary’s score from Marco Polo (1964) are as lost as the video master tapes of the story itself.

The Daleks music is some of Doctor Who’s most distinctive and memorable music, due in no small part to the impact of that original appearance of the titular tin menaces and the fact that it’s one of the only originally-commissioned Doctor Who music scores to be reused for other stories later in the show’s history (though, for the most part, it pops up primarily in later Dalek serials). Track 16 on CD 1 is the sound of the Daleks to me. I first saw this particular story about ten or twelve years ago, but that piece of music has always stuck with me. It’s so sinister and so atonal and so mechanical, it could only be the Daleks. I also have to make mention of the almost feedback-like, ear-rending whine signifying the cliffhanger at the end of episode one – not only is it a defining piece of Doctor Who and TV SF history, it’s a perfect sound for that moment. There’s no way that this is the sound of anything even remotely good happening.

Cary’s music is more traditional for The Daleks’ Masterplan, with a small string ensemble and other more conventional instruments doing most of the legwork, with a few purely electronic interludes for “stings” and other dramatic moments. There are also some cues in this story’s section which are electronically treated – recorded first with traditional acoustic instruments and then given a suitably futuristic twist. Those weaned on the compositions of Dudley Simpson may find this story’s music more to their liking, though as the story wears on and the Doctor’s attempts to halt the Daleks’ disastrous time experiments become more desperate, the music becomes more electronic and less reassuring. And yet there are some lovely moments in there too, including the silent-film-style player piano source music for the comedic Feast Of Steven Christmas episode.

The Mutants represents a jump forward in time and technology, and perhaps the best comparison for this score is the music from its immediate predecessor, The Sea-Devils (whose entire score was previously released on Doctor Who: New Beginnings). Though it could be argued that The Mutants relies on more traditional rhythmic structure than Malcolm Clarke’s challenging Sea-Devils music, in many places it challenges some of the same expectations of tonality. The Mutants is, hands-down, easier to take in one sitting than Sea-Devils, but it’s still going to take a little time to get your head around it.

The excellent remastering job and extensive liner notes were both brought to us by Doctor Who music archivist (and, late in the series’ life span, a composer in his own right) Mark Ayres, while Tristram Cary himself held onto the tapes all these years, and performed some stereo separation on the Mutants tracks on CD 2. Some of the earliest tracks show their age a bit in their sound, but they’re cleaned up admirably and are very sharp and listenable. The whole collection is topped and tailed with the original 1963 version of the Doctor Who theme, and a few tracks of atmospheric sound effects by the Radiophonic Workshop’s Brian Hodgson are included as well: the trademark howling winds of Skaro, the droning boop-BOOP-boop-BOOP-boop-BOOP of the Daleks’ control room, and more. I remember questioning the omission of those two specific sound effects tracks from earlier Doctor Who music-and-FX collections, but this is the perfect place for them: they were worth the wait.

It’s very strange to hear in light of more recent Doctor Who music releases from the 80s, as the latter-day material follows more traditional musical structures, but you owe it to yourself to sit in a dimly-lit room and listen to Tristram Cary’s score from The Daleks at least once, even if you never take the CD out of its case again. This music is as integral to the history of the show as Delia Derbyshire’s arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme music. Who knows? If the right music hadn’t been paired to the right story, none of us would be remembering Doctor Who in its 40th anniversary year. Many people accustomed to the structure of western music will find the sounds forbiddingly foreign, but seldom has the music for a Doctor Who story been so right. A few fans complained that this wasn’t the 40th anniversary music release they wanted. They wanted 4 out of 4something more obvious, more musical: Logopolis, or The Five Doctors perhaps. But with the 40th anniversary DVD releases weighted heavily toward the 80s, and the Big Finish audio dramas leaning in the same direction, Devils’ Planets is the perfect celebration of where it all started. Listen with an open mind, and do a little traveling back in time of your own.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Doctor Who (Original Theme) (1:24)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 1: The Dead Planet

  2. Forest Atmosphere (1:08)
  3. Skaro: Petrified Forest Atmosphere (“Thal Wind”) (1:46)
  4. Forest with Creature (0:54)
  5. City Music 1 & 2 (0:56)
  6. Thing In Jungle (0:52)
  7. City Music 3 (0:43)
  8. Dalek City Corridor (0:59)
  9. The Daleks (0:33)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 2: The Survivors

  10. Radiation Sickness (0:52)
  11. Dalek Control Room (0:26)
  12. The Storm (1:27)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 3: The Escape

  13. The Storm Continued: Susan Meets Alydon (2:38)
  14. Inside The City (0:26)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 4: The Ambush

  15. The Fight (1:02)
  16. The Ambush (2:00)
  17. Fluid Link (0:26)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 5: The Expedition

