Downtime soundtrackAt least two years after its initial release (and having passed on it then), I spotted this slightly obscure collection of music from a Doctor Who video spinoff (like Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans) and thought I’d give it a try.

No one ever said that every Doctor Who-related CD release was worthwhile. While there were some interesting ideas in the production of this soundtrack – not the least of which was the inclusion of actual stringed instruments, as opposed to the synth-strings which have served Mark Ayres and previous Who composers so well – it just seemed that there was an overabundance of production concepts and talent, and a lack of any clear direction in a musical sense. The main titles and the “Confrontation” track are two of the highlights, and frankly, it’s not difficult to stand out above the remainder of the largely forgettable and occasionally irritating music that fills out this CD.

There are some ridiculously short cues which add little to the overall musical landscape, and there are also at least one or two tracks which contain annoyingly shrill synthesizer sounds which create that painful harmonic buzz that threatens to summon every dog in your neighborhood at any moment. And perhaps the greatest insult is that, for a score which purports to contain real acoustic instruments, there are precious few of them to be heard. There’s a very nice suspense motif which sounds like it was played on viola, heard mainly in the first half of the score, and a few other examples of real stringed instruments, but for the most part Downtime is saddled with a helping of synth strings. Now, in the past, I’ve praised other Doctor Who composers and musicians for their innovative use of synth strings and string samples – more often than not, they were forced to fall back on synths for simple budgetary reasons. But to put a real stringed instrument back-to-back with a synth patch…bad idea. The contrast is immediately apparent, and the result makes me wonder if 1 out of 4the music budget ran out on this production as well.

Unless you’re a Doctor Who mega-completist (which obviously I am), I can’t honestly recommend this soundtrack. Even if you saw and liked the video, the soundtrack is hardly worth the effort to try to listen to the whole thing without dialogue and special effects.

Order this CD

  1. Introduction: Det Sen Monastery and Title Sequence (4:27)
  2. Astral Plane (0:56)
  3. Confrontation (2:04)
  4. Eerie (0:37)
  5. First Chase (0:36)
  6. Second Chase (0:15)
  7. Truth (0:34)
  8. Chase / Astral Plane (3:36)
  9. Brigadier’s Lost Memory (2:43)
  10. Intelligence (1:21)
  11. Message Understood (0:17)
  12. He Feel (1:14)
  13. Hallucination (0:16)
  14. Astral Plane (1:47)
  15. Travers (0:16)
  16. I’m Still Alive (1:40)
  17. Danny Was Right (0:32)
  18. Double Cross (1:23)
  19. Sting (0:06)
  20. Build-Up (1:02)
  21. Apparition (0:20)
  22. The Stranger (0:51)
  23. Realisation (1:46)
  24. Family / Yeti Themes (4:16)
  25. Approach (1:04)
  26. Single Sting (0:04)
  27. The Lift (0:08)
  28. Webs (0:05)
  29. Attack (0:46)
  30. Yeti March (2:12)
  31. Climax (0:27)
  32. Victoria (6:18)
  33. Family Theme (0:20)
  34. End Credits (3:10)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 48:18