13 Who Jazz Funk Greats
Doctor Who's more out-there musical moments.
The various eras of Doctor Who are defined by the in-house style of its incidental music, from Dudley Simpson's chamber orchestra arrangements in the '70s through to Murray Gold's cinematic grandeur, via the series' brief flirtation with rastabillyskank. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, so here's The Fan Can's tip of the hat to some of the show's more unconventional musical offerings…
The Sea Devils
Relentless barrage of white noise that was the result of a life and death struggle between sonic terrorist Malcolm Clarke and the Radiophonic Workshop's massive EMS Synthi 100. Anticipates, at various points, Throbbing Gristle, Metal Machine Music, Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell and – in its calmer moments – Eno & Fripp's No Pussyfooting. A BDSM specialist's shag tape.
The Leisure Hive
Analogue synth porn! Peter Howell brings Doctor Who screaming into the dayglo 1980s, as part of JNT's über-stylised approach for season 18, by covering season opener The Leisure Hive wall-to-wall with a lush soundtrack that's equal parts Jean Michel Jarre, early Human League and Wendy Carlos. 1981 in a bottle.
Not so much a score, more a collection of atmospherics, culled from stock music cues by Radiophonics pioneers Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson – throbbing, pulsating and humming whorls of ambient electronic sound that complement the industrial setting of the story and its apocalyptic visions of a nightmare parallel Earth.
Dominic Glynn's score features atmospheric swathes of ambient rock guitar possibly inspired by the instrument's use in BBC drama productions of a similar vintage such as Edge Of Darkness (1985), The Life & Loves Of A She-Devil (1986) and Northanger Abbey (1987), and which complements the story's dreamlike, sensual feel (i.e. the bits not featuring Hale & Pace).
Melodic electronica from the fingertips of Paddy Kingsland, at times so reminiscent of his score for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy that when the Deciders introduce themselves in episode three, one half-expects Vroomfondel and Majikthise to turn up. Bonus points for K9's jazz bass riff, which sounds like a Ronnie Hazelhurst fill on Valium.
Doctor Who And The Silurians
Carey Blyton (yes, he is a relation to Enid) decided a distinctly "organic" sounding instrument would best complement the prehistoric origins of the Silurians, and made prominent use of the crumhorn, an umbrella-shaped medieval reed instrument of limited range that here sounds uncannily like Pigbin Josh busking on a kazoo.
Death To The Daleks
Carey Blyton's eccentric score for late-era Pertwee Parrinium-fingering yarn - widely maligned for the Daleks' less than menacing comedy jingle - is suitably effective for the celestial sounds that accompany the reveal of the Exxilon City and the discordant, wheezing, droning Temple music and Satanic wassailing during the sacrifice ceremony. Most sinister use of horns in pop culture prior to Kenny G.
Unloved, Pertwee-era, Earth Empire yawn-fest has one thing to recommend it, and that's a weird, atonal and otherworldly score by Tristram Cary. Not one for your new girlfriend's mix CD (unless she really, really likes Aphex Twin) but greatly enhances the scenes on the scorched wastelands of Solos.
The Web Planet
The production team opted for something suitably avant garde for this ambitious stab at an all-alien story by raiding the back catalogue of obscure oddball French duo Les Structures Sonores – literally sound sculptures, yer actual musique concrete realised on metal and glass.
Malcolm Clarke gets all A Clockwork Orange on yo'ass, with metallic clangs, prostate-rattling bass reverb, sinister icy chimes, trebley whines and squalling, sibilant squelches. It's the perfect accompaniment for one of the most kick-ass Doctor Who stories.
Remembrance Of The Daleks
Picking the best Keff McCulloch score is akin to choosing your favourite venereal disease, and indeed common sense dictates that a story set in 1963 isn't the best bedfellow for the sort of compressed, tinny synth stabs favoured by the Pet Shop Boys and Eurythmics at the time, but for me it's as part of the story as Pamela Salem's big bouffant.
The aural legacy of the story that changed Doctor Who's fortunes overnight are the Radiophonic sounds Thal Wind (who knew the fey Aryans were martyrs to indigestion?) and Dalek Control Room, two FX cues which have had more comebacks than Lulu. The latter's distinctive heartbeat sound is still employed in Dalek serials to this day, causing much fanboy pants-soiling when heard as Rose woke up on the Daleks' mothership in The Parting Of The Ways.
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