Composer: Murray Gold. Personnel: BBC National Orchestra of Wales (symphony). Audio Mixer: Jake Jackson. The 13-episode length of a British television season and the genre here, science fiction, allow composer Murray Gold considerable latitude in creating … see full wiki
I am bad. I am soooo bad. I got this CD before it was out in the States. I mean, there it was, Murray Gold's music floating around in the UK and I had to wait until they wheeled and dealed to get it here. So I snuck it in and indulged and loved it until the CD was available. That's when I did the responsible thing and besides, I don't have enough room on my computer and you think I'd miss reading an interview with Murray Gold?
If you're not familiar with the Doctor, you ought to be. If you're looking for fantastic soundtrack music, then at least you're in the right place. If you're seeking both, well, you've just hit pay dirt. Murray Gold is responsible for the sweeping, cinematic music that follows the Doctor throughout every adventure. Thus far, only two other composers, Hans Zimmer for Pirates of the Caribbean (and even then, he was only fully in charge of the last two) and Howard Shore of Lord of the Rings have surpassed themselves in the scope and awe of their music. (I have hopes for Harry Gregson-Williams of Narnia lore, as Prince Caspian barely stood against The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). Other composers such as John Williams, while stunning, are happily set in their styles. With Murray Gold, it's a bit like watching a flower bloom - every day it just gets better and more exquisite. You simply don't know what you're going to get with Gold, and it's been different and brilliant every single time.
1.) Doctor Who Series Four Opening Credits - 0:45 Fans of the series will easily be able to hear the slight differences in this version than in other versions. It rocks out a little more, heavier on drums and a bit of guitar and my favorite version yet. 2.) A Noble Girl About Town - 2:12 If you remember Donna Noble's theme from the Series 3 soundtrack, this has the same flavor, but with a bit more jazz to it. And maybe a pinch of something like samba. It's a nice little cocktail of instruments (most notably the use of soft cymbals and the vibraphone) with a bit of extra flair this time. 3.) Life Among The Distant Stars - 2:28 A sad, lonely piece with very few instruments involved, the piano at the forefront and backed with strings and a handful deep brass with the occasional flute. It reaches up briefly around the 2 minute mark with a sort of hopeful gesture only to fade away at the end. 4.) Corridors And Fire Escapes - 1:13 Basically your typical Doctor Who running music, haha. Fast, beating, with a few abrupt spots here and there, its one you can easily see the Doctor rushing around with. 5.) The Sybilline Sisterhood - 1:53 A very sudden change in style, even though you're supposed to think ancient civilization around Pompeii, I tend to think ancient Egyptish. A solo voice brings out the flavor of this dark and perilous track. 6.) Songs of Captivity And Freedom - 4:03 When Donna saw the captive Ood and asked the Doctor to hear their song, this is what she heard. With a violin in the forefront, it is a pretty despairing song, not unlike something you might hear when someone dies. The vocalist reminds me of something you might hear in the Lord of the Rings at a dark point. It almost seems to float somewhere between classical and operatic. Near the end though, you do get a taste of future freedom; something you'll get more of in track 26. 7.) UNIT Rocks - 1:11 The first soundtrack had a "Unit" track but I love this version so much more. It's a little shorter, but it rocks out more, a little extra added in the same way the main Doctor Who theme has been beefed up a tick. 8.) The Doctor's Daughter - 1:37 An interesting conglomeration of sounds and even fractions of themes, this song ends sooner than you would expect it to. 9.) The Source - 3:20 Slow, a little dismayed, this is a song that searches around for some hope. I honestly can't remember where it fits into the series, but some of the violin sections coupled with very faint chorus are quite sweet. It picks up around 2:15 and tries to gain strength and though it doesn't quite make it, it does pick up some of that hope it was looking for. 10.) The Unicorn And The Wasp - 3:09 A song that tiptoes around and sneaks into rooms all while trying to look innocuous. Another interesting mixture of pieces meant to mirror the times, the situation, and the questions that arise. Mirrored well, I might add. 11.) The Doctor's Theme Series Four - 2:45 One of my favorites on here, the Doctor's theme, with the soft chorus and the mysterious undertones, will never go out of style. It's been modified only a little bit and gets more powerful every time Murray tinkers with it. Gives me goosebumps, this one. Always did love the way it wound up into the clouds. 12.) Voyage Of The Damned Suite - 10:21 Longest track on here, composed of, well, oodles of pieces from the Christmas special, all tied together flawlessly to move from one bit to another. Also one of my favorites, especially the first half. It's distinctly Doctor and has this wonderful section around the 2 minute mark that has sad smile written all over it. The section with the chorus and organ is a particularly nice touch. From there it's quick and powerful save-the-day music before finally waltzing into a happy, we've-saved-the-day sort of ballet and a merry Christmas to everyone. This part is also reminiscent of "The Stowaway" from the previous soundtrack (interesting to see them split up). While you only get to hear some of the major parts during the show, it's nice to hear all the smaller details with a very mellow and sweet ending. 13.) The Girl With No Name - 2:45 Sort of an eerie swaying tune that makes me think of off-balance carnival music or masquerade party. It gets a little sinister about midway through and keeps you guessing the rest of the way through. 14.) The Song Of Song - 2:13 With a sprinkling of the Doctor's theme, this one is a mix between the style of the previous track and a slight pinch of lullaby. But not for too long since something drastic happens to get the instruments in a complete tizzy. 