Doctor Who: Series 8 – music by Murray Gold

Though Matt Smith’s first season seemed to take a momentary sidestep into sounds inspired by Doctor Who’s radiophonic, synth-heavy past, the musical paradigm for the new Doctor Who series’ first decade has always been John Williams: big, unapologetically brassy action music, widescreen action cues, and heavy choral doom when the occasion demands.

Peter Capaldi’s first season, however, seems to mark a major turn left (sorry, had to) for new Doctor Who’s musical style: the paradigm has shifted from Williams to a Hans Zimmer-inspired sound, more reliant on synths and urgent low cello ostinatos. There are still brassy action scenes, but they’re brassy in a different way than before. Several cues seem to echo Doctor Who’s 1980s sound, including the new theme tune arrangement (included here in a full-length version).

A suite of themes and variations of the musical signature of the new Doctor proves to be more introspective than the popular, in-your-face bombast of “I Am The Doctor” (a running theme throughout Matt Smith’s tenure). Inexplicably missing is Foxes’ unexpectedly catchy big band cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” – a musical highlight of the season that could have served as a single to 3 out of 4raise this collection’s visibility. (Only an instrumental version is available…and even then, only as a bonus track on the download version, not on CD.)

The first two CDs cover the entirety of Capaldi’s freshman year in the TARDIS, while the third presents virtually the complete score of his first Christmas special, Last Christmas.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Doctor Who Theme (01:17)
  2. A Good Man (Tweleve’s Theme) (07:34)
  3. Something It Ate (02:40)
  4. Concussed (03:28)
  5. It’s Still Him (02:00)
  6. Pudding Brains (05:27)
  7. Breath (04:45)
  8. Hello Hello (03:17)
  9. Drink First (02:02)
  10. Aristotle We Have Been Hit (01:00)
  11. We’re Still Going To Kill You (03:56)
  12. Tell Me, Am I A Good Man? (04:04)
  13. Blue Rescue One (01:38)
  14. What Difference A Good Dalek (03:32)
  15. The Truth About The Daleks (02:08)
  16. You Are A Good Dalek (01:49)
  17. Old Fashioned Hero (02:16)
  18. This Is My Spoon (02:07)
  19. Robert, Earl of Loxley (02:00)
  20. The Legend of Robin Hood (02:18)
  21. Robin of Sherwood (03:15)
  22. The Golden Arrow (01:37)
  23. Listen (02:25)
  24. Rupert Pink (03:57)
  25. Fear (02:47)
    Disc Two

  1. The Architect (01:28)
  2. Rob The Bank (00:59)
  3. Account Closed (02:09)
  4. Open Up (02:07)
  5. The Caretaker (05:16)
  6. Missy’s Theme (01:34)
  7. Hello Earth, We Have A Terrible Decision To Make (00:54)
  8. Are You Going To Shoot Me? (01:57)
  9. When I Say Run (01:46)
  10. They’ve Been Here The Whole Time (02:48)
  11. That Is The Moon (02:02)
  12. NASA Is That Way (01:00)
  13. Start The Clock (01:33)
  14. There’s That Smile (02:24)
  15. The Sarcophagus Opens (03:59)
  16. The Artefact (02:05)
  17. Study Our Own Demise (02:13)
  18. Not Knowing (03:01)
  19. Siege Mode (01:27)
  20. In The Woods (02:22)
  21. We Weren’t Asleep That Long (01:03)
  22. The Song of Danny and Clara (02:41)
  23. Forgetting (01:46)
  24. Throw Away The Key (04:15)
  25. Browsing (02:23)
  26. Missy Theme Extended (02:06)
  27. Heaven (01:30)
  28. They Walk Among Us (02:21)
  29. There is No Clara Oswald (01:00)
  30. Missy And Her Boys (01:18)
  31. Freefall (01:41)
  32. Need To Know (05:00)
  33. Missy’s Gift (02:04)
  34. (The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot With Box (02:22)
    Disc Three: Last Christmas

  1. Perfectly Ordinary Roof People (04:21)
  2. Unsealing The Infirmary (02:47)
  3. Ghosts (01:53)
  4. What Seems To Be The Problem (01:08)
  5. We Don’t Know What’s Real (02:34)
  6. Thinking About It (01:16)
  7. Clara’s Dream Christmas (03:57)
  8. The Doctor’s Dream Christmas (05:33)
  9. Dreams Within Dreams (04:51)
  10. Believe In Santa (01:31)
  11. Sleigh Ride (02:48)
  12. Reunion (03:12)
  13. Every Christmas Is Last Christmas (03:49)

