Soundtrack: Dr. Who & The Daleks/Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.
Composers: Malcolm Lockyer & Bill McGuffie
Label: Indie Europe/Zoom
Release Date: October 13, 2009
I know this is a soundtrack of music appearing on Doctor Who. But when I listen to this collection, I can’t help thinking about those grand movies from the early sixties. The voice in the back of my head keeps mentioning Alfred Hitchcock. Most of this soundtrack could just as easily be from North by Northwest as from Doctor Who. It’s got that vibe to it.
Partially, I assume this is because it’s a symphonic score. There are plenty of strings and horns, punctuated by a lot of percussion in the especially expressive moments. I have no trouble imagining The Doctor sneaking up behind a Dalek or insulting the intelligence of some hapless minion.
Another reason is that the music is highly narrative. Even if you didn’t know it was from a television show, this soundtrack will conjure highly narrative images in your head. We’re talking dancing hippos and smiling lunch-ladies. Do not listen to this soundtrack just before going to bed, especially if you are also eating pizza and looking at a lava lamp.*
The other reason I think of Hitchcock when I listen to this soundtrack is the slightly disjointed impact the music puts into your ear hole. It’s not an overwhelming disjointed feeling, but it’s there. There is just enough discord to make you think “Hitchcock-ish” without making you think “pretentious avant-garde postmodern slop.”
In “The Countdown,” for example, the harpsichord plays a diminished fifth chord here, and chromatic arpeggio there (I’m not good enough to know for certain that they are diminished fifth chords just by listening to the song a few times. I just assume anything with a tinge of dissonance that still sounds like it’s in the right key is a diminished fifth chord. My guitar teacher used to hate it when I said stuff like that). It’s just enough to tell you something totally messed up is going on, but not enough to make you want to hide under the couch.
That’s not to say this is a perfect effort. To enjoy this, you have to be in the mood for some melodrama in your symphonic-score-to-episodic-sci-fi soundtrack. Also, each individual piece is short enough that you should probably listen to it in order, and back-to-back, to get the full impact.
There’s one more thing: for some of the tracks, the symphonic emphasis slows down, and some sixties-style hipster stuff kicks in. For example, instead of images of Hitchcock movies, I got images of Austin Powers filling my head for “Daleks and Thals” and “The Eccentric Doctor Who.” That could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your personality. But overall, it’s a good effort.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
*Unless you’re writing a journal about your weird dreams. In that case, listen to “Dalek City Effects” and put it on a repeating loop.