Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Doctor Who Series 7 Soundtrack Review

The seventh series of Doctor Who has, in my opinion, had a very hit and miss soundtrack in the episodes. For example, in my previous reviews of the seventh series, I have expressed concern over perhaps too much reuse of some tracks in recent episodes, but also expressed joy over episodes such as Angels Take Manhattan for the new music. This soundtrack has done a fairly good job of picking out the best tracks from the series.

Possibly due to the series' separated and cinematic feel, this album definitely leaves part of the idea of having an overall theme to it, but instead tends to focus more on the episodes and the characters themselves, for better or for worse. Therefore, there's a lot less repeats of themes (most notably, barely anything based on I Am The Doctor) and a lot more uniqueness surrounding each one.

A common thread I've found is that some of the tracks could be greatly extended and be given more time to really delve into it as most of them are over before they begin.

What is rather disappointing is the lack of some tracks. For instance, there's nothing from The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe and nothing from The Snowmen, though with the release of A Christmas Carol's separate soundtrack, one specially made for these two (perhaps with another episode, e.g. the 50th) can't be off the cards. This is a shame since there is at least 3 or 4 songs from The Snowmen that I would have liked to be on there. Though the lack of a few other tracks is rather surprising, i.e. last couple of minutes of Name of the Doctor.

What is most confusing and surprising about the missing tracks, however, is the lack of new title sequence music. With CD1 coming in at 76 minutes and CD2 being 69 minutes, one can most certainty make the argument that there is plenty of space for it, among a few other tracks too.

Likewise, I find it rather disappointing that they release two iTunes bonus tracks only available via purchasing the whole album, especially since these are not on the limited edition release, and not put them in with the rest of the CD where there's enough space. Personally? Either no iTunes bonuses' or enough to make paying for the whole album again worth it.
One of the key differences, for better or for worse, is the amount of what's included. Comparing these discs to the previous double-CD releases, these discs are both longer in duration and have a lot more tracks where the average length has actually decreased.

To keep in with the tradition that appears to be about, here are my top 10 tracks (picking just 10 is really hard!). You can look up more on these in the break-down below.
  1. #1.03 Asylum Of The Daleks - Dalek Parliament
  2. #1.16. A Town Called Mercy - The Salvation Of Kahler Jex
  3. #1.21. The Angels Take Manhattan - New York New York
  4. #1.28. The Angels Take Manhattan - Together Or Not At All - The Song Of Amy And Rory
  5. #1.34. The Bells Of Saint John - A Turbulent Flight
  6. #1.36. The Bells Of Saint John - Up The Shard
  7. #2.06. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Speeder
  8. #2.08. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Long Song
  9. #2.09. The Rings Of Akhaten - Infinite Potential
  10. #2.37. The Name Of The Doctor - Remember Me
The booklet looks very gorgeous in its very minimalistic design featuring promotional images from each series 7 episode and a list of tracks from that episode. The album introduction, by the composer Murray Gold, is actually quite fun to read (since normally, when professional people try to be funny, it fails. A lot.). While I personally would have preferred a bit more information (this is coming from the person who makes a point of watching the NON-cutdown Doctor Who Confidentials and every single behind the scenes piece), I did enjoy the information that was given and made me realise just how much of series 7 wasn't even recorded, but rather electronically based (which helps to explain the lack of included pieces in this set).

Overall, this release definitely has some amazing tracks and is worth purchasing (a few of the tracks were so good, I went with an 8 instead of the 7 as originally planned), but like all others it isn't perfect and perhaps the most disappointing is not what's on there, but what either could have been or should have been.

Overall Score: 8/10

The Series 7 Soundtrack is out 9th September. Pre-order details and previews can be found here.

Below, you can see a break-down of the album, track by track with ratings and one or two thoughts.

Though a disclaimer first: I've spent HOURS listening to this soundtrack and sometimes it got a little tiresome. I'm sure if I go back to some tracks, I'll change my mind and rate some higher and others lower. Some 4s could be considered 4.5s.

Just as a quick note, I've used the phrase "background music" a lot. What I mean by this is the sort of music that adds to it in the episode and makes it less boring, but music that you wouldn't really want to hear on its own.