Released by: Silva Screen Records
Release date: May 26, 2015
Disc one total running time: 1:12:54
Disc two total running time: 1:14:01
Disc three total running time: 39:27

Torchwood: Children Of Earth – music by Ben Foster

Torchwood: Children Of EarthFor the truncated (five episodes airing on consecutive nights in a single week) third season of Torchwood, the series delved into some very dark territory, and composer Ben Foster, already entrenched as the de facto maestro of Torchwood’s quirky earthbound adventures, seems to have relished the opportunity. The music of the five-episode Children Of Earth event has no problem going dark. Foster sets up several themes early on (including one for Ianto), while also building on some of the themes established in previous seasons (particularly the Captain Jack theme).

The early tracks seem like business as usual, but “We Are Coming” is a discordant, snarling wake-up call that accompanies one of the creepiest scenes in the entire five-hour cycle. It’s not a piece of music you need to be listening to in a dark room at two in the morning. The tension quickly ratchets up from there; the climax of the first episode leads into several tense action cues from the second episode, punctuated by the slightly-out-of-sequence cue “Gwen’s Baby”. A very brief “Ianto Jones” theme is established here as well, which is developed more fully later in “The Ballad Of Ianto Jones”.

Much of the soundtrack is taken up by the show’s musical action set pieces, with slower moments only occasionally getting the spotlight if they’re major scenes, including a lovely operatic theme that appears in the fourth and fifth episodes. For the most part, the music is sequenced in order of appearance, from the beginning of Day One to the end of Day Five, but there are a few out-of-sequence tracks (at least in the digital download edition of the album).

If I have one nit to pick with Children Of Earth from a musical standpoint, it’s actually a nit that I have to pick with the music of both Torchwood and Doctor Who: the reliance on the orchestra-playing-to-a-rock-beat sound has been stretched about as far as it can possibly go on either show. As the orchestrator for Murray Gold on Doctor Who, Ben Foster has a strong influence on both shows’ sounds, but whoever the architect of the “Who universe rock orchestra” sound is, they should know that the sound has reached its peak…and isn’t too far from reaching its nadir.

4 out of 4Children Of Earth is a fine soundtrack, and damned unnerving in places. In rewatching the episodes, it becomes obvious how much of the story’s impact is down to the music, and quite a bit of the music stands alone nicely as well. If there’s any more story to tell with Torchwood (the ending of the season leaves the notion of picking up the story more than a little ambiguous), it’d be nice if both the storytelling and the music could stay at this level.

Order this CD

  1. The First Sacrifice (1:25)
  2. What’s Occurring? (2:10)
  3. Jack’s Daughter (1:28)
  4. Diplomatic Cars (1:20)
  5. We Are Coming (1:12)
  6. Thames House (1:53)
  7. Double Crossed (1:26)
  8. Countdown To Destruction (1:52)
  9. The Crater (1:00)
  10. Torchwood Hunter (1:42)
  11. Gwen’s Baby (1:03)
  12. On The Run (1:13)
  13. Jack In A Box (1:34)
  14. Ianto Jones (0:50)
  15. Tractor Attack (2:21)
  16. Resurrection (1:11)
  17. Clement MacDonald (2:05)
  18. Something’s Coming (1:35)
  19. Eye Spy (1:20)
  20. Trust Nobody (1:46)
  21. The World Looks To The Skies (2:10)
  22. Jack’s Secret (1:36)
  23. Clem Remembers (1:34)
  24. Judgement Day (4:05)
  25. Requiem For The Fallen (1:23)
  26. The Ballad Of Ianto Jones (4:36)
  27. The Final Day (0:40)
  28. Calm Before The Storm (3:22)
  29. Phase Two Has Begun (1:50)
  30. Requisition 31 (2:38)
  31. He Was A Good Man (1:39)
  32. The Children Of Earth (3:27)
  33. Breaking The Connection (2:25)
  34. Fighting Back (2:02)
  35. Run For Your Lives (1:13)
  36. Sacrifice And Salvation (1:39)
  37. Redemption (3:13)
  38. I Can Run Forever (3:28)
  39. Here Comes Torchwood (2:24)
  40. Next Time On Torchwood (0:31)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 77:21

Note that the above tracklist reflects the digital download edition of the album, and the running order may be different for the CD.

