Doctor Who
Music from the New Audio Adventures - Volume 1

Composer: Alistair Lock
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 26 2
Available now

This soundtrack album contains music from four of Big Finish's audio dramas: Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Marian Conspiracy and The Spectre of Lanyon Moor. The section of music from each story is preceded by a medley of dialogue culled from trailers to the relevant adventures.

Not surprisingly, the two historically based stories, Phantasmagoria and The Marian Conspiracy, both make use of period instruments to evoke their respective settings. Somewhat reminiscent of Michael Nyman's music for the Peter Greenaway movie The Draughtsman's Contract, Phantasmagoria employs the versatile harpsicord, also adding a flute to build up a sense of danger. Recorders and hand drums are used for The Marian Conspiracy, during which a strident "majesty of England" theme is mingled with more threatening undertones to suggest the less pleasant realities of political turmoil.

The modern setting of The Fearmonger calls for an up-to-the-minute, self-consciously synthesised score. A "skittering" signature implies unpleasant creepy-crawlies and, by association, a wider suggestion of an invisible menace. There is also a hint of the percussive style of Mark Ayres' music for the Sylvester McCoy era, which this story seeks to emulate.

Finally, Hammer Horror movies and the '70s Who style of melodrama are evoked in the music to The Spectre of Lanyon Moor. An ethereal choir can be used to suggest an extra-terrestrial mystery (as in 2001: A Space Odyssey) or a supernatural threat (as in The Omen, to name but one example), and on this occasion it does both.

It would have been nice to have rounded off the CD with the Doctor Who theme, in order to lend a sense of completion, but never mind. And as the adventures from which this music is taken can be played on your CD player anyway, this collection doesn't seem quite as useful as a soundtrack to, for instance, a TV programme or movie, but it's good music nonetheless.

Richard McGinlay