  18. Rising Tension (1:18)
  19. Demented Dalek (0:22)
  20. The Swamp (2:31)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 6: The Ordeal

  21. The Cave I (2:07)
  22. Barbara Loses The Rope (0:17)
  23. Captives Of The Daleks (0:16)
  24. Heartbeats (Antodus Falls) (2:17)

    The Daleks (1963-64) Episode 7: The Rescue

  25. The Cave II (2:22)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 1: The Nightmare Begins

  26. A Strange Sickness (0:44)
  27. Kembel I (0:47)
  28. Sting I (0:05)
  29. Kembel II (0:17)
  30. Daleks I (0:41)
  31. Kembel III (0:26)
  32. Daleks II (1:03)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 2: Day Of Armageddon

  33. Daleks At The TARDIS (0:25)
  34. Zephon (1:32)
  35. Sting II (0:04)
  36. Pyroflames (0:25)
  37. Wall Of Fire (0:24)
  38. At The City Walls (0:37)
  39. Taranium (0:15)
  40. Zephon Raises The Alarm (0:40)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 3: Devil’s Planet

  41. Leaving Kembel (0:21)
  42. Acceleration (0:54)
  43. Zephon’s Demise (0:17)
  44. Desperus (0:46)
  45. The Screamers (0:20)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 4: The Traitors

  46. Leaving Desperus (1:25)
  47. Sting III / Requiem For Katarina (0:53)
  48. Bret Vyon (0:43)
  49. Traitor (0:55)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 5: Counter Plot

  50. Counter Plot (0:15)
  51. The Experiment (0:41)
  52. Molecular Dissemination (1:04)
  53. Limbo (0:51)
  54. Mira (0:47)
  55. Invisible Creatures (1:03)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 6: Coronas Of The Sun

  56. “The Daleks Have Won!” (0:34)
  57. Invisible Creatures Attack (0:55)
  58. Taking The Dalek Ship (1:36)
  59. A New Thread (0:13)
  60. Fake Taranium (0:25)
  61. Return To Kembel (0:26)
  62. Gravity Force (0:26)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 7: The Feast Of Steven

  63. At The Police Station (0:58)
  64. At The Movie Studio (3:10)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 8: Volcano

  65. The Victim I (0:11)
  66. The Victim II (0:09)
  67. The Victim III (0:09)
  68. Lava (1:01)
  69. The Monk (0:13)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 9: Golden Death

  70. Ancient Egypt (0:46)
  71. Dalek Time Machine (0:19)
  72. The Overseer and the Captain (0:29)
  73. Daleks At The Pyramids (0:16)
  74. Daleks Vs. Egyptians (1:02)
  75. The Doctor Searching (1:05)
  76. Escape (1:38)
  77. The Missing TARDIS (0:50)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 10: Escape Switch

  78. The Tomb (0:55)
  79. The Mummy (0:28)
  80. From Egypt To The Ice Planet (0:49)

    The Daleks’ Masterplan (!965-66) Episode 11: The Abandoned Planet

  81. Council In Uproar (1:03)
  82. The Core (0:17)
  83. Master Of The Universe (0:57)
    Disc Two
    The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66) Episode 12: Destruction Of Time

  1. The Heart Of The Mountain (0:36)
  2. Growing Menace (2:08)
  3. City Music (Loop) (1:43)
  4. The Time Destructor (5:17)
  5. The Destruction Of Time (5:18)
  6. Daleks Disintegrate (1:42)

    The Mutants (1972)

  7. I (0:47)
  8. II (1:02)
  9. III (1:00)
  10. IV (2:31)
  11. V (1:03)
  12. VI (1:56)
  13. VII (1:00)
  14. VIII (1:46)
  15. IX (2:41)
  16. X (0:53)
  17. XI (1:04)
  18. XII (2:31)
  19. XIII (1:35)
  20. XIV (3:31)
  21. XV (1:18)
  22. XVI (0:54)
  23. XVII (2:25)
  24. XVIII (1:36)
  25. XIX (1:05)
  26. XX (0:52)
  27. XXI (0:40)
  28. XXII (1:14)
  29. XXIII (0:54)
  30. XXIV (1:35)
  31. XXV (2:33)
  32. XXVI (0:46)
  33. XXVII (2:50)
  34. XXVIII (0:55)
  35. XXIX (1:39)
  36. XXX (1:28)
  37. XXXI (0:48)
  38. XXXII (0:51)
  39. XXXIII (1:09)
  40. XXXIV (1:44)
  41. XXXV (1:00)
  42. XXXVI (1:53)
  43. XXXVII (1:39)
  44. XXXVIII (2:04)
  45. XXXIX (1:58)
  46. Doctor Who (Closing Theme) (1:15)

Released by: BBC Music
Release date: 2003
Disc one total running time: 72:37
Disc two total running time: 78:02