Docker's Guild: The Heisneberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds Of Future Past
Under the guise of Docker's Guild, Douglas R Docker made a huge impression with his progressive rock/space opera debut, The Mystical Technocracy: Season One The Age Of Ignorance. In fact the clamour of excitement round the net was palpable as a Pledge campaign was mooted to help fund the next stage in this project's evolution, the equally convolutedly titled The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds Of Future Past. Now, when I heard the premise of this album, I must admit to having been beside myself with excitement: classic UK TV and worldwide movie Sci-Fi theme tunes reimagined into a prog rock setting. As someone who has a guilty secret of collecting TV theme compilations and making my own TV music collections, I could barely imagine something better. The themes to classics such as Doctor Who, Space 1999, UFO, Barbarella, Flash Gordon and many more, updated, booted in the arse via guitars, synths and drums and given a progressive twist.
Therefore, as someone who genuinely thinks of himself as the target audience of this album and a fan of the Docker's Guild debut, it pains me to tell you that I can find little of excitement across this entire, lengthy release. The phrase damp-squib doesn't even come close. I mean, how can anyone suck the life out of the Doctor Who theme and take it from being an eerie, unsettling masterpiece and into being a gentle jaunt that barely threatens to warm your cocoa, never mind sear the senses? In fact this track alone is a great example of why most, if not all of the pieces fall a mile short of the atmosphere and grandeur the originals displayed. For no matter how intricate, skilled and powerful the drumming is, the main melody line simply does not need overworked hi-hat to shuffle and clatter along as toms are rattled at every available opportunity. However remove the troublesome percussion and all you'd be left with is twee lift music. It really isn't good.
Turn your attention to "Flash Gordon Suite", which takes you through a selection of the original Queen soundtrack to the film and you're reminded of one thing: just how integral the dialogue is in taking an album of (genuine) background music and turning it into an engaging trip through a movie you know so well. Here that dialogue is missing and so is the vibrancy and potency of pieces of music that fitted the film so well, but which on their own were far from Queen's most exhilarating moments. The title cut from the film is lived out with lyrics intact, Amanda Somerville making a good fist of reliving words sung by one of the best vocalists there's been, without ever coming close to troubling the original.
I could go on, "Barbarella" a playful but ineffectual romp, "Never Ending Story" proving that the reason Limahl's original is still a wonderful piece of music, is that it wasn't cluttered by double bass drum dive bombings, hi-hat shenanigans and chugalug riffs. Clumsy doesn't come close. The theme to "Red Dwarf" probably fares best out everything presented here, the broad synth strokes employed actually allowing the results to hit home like Vangelis covering the song, while once Valentina Procopio's vocals kick in, you could almost be listening to the original.
Maybe my love of most of the original music reimagined on this album has completely clouded my judgment, or maybe it is a case of expectation not realised, I'm not sure. However this second album from Docker's Guild rates depressingly high on the disappointment scale and rather than an album to cherish, this is simply one that leaves you scratching your head.
To be fair to Douglas, he has on a music forum I sometimes visit, explained that the physical version of this album (I'm reviewing from a download) goes into great detail to explain the idea and execution behind it. In short it is a labour of love and intended, first and foremost, to please the twelve year old who first dreamed it up… Douglas himself. Therefore on that level it must work. However I thought I was also that twelve year old and it does very, very little for me.
1. Space: 1999 Year One Main Theme
2. Flash Gordon Suite
a. Flash's Theme
b. In the Space Capsule (The Love Theme)
c. Football Fight
d. Flash to the Rescue
e. Vultan's Theme (Attack of the Hawkmen)
f. Battle Theme
g. The Hero
5. When the Wind Blows
6. The Neverending Story
7. Red Dwarf Theme
8. The White Light /Echoes From The Past /Dying Station /Delenn's Sunrise (from Babylon 5's final episode "Sleeping in Light")
9. Doctor Who Main Theme
10. UFO Main Theme
11. The Black Hole End Title
12. Space-Patrol (Raumpatrouille)
13. Dune Suite
b. Main Title
c. Leto's Theme
d. The Floating Fat Man (The Baron)
e. Paul Meets Chani
f. Take My Hand
14. Space: 1999 Year Two Main Theme
Added: March 2nd 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Docker's Guild online
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