Doctor Who: The Krotons soundtrack review

Review Andrew Blair 12 Apr 2013 - 06:16

Some fine Doctor Who work from Brian Hodgson gets a CD release in May. Here's Andrew's review of the soundtrack to The Krotons...

Brian Hodgson: inventor of the TARDIS dematerialisation noise (included on this disc), techbod for the original Dalek voices, and ambient soundscape purveyor to the stars. His legacy lives on in the current iteration of the Radiophonic Workshop, and restoration work by Mark Ayres. YouTube footage of a 'reunion gig' from 2009 can and should be searched for.

For those who aren't curious about the legacy of an old BBC department, old Doctor Who soundtracks are more useful than you might think. Trust me, you haven't Laserquested until you've laserquested to the soundtrack of Caves Of Androzani, and also acknowledged that 'Laserquested' is definitely a word.

What you could do to the soundtrack of The Krotons (the debut Doctor Who story for pipe-smoking extraordinaire, Robert Holmes) is chiefly sit back, relax, and enjoy what sounds like a computer getting stoned out of its box. (Den Of Geek would like to remind readers that this is illegal and impossible, though advances in AI are being made all the time, and Samsung netbooks are a pretty decent placeholder until such a breakthrough finally arrives.)

The work of the Radiophonic Workshop has influenced many contemporary electronica musicians (heading over to the Warp Records label website as research resulted in a startling song being played, which is a terribly example of what I'm talking about but was still a tune, so there you go). Brian Hodgson's soundscapes and scores sound exactly like Boards of Canada shorn of percussion at times, full of repetitive drones, beeps, glitches and burbles that lull you along pleasantly, or shock you from this synth-induced torpor.

After watching The Krotons, you aren't immediately struck by the soundtrack, but listening to the music without the images is certainly evocative. You start seeing things in monochrome, imagining Patrick Troughton's moptop flicking hither and yon as he panics in front of a computer bank. The pieces here aren't obviously emotive, or dynamic (except as a whole, where occasional bursts of drone noise follow some quieter synth sounds), or especially catchy, but Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe is it atmospheric. Shorn of the context of a 60s TV soundtrack, it's excellent ambient background music, but if you've ever watched TV of that era it immediately summons up images of robots and rockets, force fields and lasers. And someone doing an enjoyably crap American accent.

Within the context, it's enjoyable to witness 37-second-long sound effects entitled Door Opens, and imagine people milling around impatiently for half a minute before leaving a room. Some of the shorter tracks, as sound effects, are definitely things that you could update your computer's System Sounds to.

It's an intriguing listen in comparison to contemporary scores. There's little to no chance of the BBC commissioning Autechre or F**k Buttons to score an episode, although maybe a little Carey Blyton homage might crop up in Murray Gold's score. If you're not up for a comparison of then and now, The Krotons soundtrack is definitely worth a look for fans of ambient and electronic music, and fans may wish to look into Hodgson's work between his spells at the Radiophonic Workshop; recordings of synthesised classical music under the name Electrophon with Dudley Simpson, work with Delia Derbyshire, and an experimental synth project called Wavemaker.

However, The Krotons' suitability for providing the soundtrack to a pleasant afternoon's Laserquesting is yet to be verified.

Doctor Who: The Krotons soundtrack is out on the 13th May.

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