Disc 1

1. Asylum Of The Daleks - They Are Everywhere 2/5
As a sort-of extended version of the opening theme of Asylum, this track is very much a background atmosphere-builder and for the most part, that's all it is. It's great if you want to add background music to your own things, but not so much fun to listen to on it's own after a while.
2. Asylum Of The Daleks - Save Us 3/5
This builds on the previous track by doing almost the same, however it does progress throughout the track, which is always much better, however it doesn't really add much more.
3. Asylum Of The Daleks - Dalek Parliament 4/5
This takes the background music into the foreground as The Doctor, Amy and Rory enter the Dalek Parliament. It spices up the level of suspense and adds a sense of superiority and danger and combines these extremely well.
4. Asylum Of The Daleks - Oswin Oswald 3/5
 The first of Clara's very piano based themes, this theme has quite a "confused" vibe to it in the first half, which I am not sure if meant to be there or not due to her storyline in this episode. It does also have the essences of sadness (perhaps even happy sad?) to it that worked well.
5. Asylum Of The Daleks - Towards The Asylum 4/5
A fun investigatory-action mix theme that's been put together rather well.
6. Asylum Of The Daleks - A Probe In The Snow 3/5
A loose variation of the previous two themes with extra bits added to increase the mysterious and magnificent affect that combine into one piece.
7. Asylum Of The Daleks - Amy And Rory Together 4/5
Amy and Rory have just made up and got back together again, which is celebrated by this quite happy music. The only downside to this is that it shares a lot with #28, which is far stronger and more memorable, thereby almost destroying this piece's majestic and happy nature.
8. Asylum Of The Daleks - The Terrible Truth 4/5
The first of the sad tracks of the album, when Oswin finds out she is actually a Dalek and The Doctor pegs it. While it's not an incredibly memorable piece (hence not the full rating), I did enjoy the rather moving and action-y track.
9. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Dinosaurs On A Spaceship/Pterodactyls 2/5
A bit of fun and a bit of danger for the reveal of the dinosaurs and the pterodactyl chase sequence, but this track definitely feels like it lacks something. Perhaps it is the two themes sliced together into one track?
10. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Brian 3/5
 This is just a fun little theme for Brian. It neither stands out or is memorable nor does it try to be either, but when it's played, it's quite enjoyable.
11. Dinosaurs On A Spaceship - Take A Ride On Tricey 3/5
 It's another fun (DOAS was practically soaked in fun!) and action-y track jumping about between a feeling of randomness, action, mysteriousness and a hint of superiority, these feelings are all combined rather well without it sound too much like a mix-track.
12. A Town Called Mercy - Make Peace 4/5
 This springy track, from the start of A Town Called Mercy, is a wonderful combination of the west and action, mixed in with a cybernetic feel at later stages. It's short and works wonderfully well.
13. A Town Called Mercy - Welcome To Mercy 3/5
 The introduction to Mercy, this track starts off a little slow but it picks up massively, with the western feel and the wonderful vocals.
14. A Town Called Mercy - Out West 3/5
 A mixture of action and a small part of what feels like filler background music, this track definitely has a suite-style to it and as such, it feels like it can't decide what it's trying to do.
15. A Town Called Mercy - Gunslingers 4/5
The "I Am The Doctor In The West" track of the selection, with some good variation, it's a fast-paced very vocal delight to listen to, although it's a bit too short since once I properly got into it, it was just about over.
16. A Town Called Mercy - The Salvation Of Kahler Jex 4/5
Kahler Jex decides to end it all opposed to this excellent track, which is easily one of my favourites of the album, although the practically empty startup and the feeling that I can't shake off of the vocals and the instrumental competing with each other too much spoils its original 5 out of 5 rating. I guess it just sounded better in the episode for me.
17. A Town Called Mercy - Our Little Towns Prosecutor 4/5
While Gunslingers was the "I Am The Doctor" of the episode, this track most certainly uses some of the elements from the actual I Am The Doctor track and applies it to Kahler Tek, and is an excellent end to an episode.
18. The Power Of Three - Cubes 4/5
The introduction of the Cubes, this track has a very impending and build up feel to it,  though I find the sound of a helicopter at the start to be rather confusing.
19. The Power Of Three - While We Waited 3/5
 Keeping in with a very whisper based theme, which fits the idea of the cubes rather well, this track feels like a much slower (and more thought out) version of Cubes. That is, of course, until we get to the section where The Doctor goes insane and music gets that "smashing the keyboard" feel to it, which works better if you simply take part in it and enjoy it.
