Doctor Who
Music from the New Audio Adventures - Volume II

Composer: Alistair Lock
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 07 6, BFPCDMUSIC2
Available now

As with the previous volume, this one is solely dedicated to compositions by Alistair Lock. Wouldn't it have been fairer to give the work of Nicholas Briggs or Russell Stone some exposure before returning to Mr Lock?

In other respects, the compilation offers rather less than its predecessor. The music of only three stories is featured - The Last of the Titans, The Shadow of the Scourge and The Fires of Vulcan - as opposed to the previous standard of four. There are no dialogue clips this time around, and the stories in question all starred Sylvester McCoy, which makes the cover design a little misleading.

The Last of the Titans was a single-part story included on a special CD given away with issue 300 of Doctor Who Magazine. The music features mock-creepy themes with shades of Sapphire and Steel-type percussion. These themes get slightly darker as the piece develops, but the medley is rather lightweight, reflecting the brevity of the story.

The Shadow of the Scourge demonstrates a greater range of themes, although these also exhibit a predominance of gloomy refrains. Not for the first time, the work of McCoy-era musician Mark Ayres proves to be inspirational, as is evident in the moody synths that signify the ethereal plane of the alien Scourge, and in a few bars of Ghost Light-style organ music. The occasional funkier moment lightens the mood slightly, but the jauntiness of Benny's theme (a variation on the original signature tune to Big Finish's New Adventures) still comes as something of a relief.

Given that The Fires of Vulcan was set during the last days of Pompeii, its music - the best of the three selections on this CD - is surprisingly free of doom and gloom. It opens with some gentler instrumentation and choral samples, evoking a simpler way of life at this point in history. Strident, booming drums suggest the might of the Roman Empire as well as the violence of its gladiatorial arenas. Eventually, a tolling bell presages the inevitable destruction of the city by Vesuvius.

A disappointing second volume, then. Hopefully the third will provide more variety.

Richard McGinlay