From the frenetic circus-like energy of “A Victorian Christmas” and “Lithuania” (so named because it “sounds like the anthem to an Eastern European state” composer Murray Gold, explains jokingly in the liner notes) to the melancholy strokes of “The Fate Of Little Adelaide” and “A Longing To Leave” this collection of music from the Doctor Who Series 4 specials is as much a mixed bag as most television series soundtrack albums tend to be. Gold does point out that due to Silva Screen Records offering to put out a double disc soundtrack album, they were able to include much more music here, and organize it all into a more cohesive musical storyline than television soundtracks usually allow for. And the music does flow cohesively from one track to the next, even as the special changes (The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, and The Waters of Mars are all covered on the first disc while the second disc is devoted entirely to the two parts of The End of Time).

Murray Gold includes a few “as usual”s in his liner notes, discussing the work of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Ben Foster, and the “as usual” also shows that Gold has a bit of experience with television in general and Doctor Who specifically, having composed for over 70 episodes of “Doctor Who”, as well as “Torchwood”, “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, and “Shameless.” Over his time on the series, he’s clearly grown comfortable with the characters and the themes, establishing an easy cadence in his music that plays up the action and adventure while keeping an eye towards distinguishing between light and dark moments. In this almost two hour collection of music there’s plenty of pulse-pounding action (check out the quick track “All in the Balance” for a clear example of this) but Gold also knows how to soften the edges (the dramatic “A Ruined Gaol” follows immediately after “All in the Balance” and brings the adrenaline down to a contemplative level).

Overall, this is a pretty thrilling collection of music with notable tracks including the choral work on “We Shall Fare Well,” the brassy action-comedy vocals of “Speeding to Earth,” and the opening “Vale” which as Gold says “casts its shadow over the opening of this collection.” Fans of Doctor Who will be thrilled to get their hands on this, though I’m not sure the uninitiated will find as much to like in the ups and downs of an aural world that they have no knowledge of.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Those saying goodbye to the good Doctor
Stay Away if: The idea of two hours of Doctor Who music doesn’t immediately strike you as a great collection of music – if you’re not already into it, you’re not likely to warm up to it that quickly

To purchase the soundtrack to Doctor Who: Series 4 – The Specials, visit Amazon

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