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Retrospective: Ghost Light Soundtrack

Ghost Light, personally speaking, is one of the real highlights of Sylvester McCoy’s era on Doctor Who. Dark, mysterious, and complicated with a cast that really do give it their all, this was bold TV drama that wouldn’t be out of place in the new run of Doctor Who. To give it even more kudos, it was also the last story to produced during the original “classic series” run. Its soundtrack, by Mark Ayres, was originally released in 1993 and this new edition has been remastered from the original analogue stereo master tapes. Plus, as a real extra, we get the original demos for Episode One.
Kicking off with the rather bland Opening Theme, things shift into gear with The Madhouse, which sets the tone for the whole release. Ethereal with a bizarre, reoccurring howl and synthesiser strings, it grabs your attention and leaves you totally unsettled. Uncharted Territory is tribal, packed with brass stings that dates it slightly and would have been more powerful if it had been recorded by a full orchestra, but it does give it a charm if its own. The tribal motif continues in Heart Of The Interior whilst Enter Josiah is a brisk yet important dramatic interlude that is as mysterious as the character itself. The church organ pipes are given carte blanche for Nimrod Observed, a pivotal moment from the story which blends perfectly into Time To Emerge. The wonderfully entitled Burnt Toast is probably the most romantic piece, sweeping with delicate pipes attached to it punctuated by industrial clanging.
As the story progresses and Ace becomes more and more involved, the music continues to darken, evocative of that rich Victorian setting and brooding enough to haunt Sophie Aldred’s character, and become more cinematic; Loss Of Control could easily come from a late ’80s John Carpenter movie, it’s that good. Even the slightly lighter moments such as The Hungry Inspector hold a sinister resonance which keeps the listener totally engaged. Out Of The Shadows and Light Enlightened are stark contrasts to each other but gripping nonetheless, creating the backdrop to some of the best Doctor Who that the JNT period created. More cinematic scenes are created with Tropic Of Perivale and Tricks Of The Light that have themes from the earlier tracked embedded within them. When we arrive at Passing Thoughts, we are still experiencing a masterful piece of scoring which is dulled only by the Doctor Who (Closing Theme).
As I said at the start, this disc comes with the demos from Episode One which highlights how some of the pieces were originally conceived and later tweaked, which is a substantial extra.
I love this CD: it’s moody and, in places, quite magnificent, proving Ayres truly got hold of the concept and gave the story an added depth. If only he’d been given an orchestra to record this music with… Now there’s a release I’d queue up to buy. But still in this form it is highly recommended.
This Ghost Light soundtrack CD, out now, is a must have for any fan of the Seventh Doctor!

(Adapted from an article originally published on Kasterborous in September 2013.)

James Whittington

Retrospective: Ghost Light Soundtrack

by James Whittington time to read: 2 min
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