Silva Screen records have released two exciting soundtrack CDs that showcase the very best of Doctor Who incidental music. ‘The Daleks’ and ‘Survival’ come from opposite ends of the Classic series. Therefore the soundtracks for both stories offer varying styles of audio delights. Interestingly they prove to be the perfect accompaniment to each other.
Taking the original material, these releases have been meticulously prepared by Mark Ayres, a composer on two Doctor Who serials in 1989. As expected the result is flawless in terms of quality. Curiously the image of Sylvester McCoy on the back of the CD case is from the filming of ‘Ghost Light’. Aside from that the newly created artwork from Clayton Hickman also makes for a very nice pair of physical CDs. Both titles of course begin with their variation on the opening theme. From very different periods in Doctor Who’s history they showcase equally varied styles of soundtrack that accentuated the viewing experience. In isolation the incidental music conjures up images of alien pepperpots in their city and humanoid cheetahs on the arid wastes of a far-flung planet.
‘The Daleks’ opens with a number of tracks that create an other-worldly atmosphere. The creation of the alien atmosphere is assisted by Special Sounds created by Brian Hodgson and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The instantly recognisable heartbeat sound of the Dalek Control Room still permeates today. For example, it was used as a part of the Dalek section of Doctor Who Experience’s walkthrough adventure. On screen the familiar hum was reused in 2015’s ‘The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar’. The whole CD is full of wonderful noises, alien pulses and sounds. All of these complement the music created over fifty years ago by Tristram Cary. Overall the result is an atmospheric trip that carries the listener right back to the planet Skaro.
In contrast to ‘The Daleks’, ‘Survival’ is more traditional in the creation of its soundtrack. Musical instruments are utilised instead of the peculiar special sounds. Guitar strings and piano keys may be more recognisable sources for music but the effect achieved is identical. Visions of the Cheetah People seen onscreen are evoked in the mind. Unlike the theme tune, the music does not feel of the 1980’s. Instead, Dominic Glynn’s rhythm and tension-building could easily elevate a modern episode of the show. Concluding the tale was of course the infamous “…And Somewhere Else, The Tea’s Getting Cold” speech. The music accompanying that provides a poignant moment. At the time it signified an ending, not that we knew it at the time. Now however it can be looked back upon as a momentous musical moment signifying a shift to an exciting new era. Very appropriate for 2017.