Thursday, October 6, 2011

Listening to the Doctor

I saw the doctor the other day, and was rather pleased with what I found.

I decided to see the doctor again. And again.

Who is this Doctor of which I write?

Who indeed.

The British science fiction show Doctor Who has always been somewhat of a mystery. It was never embraced in the house of my youth. It was written off as some bizarre concoction of those crazy limeys across the pond.

What captured a spark of interest in the program recently can be attributed somewhat to Murray Gold's work on the new series. His episodic music seemed to capture every right nuance of the show's smart and quirky dialogue. Gold's arrangement of the Doctor Who Theme, written by Ron Grainer, was well worth purchasing the compilation disc released by Silva.

There is an ample amount of music on the album. The disc covers portions of season one and two of the reformed show. Also included are two source songs sung by Divine Comedy front man Neil Hannon. The music itself is a mixture of styles, performed by a combination of acoustic and synthetic instruments.

The listening experience is varied, since this is a compilation album. There are some genuinely interesting tracks scattered throughout. "Cassandra's Waltz" is an off-kilter number for piano and synthesizers. "Madame de Pompadour" evokes a more somber atmosphere, with its simple, music box like melody over strings.

A solo, wordless voice (Melanie Pappenheim) sings over electronic bass accompaniment and strings in "Doomsday", the longest track of the album. This opening section leads into a restatement of the theme with greater accompaniment; drum kit and guitar kick up the piece rhythmically speaking. The whole piece is dominated by the harmony for the theme, such as when the cello (electrically modified?) takes over briefly as the soloist.

Like the show, the album is worth looking into. Murray Gold's soundscape for the show has enhanced the entertainment value of the Doctor's exploits for the entirety of the relaunch, and this disc exemplifies well why and how.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Score One for Randomness

It is sometimes difficult to pick a score or two to take for the road. I still use CDs as MP3 players lack a certain personal aesthetic value.

I gaze at my meager collection of 500 and wonder "what shall I listen to today?"

Things were much simpler back in the early days of my hobby. I can recall owning only a handful of scores, playing them over and over. Those were the days when the public library had more film music in their catalogs than I owned. I would occasionally borrow a disc or two, though their copies were soiled and scratched beyond belief.

Today, I look at composers first, then type of film score. There are times I end up not choosing anything. This seems to be the case more and more. Paralysis by analysis as they say...

So I decided a score at random the other day. I ended up with Shirley Walker's "Memoirs of and Invisible Man".

I had not listened to "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" for years; I could not even remember it's sound. Regardless, I hoped it would be a suitable distraction from the daily commute.

As I listened to this score in the car, I began to wonder about the composer, her life and works. The score, in part, recalled Walker's work with "Batman", which I chose for the next day's ride. These two scores have sparked a certain level of interest in Shirley Walker, to uncover some more of her works.

Sometimes, I pick a good listening experience with careful consideration. This random selection, though, afforded me a good, reflective listening experience.