20. The Power Of Three - Brian's Log 3/5
Another strongly whisper based track with a bit of a fun beat. The addition of the fast-paced tick-tocking noise works really well and fits in with the scene.
21. The Angels Take Manhattan - New York New York 5/5
We now get to the serious dramatic music of the intro to Angels Take Manhattan. The extremely dramatic and the feeling of doom looming over the listener at the beginning is great, and is added to by the slightly dark sensation of the addition of a saxophone adds River's flirty nature to the track. This track is definitely one of my favourites.
22. The Angels Take Manhattan - I Am You 3/5
While the ending of this musical piece of great, I can't help but find the rest of it to be rather hit and miss.
23. The Angels Take Manhattan - Melody Malone 2/5
For a track that focuses on Melody Malone, i.e. River Song, I expected a lot more that what feels very much like distant background music.
24. The Angels Take Manhattan - Little Angels 3/5
This just goes to prove that you don't necessarily need anything complex to provoke the feeling of dread and unease in someone.
25. The Angels Take Manhattan - My Husband's Home 3/5
Very much the track that sticks to 11's themes out of the whole album, this is very much a mishmosh of a few different themes from the episode.
26. The Angels Take Manhattan - Hide The Damage 3/5
River explains about The Doctor's feelings alongside this sad background music, although it's not memorable at all and doesn't remind me of the scene.
27. The Angels Take Manhattan - Almost The End 4/5
This fairly short action piece helps to build up to the sequence of Amy and Rory's demise, but it barely starts by the time it ends.
28. The Angels Take Manhattan - Together Or Not At All - The Song Of Amy And Rory 5/5
One of my favourites for the album, where we have the final stages of the build up and whether it's the really slow and deep intro (that MAY remind you of Doomsday), the heart wrenching percussion or the "Who" vocals to the enclosing drums, this track really hits you deep below.
29. The Angels Take Manhattan - Goodbye Pond 5/5
The final goodbye, this track hits you deep below by portraying the lie of everything being OK again, before it yanks first Rory away and then Amy away from you in an equally dramatic way and we are left with The Doctor balling his eyes out. The mixture between a fast-paced and a slow-paced track compliment each other extremely well.
30. The Bells Of Saint John - Cumbria 1207 4/5
Earth. 1207. The Bells of Saint John are ringing and this delightful piece of music really gets us into the mix. A few bells here and a hint of an Eleventh Doctor theme there and we get a good introductory piece.
31. The Bells Of Saint John - Monking About 4/5
Return of the fun. The Doctor is...well....De-Monking about to this track as he strips off his clothes as he enters the TARDIS and changes.
32. The Bells Of Saint John - Spoonheads 4/5
Clara is in the process of being uploaded to The Cloud and The Doctor is hacking her back. This piece fits this rather well, with a sense of urgency, desperation, action, victory (with I Am The Doctor) and finally relief. It really helps us feel exactly what The Doctor is feeling.
33. The Bells Of Saint John - Clara? - 5/5
Easily one of my favourite companion themes throughout Doctor Who, Clara's theme is very piano based and wonderfully gives her majestic and mysterious character with a delicate touch.
34. The Bells Of Saint John - A Turbulent Flight 5/5
Bit of a slow start, but a thoroughly enjoyable action sequence as The Doctor and Clara take their first trip in the TARDIS together to a plane that is about to crash, this really makes me feel excited, part of the action and I adore listening to it again and again.
35. The Bells Of Saint John - Bah Bah Biker 4/5
The Doctor and Clara go for a little joy-ride on a bike and this music shows that perfectly. Nothing more. Nothing less.
36. The Bells Of Saint John - Up The Shard 5/5
Somewhat disappointed that this track is not called "I Am Not The Doctor Riding Up The Shard On An Anti-Grav Motorbike", this track is easily one of my favourites and one that you can easily follow what happens. The track starts off with this deep beat that really helps you feel the anger that is coursing through The Doctor as he rides the motorbike towards The Shard. This is swiftly followed by the short confrontation with Miss Kizlet's remote controlled human where we can feel that The Doctor feels he has the upper ground.
The following segment is wonderful in showing how the Eleventh Doctor showed off (because if nothing else, The Eleventh Doctor is a showman) in riding up The Shard. The confrontation music and the reveal music that follows this simple and fairly good. This is definitely a track I can have on repeat.
37. The Bells Of Saint John - I Might Change My Mind 3/5
The aftermath of The Bells of Saint John with The Doctor inviting Clara aboard. This track is purely background music until the end where we have the "Right then Clara. Time to find out who you are" short sequence that ends off the episode and the disc.

