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An Adventure in Space and Time Soundtrack Review

David Selby reviews the soundtrack release for the Doctor Who docudrama.

adventure-in-space-and-time-sountrack-cover

In preparation for this review, I had the pleasure of re-watching An Adventure in Space and Time a couple of weeks back. As an emotional, often hilarious depiction of the team of wonderful and unlikely people who started Doctor Who, it remains my favourite BBC movie of all time – and thus entirely warrants a score to fit that demanding bill.

An Adventure in Space and Time was scored by Edmund Butt (The Dark, In the Flesh and Life on Mars among other film and television credits). Butt had not just his own high track-record to compete with, but the diversity and ingenuity of Doctor Who’s Murray Gold. Within the space of an hour and a half, he most definitely succeeded.

Because if there’s one thing Adventure’s score demonstrates perfectly, its sheer variety. The twenty-five-track album moves from the dark, atmospheric vibrations of The Daleks to the twinkling madness of Piss & Vinegar and from the cheerful excitement of The Fans to the utterly heart-breaking melancholic qualities in I’m so sorry, Bill. Others – such as Kill Dr. Who – are reminiscent of blockbuster tragedy scores. Butt creates a mood for every situation; he instils ambiance where it’s needed and pumps adrenalin where silence would be flat.

There are recurring motifs, imaginatively embedded within the ‘story’ of the soundtrack which takes us through Hartnell’s narrative. You’ll also recognise the warming Scarlett O’hara from several points during the docu-drama. Tracks which are more ambitiously-titled – those which set themselves a simple but demanding premise, such as The TARDIS and Goodbye Susan – entirely live up to their foundations.

The atmosphere alone makes the soundtrack worthy of purchase; it’s continuously haunting and magical with an almost unearthly range of dynamics and harmony. Whilst you could in places accuse the soundtrack of repetition, at only £7.99, it’s hardly fair to criticise it for being overpriced.

Here is a selection of my favourite tracks from the album:

The First Woman Producer/I’ve Got an Idea?

These two tracks are easy to associate with each other, for they’re both as eventful and upbeat as the BBC itself. Part of their charm is that you’re not quite sure which instrument will come in next. Divinely-layered, they’re a joy to the ears.

This Is My show

My personal favourite track from the album, This is My Show is recommended with the aid of tissues. It has an exquisite awareness of timbre; the instruments and how they interact with each other give off a haunting ‘feel’ and as the tune kicks in – backed by warping sounds not unlike A River of Tears – it’s a heartrending composition. You’ll want to re-listen as soon as it’s finished, even if it does pull vehemently at the heartstrings.

JFK Assassinated

There’s something very Sherlock-y about JFK Assassinated, with the notes that could be either vocals or strings; the heavy, booming undertones and the sliding, sweeping percussion. Drum beats rumble as the tension racks up and it’s quite clear that Edmund Butt had an absolute ball experimenting with an ambience he hadn’t got his hands on before. It’s followed by The TARDIS which is completely different in tone but equally listenable and inimitable.

Goodbye Susan

A soft, evocative combination of strings lead into a string and brass section to orchestra Hartnell’s profound goodbye to co-star Carole Ann Ford. He doesn’t like farewells.

I’m so Sorry, Bill

A re-working of Hartnell’s theme introduced in track two, The Right Man, I’m so Sorry Bill depicts the poignant real-life dénouement of the first Doctor as he is finally ousted from the role which ultimately defined him. It begins with the familiar sweet low-key arrangement we’ve heard before but tones down midway to allow room for some graceful piano notes to be played over a vibrating undertone. The end result is of something genuinely moving, granting the listener the chance to step inside Hartnell’s shoes as he prepares to say a final farewell to the Doctor.

Kiss Goodbye

Kiss Goodbye is one of the shorter tracks and for that reason I fear it will be overlooked. It feels more violin/cello—based making it somewhat more distinct from the other tracks. It’s a short, simple but extraordinarily beautiful melody.