15.) All In The Mind - 1:16 Probably the one of the most abrupt songs on here, it's so different and so unexpected, it'll make you pause for a second before you know what's going on. We're inside Donna's happy little fake home with a chipper flute (a fife maybe?) and in fact, it sounds almost videogame-like, which works out very well considering the circumstances in the show. 16.) Silence In The Library - 2:56 Similar to track 13, we're still in the library and the orchestra weaves in and out, touching upon mystery and memory. It's quite relaxed and over sooner than you think. 17.) The Greatest Story Never Told - 6:16 In my ears and mind, this is the best track on here. A lot of people think track 26 is the best, but I disagree. I think this song comes with more feeling, more excitement, and more tension combined than any other song on here. Just the way it starts is enough to get me to close my eyes and sink into the notes. The chorus, combined with the full orchestra just going all out in full bloom, and even then brief downtime with sparklings and faint dings is fantastic. It takes its time to wind back up with some familiar tunes before it drops and then works its way back up from scratch to full on Doctor-running-adventure music and fantastic Doctor life saving discovery. This one gives me goosebumps too. I friggin' love it and it's the first track I always listen to when I turn this CD on. 18.) Midnight - 3:07 Decidedly the creepiest track on the CD, it's exactly what Murray was going for. Deemed a bit of an experiment and a partial risk, it worked out the way they wanted it; dark and predatory. It fits perfectly with the episode (which I enjoyed, even if everyone else didn't). The two are unique and equally disturbing. Normally I don't like freakish music, but this one I'll make a point to listen to. Gives ya chills! 19.) Turn Left - 2:21 Another favorite, I love how the sound bounces from one speaker/earphone to the other in a misty, dreamlike way, staying in line with what's going on in the episode. It seems a lot shorter than it actually is and the faint Doctor chorus will send shivers down my spine. If I'm alone, I'll vocalize along with them and their echo-like sound. 20.) A Dazzling End - 2:14 Yet another favorite, the way it starts with the low strum of an electric guitar. The addition of the guitar was nice and the way all the other instruments add in one by one to the beat to create a growing urgency and something-big-is-going-to happen sense is a good touch. 21.) The Rueful Fate of Donna Noble - 2:44 I admit to not being a great fan of Donna, but even I hated what happened to her. I felt so sorry (and I hope he can fix her in the future or something). Anyway, the music to her fate is another piece that ranks up there in my list of favorites. It's pretty high because it's just so...regretful. The guitar from before is back again and the song carries a steady melody that's strong in resolve but also sad. The piano at the end is an added bonus. 22.) Davros -2:03 Though technically it doesn't, I like the way the previous track sort of leads into this one. It's slightly creepy with more electronic sounds sneaking around than the rest of the tracks so far. I mean, this thing walks around on spider legs and in some spots, reminds me of some of the pieces in LOST(which I am not a fan of). 23.) The Dark And Endless Dalek Night - 3:43 What would a Dalek song be without deep vocals, commanding brass, and overall demanding theme? Very, very vaguely reminiscent of "The Daleks" in the first soundtrack, only wider, more dangerous. More...heavily armored, if you will. 24.) A Pressing Need To Save The World - 4:50 A lot of really fun percussion in here with some classic Doctor-saving-the-world thrills. Some of the old electronic devices are back and the beats are enjoyable as the orchestra winds around them. You get pieces of other themes and familiar melodies that occasionally weave into one 25.) Hanging On The Tablaphone - 1:04 I love this song for it's crazy sounds, crazy speed, and blippy little noises that work so well with the word "tablaphone." Add in a bit of the "ooh aah!" chorus from other Dalek fights and we've got it made. 26.) Song Of Freedom - 2:51 I'd actually missed the last episode of the series and hadn't heard this. I feel a bit like a traitor or some unappreciative twit with this song because everyone was going on and on about how awesome it was, so I was excited and when I finally saw the episode and then listened to the song alone, I have to say, I wasn't as moved as I thought I would be. Still, it's a wonderful piece (I heard they had people clapping away during the live concert - I'm jealous of all of you) and a solid piece with beautiful chorus and a very freedom-like, triumphant feel. It really does capture the feeling.
27.) Doctor Who Series Four Closing Credits - 1:07 Just like track 1, only longer. It's a good time and like I said before, I just love what Gold's done with it.
I know I make Murray Gold out to be the best composer of all time or something above, but I really have no true clout to proclaim anything. What I do know is that Gold is getting better every time. The success of the series has given him more range with what he is able to do and which orchestra he gets to work with. The results are amazing and offer us music lovers (and Doctor Who fans) a better soundtrack after every series.
I have to say, the times on some of these tracks can really trick you when you're listening to them. Some of the shorter ones seem like their longer - "The Sybilline Sisterhood" -and some of the longer ones seem like they're shorter - "Turn Left" - and as I typed this up I realized just how short most of these were and found myself surprised. It may be that because of the longer tracks I always tend to listen to early on ("Voyage of the Damned," "The Greatest Story Never Told") make it seem like overall everything is longer than it is. Hard to say, really.
What matters is that this soundtrack is, as the Doctor would say, fantastic. While the previous two soundtracks had a handful of songs I'd skip over, this one has much less. Most of the time I'll get sucked into the track before having a chance to wonder whether or not I want to listen to it. I'm so glad that the series is as popular as it is since it gives Murray Gold (and let's not forget his right hand man, Ben Foster) so much more room to breathe and that's just going to offer up even more goodies as time rolls on.
I look forward to the next season and the next soundtrack and hope it's as every bit as great as this one.