Disc 2

1. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Leaf 3/5
The Doctor is investigating Clara with this soft investigatory music mixed with Clara's theme, it just works.
2. The Rings Of Akhaten - Something Awesome 4/5
The Doctor picks up Clara, and Clara attempts to decide where to go. The music, mostly in jest at Clara, is a fun little piece as she has trouble and fits it well. Her request for "Something Awesome" promotes the music into a very short dramatic introduction.
3. The Rings Of Akhaten - Market Day 4/5
The introduction to the market on Akhaten, Market Day expresses some of the weird and the strange and the excitement that they come across in a beautiful way.
4. The Rings Of Akhaten - Merry Gejelh 4/5
The song of Merry Gejelh that has a delicate sense of mystery about her while she battles with her fear of her destiny and the music takes a turn for the better when she succeeds.
5. The Rings Of Akhaten - God Of Akhaten 5/5
The first of the beautiful songs sung. This one to the God of Akhaten. Needless to say that it is brilliant, especially since it is far clearer on here and the words can be understood easier. I also enjoy the ending where we find the danger is introduced.
6. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Speeder 5/5
A, IMHO, too short piece of music for the chase between the Doctor and Clara on the Speeder and Merry. One of my favourite pieces.
7. The Rings Of Akhaten - Never Wake 4/5
"Do not wake from slumber" is pretty much the message of the song in a very echoy vocal chorus song.. It's not as good as the other songs from Rings of Akhaten and I can't help but feel it's there just to be there.
8. The Rings Of Akhaten - The Long Song 5/5
"And let the cloak of life cling to your bones. Cling to your bones."
One of the best songs out of the entire soundtrack. The backing to one of the greatest speeches the Eleventh Doctor has ever made. I can't listen to this without shivering, mostly in epicness.
9. The Rings Of Akhaten - Infinite Potential 4/5
Another heart-wrenching track as Clara gives away her most prized possession, although since it's more background music while she makes her speech, it's a lot more plain for the most part.
10. The Rings Of Akhaten - Always You, Never A Replacement 2/5
This is another one of those very background music pieces that doesn't really give much.
11. Cold War - Cold War 4/5
The piece that fits the title and the episode, it lacks warmth and has action sequences and works well with the episode. Some of the suspenseful moments made my heart skip a beat.
12. Cold War - Skaldak 4/5
A piece that starts off cold, this really warms up to Skaldak's own feelings of his daughter and the mystery behind the Ice Warrior race.
13. Hide - I Am A Ghost 3/5
An extremely soft music with a hint of sadness. Like the episode, this will very much be a like it/hate it choice.
14. Journey To The Centre Of The Tardis - A Machine That Makes Machines 4/5
Fans of funky music will enjoy this fairly punkish foreboding piece.
15. The Crimson Horror - Crimson Horror 3/5
The opening of The Crimson Horror. It starts off great and is pretty enjoyable with the happy old ye time market sort of music with a bit of a beat, but after the two thirds is hit, I have no idea WTF this piece becomes. It reminds me of the segment from Sad Man In A Box where they included the weird things from the episode that degraded the quality of the music.
16. The Crimson Horror - Sweetville 4/5
The sound of sweet excitement (and it does have a candy-like feel to the sound) complimented with the sound of foreboding into what will happen.
17. The Crimson Horror - Thomas Thomas 3/5
Putting my feelings of this moment in the episode aside, I find this music to be rather dull and to be a bit of a filler. It portrays what I imagine the feelings of the episode's writer, Mark Gatiss, feels about the moment with a "I am cool" slight "twinge" on the moment with the echo-y western-y style backing combined to truly distant background music.
18. Nightmare In Silver - Hedgewicks World 3/5
The theme that portrays the excitement, mystery and then disappointment of discovering the fate of Hedgewick's World. This theme portrays these with some overlap in them, though it's nothing special.
19. Nightmare In Silver - Tiberian Spiral Galaxy 4/5
The sad revelation of the fate of Tiberian Spiral galaxy mixed in with a strangely human but alien feel that works really well, you can't help but feel sad.
20. Nightmare In Silver - Upgrade In Progress 4/5
This really short track, is a funky and upbeat Cybermen action music that takes a lot from the Series 2 Cybermen theme and...well....upgrades it a bit.