Torchwood – music by Ben Foster & Murray Gold

Torchwood - music by Ben Foster & Murray GoldFeaturing the darker, moodier music of Doctor Who’s darker, moodier and decidedly more “adult” spinoff, the Torchwood soundtrack album is full of surprises, but some listeners may be dismayed to find that part of the surprise is what isn’t on it.

From the beginning, Torchwood’s musical score has been the work of two composers, Doctor Who maestro Murray Gold and Ben Foster, who has served as his orchestrator for several years. Foster steps into the limelight here, as the Torchwood CD concentrates almost entirely on his work. However, what this means is that some of the most recognizable pieces of music associated with Torchwood are missing from the album. Many of Gold’s themes, established in the series premiere, were reused throughout season one, and they’re absent from the album, including the drum beat lead-in to the opening teaser (over which John Barrowman explains the show’s premise), and an energetic, pulsating theme that often accompanied the appearance of the team’s trademark black Land Rover in season one. There’s one suite of music from the premiere episode, Everything Changes, and it’s hardly the most striking music from that episode.

What is on the CD is no slouch, mind you; there isn’t anything that’s so bad that I’m reaching for the skip track button. But sometimes it all seems to blend together – there are lengthy stretches of fairly similar music that reach across several tracks. There are some standout cues: “Sleeper”, “Look Right, Then Leave” and the one-two punch of “Jack Joins Torchwood” and “Captain Jack’s Theme” are action-oriented highlights. The best of the lower-key fare includes “Out Of Time”, “Owen’s Theme” and the eerie back-tracked piano work on “Pearl And The Ghost Maker.” Some pieces, like “Into The Hub”, straddle the fence between gentler orchestral music and the show’s trademark electro-inspired action music. A nicely expanded version of the Torchwood theme (which is almost painfully short on TV) rounds out the collection.

Compositionally, there are some incredibly clever things about the music from Torchwood – in the track “Owen Fights Death”, it’s possible to hear how the themes for the various characters are in a common key, making it possible to interweave the themes for Jack and Owen in this track, or the themes for Owen and Toshiko in “Goodbyes”. Toshiko’s theme also finds its way into the extended version of the show’s main theme.

3 out of 4I can understand that it vastly simplifies things to limit an album to one composer almost exclusively. But the problem here is that there are memorable major themes that have been left out in the cold. Casual fans may not notice…but then again, how many truly casual fans will bother to pick up the soundtrack? Perhaps some of Gold’s compositions should be piggybacked onto a future Doctor Who soundtrack release (particularly the rumored “best of the first four seasons’ music that didn’t make it onto any of the other CDs” album that, like the TARDIS, may or may not materialize), or offered as download-only pieces; without his work from the first season, as nice as Foster’s music is, the Torchwood CD just seems to be missing something.

Order this CD

  1. Everything Changes (1:24)
  2. The Chase (3:28)
  3. Ghosts (2:00)
  4. Sleepers, Awake! (1:14)
  5. Toshiko And Tommy (3:09)
  6. Into The Hub (2:08)
  7. The Mission (2:36)
  8. Gray’s Theme (2:45)
  9. Jack’s Love Theme (1:53)
  10. Another Day, Another Death (2:48)
  11. Look Right, Then Leave (2:50)
  12. Welcome To Planet Earth (1:54)
  13. The Plot (3:25)
  14. Out Of Time (1:31)
  15. The Death Of Dr. Owen Harper (2:13)
  16. King Of The Weevils (4:12)
  17. Owen Fights Death (1:52)
  18. The Woman On The Roof (2:26)
  19. Owen’s Theme (3:13)
  20. Pearl And The Ghostmaker (2:28)
  21. Flat Holm Island (2:12)
  22. A Boy Called Jonah (4:55)
  23. Toshiko Sato: Betrayal And Redemption (3:49)
  24. Gwen And Rhys (1:15)
  25. Jack Joins Torchwood (1:37)
  26. Captain Jack’s Theme (3:20)
  27. I Believe In Him (1:34)
  28. Memories Of Gray (2:32)
  29. Goodbyes (2:23)
  30. The Death Of Toshiko (2:23)
  31. The End Is Where We Start From (2:28)
  32. Torchwood Theme (1:36)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 79:33