ISOP Galaxy

ISOP Galaxy is a simpler, darker variation of Hartnell’s theme which accompanied the early stages of his illness in the night. It’s something very different from what I’m used to hearing but overall it was a hugely successful experiment.

The New Doctor

Arguably the highlight of the album, The New Doctor is the longest and perhaps most memorable track of the selection. The angel-like vocals kick in and the strings increase in power for a heart-stopping climax which transitions into some woodwind, building up gradually until where the credits would be. Rather than just concluding with the opening title music, Butt is more ambitious and chooses to finish on a high – but I’ll let you purchase the soundtrack to see exactly what that entails.

Time’s Up

The opening title music with a small – but, nonetheless, valued – addition of some haunting keys and what I’d presume to be pads of some kind at the beginning. The titles are inventive with their use of percussion; and indeed it’s Butt’s unconventional use of percussion that gives his tracks such originality.

There’s no doubt about my conclusion: this is a must-buy album. It’s taking a ridiculously long time for a Day/Time release, but this will do more than tide the time over while we wait. Edmund Butt brings something brand new to Doctor Who, but it makes you realise that it would have been a catastrophe had he never had the chance to score An Adventure in Space and Time because no one else could have done the job so wonderfully.

Verdict: 10/10

Step back in time...

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36 comments
ponchopanda
ponchopanda

You know what would be even better than the soundtrack getting released...

THE ACTUAL FILM ON DVD FOR THE UNITED STATES

seriously this is the best piece of cinema I have ever seen and the fact that they don't have it on a us format is insane.

DasManiac
DasManiac

It's a shame that those of us that live outside the UK won't get be able to get this movie or the soundtrack.

gwylock1
gwylock1

Two things make this hard for me to take seriously... "The diversity and ingenuity of Doctor Who’s Murray Gold." and Saying that any of this soundtrack was repetitive (especially in comparison to the Series 5 OST!). But aside from those two things, this was a rather good review.



The Grey Ghost
The Grey Ghost

While I found the music flawless, the one change I would have made would have been to have a callback to 'I am the Doctor' when Matt Smith appeared.

Gustaff
Gustaff

After Jormungand and Soul Eater, I need another great soundtrack. I will get this one David. I will.

The Finn
The Finn

The soundtrack of AAISAT is great that in none of the tracks really overpower the scenes they accompany – something I fear some of Gold's tracks have done. There are really only a few tracks I can clearly link to a specific scene – which is a good thing in my books.

That Awkward Silent
That Awkward Silent

An excellent review that really sums up my feelings about the album. 



But seriously where is that Day/Time soundtrack?

Bollyknickers
Bollyknickers

I hope you all enjoyed the review.   I've been listening recently to some of the old Doctor Who soundtracks and I think I can say, truthfully, that this is my favourite.  The mood it captures, and the story it tells, is really like nothing I've ever encountered in the past - and perhaps nothing I ever will again.  So if you have a spare £8 then don't waste any time - it's well-worth your money, and if you like it then I'd recommend some of Butt's other scores.  They're not quite to the same standard but his work on Ashes to Ashes is great and if you can find any of the unreleased afterlife stuff on YouTube that's worth a listen.  Thanks for reading.


TARDlSkey
TARDlSkey

Another great review, David. I've been unsure about it myself. I mean, I adore it, but I wasn't sure whether I adored it enough to buy it separately. But I'm a fool. I reward he'd the episode last night and fell in love with it all over again. Once I get my next pay, I think it's top of the list on what to buy! :D

DasManiac
DasManiac

@ponchopanda I too would like it out in the US. Unfortunately it doesn't seem likely that the film will get a release anywhere outside the UK.

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

You can't get the movie on DVD but I watched it on iTunes, and it's amazing. Also I think the soundtrack will be on iTunes like the Doctor Who ones. If you don't use iTunes, the movie will probably be on Netflix at some point.