21. Nightmare In Silver - The Dream Of Cyberia 3/5
More or less a mixture between the previous three tracks.
22. Nightmare In Silver - What A Brain 3/5
This fits in nicely by mixing the senses a bit by combining this fairly normal (and if it were alone, boring) piece of music with a dizzying piece and an additional sense of danger into something that is neither completely comfortable but something easily listen-able, exactly how I imagine it was designed for.
23. Nightmare In Silver - Cant Win 4/5
The same as Upgrade in Progress where it's a really short and upbeat track, but this time it's for the other side!
24. Nightmare In Silver - Your Orders Come From Me 2/5
A short and calm piece that you could easily go to sleep listening to. With the exception of additional instrument, most of it sounds rather stock.
25. Nightmare In Silver - Other Good News 4/5
A short piece dedicated to the fun little conversation between The Doctor and Clara, it contains the fun of the initial segment smoothly transitioning into the more dangerous element.
26. Nightmare In Silver - The Impossible Girl 3/5
Obviously, this is a mix between Clara's signature style and the Cybermen's, albeit the signature style is rather lacking and you could be mistaken for believing this wasn't about Clara at all for the greater proportion of it. I found the use of some stereotypical tunes here to be rather detrimental to the overall rating of the track.
27. Nightmare In Silver - Cyber Army 4/5
A rather dramatic action track for the Cybermen. The March of the Cybermen-wannabe of the track. The issue? It's too short and feels as if it cannot make it's mind up part way through.
28. Nightmare In Silver - The Emperors Wife 4/5
A beautiful track that's a bit of heart-warming fun after some action, although I find the action segment used to be pretty good a little under-used as a whole actually.
29. Nightmare In Silver - Some Wednesday 4/5
A closing theme that takes essence from a mixture of I Am The Doctor and Everything Has To End Some Time, it works really well.
30. The Name Of The Doctor - To Save The Doctor 5/5
Opening with a short stint from This is Gallifrey, this is close to being one of my favourites (it's replaced by Remember Me since that is an extended epicer version). This track is wonderful since it contains almost everything. Fun. Action. Drama.
31. The Name Of The Doctor - A Letter To Clara 3/5
Clara's signature tune is evident in this one directly from the start and is one of the key elements throughout which is great, however it's not actually that much different that her actual theme and the "added elements" do not add much, but it's still quite enjoyable.
32. The Name Of The Doctor - What Is His Name? 3/5
This is one of those tracks that starts off boring, but half way through it gets a better as it transitions into a darker piece, that works well but it's a little rough around the edges.
33. The Name Of The Doctor - A Secret He Will Take To His Grave 4/5
One that hits you in the feels before it even happens, this track is the Doomsday of the album. So simple. So sad.
34. The Name Of The Doctor - Trenzalore 4/5
This is the second of the pre-meditated "double tap" of your heart from The Name of The Doctor and it very much feels it. Again. So simple. So sad.
35. The Name Of The Doctor - I Am Information 3/5
A mixture between sad music and dramatic music that's almost exactly split evenly. The problem is that we've heard most of the sad music in the previous two tracks and by the time the dramatic segment gets into its flow, it ends.
36. The Name Of The Doctor - Pain Everlasting 4/5
While I Am Information is an excellent bridging track, this just plummets the listener back into the sad track. My main complaint is that this track sounds so similar to Trenzalore for the majority of it.
37. The Name Of The Doctor - Remember Me 5/5
Easily one of my favourites. It has the delicate nature of Clara. It has the sadness of watching Eleven die. It has the Goodbye. It has the awesome action sequence.

iTunes Exclusives

1. Glasgow 4/5
The first of the bonus tracks and its fun tune progressing into a foreboding tune is lovely. Although I'm not a fan of bag-pipes, I adore the addition of the Scottish elements in it!
2. Whisper Men
A strange theme that I can't quite figure out whether I like it or hate it (hence the lack of rating). It contains mystery and, again a slight sense of danger incoming,  but not all that much more.It seems like it only included 1 part of the mix by mistake and there was supposed to be something else.

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