Bollyknickers
Bollyknickers

@gwylock1  It was repetitive for the reason that certain tracks - like Dressing Room - were pretty much the same as tracks from earlier on, but the soundtrack still had a mixture of tracks.  There were twenty-five tracks; let's say five are repetitive, that's still twenty diverse themes.  As for Murray, whatever you think of his music, you can't deny it's varied - you only need to take a look at the Series 7 OST for that.



Tardis Stowaway
Tardis Stowaway

@The Administrator A lot of tracks in those episodes were reused, so maybe the few new ones that popped up might be bundled with Series 8's soundtrack?

Gustaff
Gustaff

@The Genie Remember a while back I told you I'd be getting all the soundtracks. Well guess who went out and bought like 20 soundtacks (not just DW).

DasManiac
DasManiac

@gwylock1 @DasManiacNot in America. We're Region 1 and the UK is Region 2. It wouldn't be compatible with American DVD/Blu-ray players. As for the soundtrack, that's an import and much more expensive.

gwylock1
gwylock1

@The Genie @gwylock1  Murray Gold has about 7 different tunes that he smashes together in different ways. That makes up 90% of his Doctor Who work. None of the AISAT tracks were musically identical and they rarely even referenced each other.

Lord of Time
Lord of Time

Refresh my memory to the point of region locks?

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

@DasManiac @gwylock1 Most DVD players come region locked, but have you checked to see if you can unlock yours? I did it with mine and it was really simple, it's a R4 player but all I had to do was follow instructions on internet and now I can play R1 and R2 DVDs with no trouble. I'll admit there's no getting around blu-rays though.

floppy_who
floppy_who

@DasManiac @gwylock1 Are there still such things as Multi-Region DVD Players anymore? They used to be very common in the late 90s / early 00s when the States got all the best DVD releases and the only way to view them was to import them into the UK.

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

The soundtracks usually come out on iTunes in America a couple months after they are released in the UK.

DasManiac
DasManiac

@gwylock1 @DasManiacIt's a BBC DVD so I assume it's Region Locked. I've never heard of the BBC having Region Free Doctor Who DVD's. As for the soundtrack, it's definitely not available here. Neither on Amazon or iTunes. I guess there must be some sort of rights issue preventing a release for Regions 1, 3, and 4. It's not available in Canada as I checked Amazon.ca as well.

gwylock1
gwylock1

@DasManiac @gwylock1  I don't know what your'e on about, the dvds work just fine in both region 1 and 2, not sure about blurays... and the soundtrack is also available to buy as an mp3 download ;)

gwylock1
gwylock1

@The Genie @gwylock1  I'm not trying to be rude, and I'm sorry if I've offended you. And I'm glad to know SOMEONE watches my videos :P

Bollyknickers
Bollyknickers

@gwylock1 @The Genie  Please don't be rude to me.  I know you're a composer; I watch your videos avidly.  Sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but please don't snap.

gwylock1
gwylock1

@The Genie @gwylock1  I'm a composer myself, and I know of what I speak. Please stop trying to negate my opinion and present your own as fact. Thanks ;)

Bollyknickers
Bollyknickers

@gwylock1 @The Genie  But he has so many superlative compositions it seems unfair for me to criticise him.  I enjoy certain artists because of, say, three or four tracks; Murray has composed over a handful of 'masterpieces', so even taking just them into consideration he's a bloody good composer, and someone whom I've always looked up to as a composer myself.

gwylock1
gwylock1

@The Genie @gwylock1  I still dislike Murray's work very much overall. If you take away all the fancy orchestration, it's all basically the same and and I'm getting sick and tired of it. Give me Berlioz or Vivaldi any day.

Bollyknickers
Bollyknickers

@gwylock1 @The Genie  Quite a few had the same.  It's not a problem; it's a leitmotif, but when you go through Hartnell's theme is recurrent.  There are also elements of The New Doctor in Autograph Hunting.   And 90%?  There are a lot of variations but I'd disagree with that figure.  And certainly there's nothing wrong with 'smashing together' tunes if they're good and if done well.  Considering many TV series have the same music week on week, or no individual music at all, Murray does exceptionally well.