MUSIC REVIEW: bc likes you! – The Doctor Who EP
bc likes you!, the solo pop/Chiptune project of Rochester-based Robert Mostyn, has released the Doctor Who EP of your dreams (if your dreams are anything like mine, that is).
The three-track Doctor Who EP is an intense foray into 8-bit electronica, appealing to the sci-fi geek in some of us and the dancer in others—and, on those rare occasions where those two qualities overlap: both. According to his bio, B.C. creates all of his music “using two gameboys, a guitar and a vocoder” (for the uninitiated like myself, a vocoder is a type of synthesizer frequently used for vocal synthesis in pop—ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” being a prime example).
The Doctor Who EP opens with “Four Knocks,” a track referencing a story arc that began in Series Four Doctor Who special, “Planet of the Dead.”
Freaky, right? The four knocks become a recurring omen within the series and are said to signify the Doctor’s imminent death. In keeping with this portentous message, B.C. opens “Four Knocks” with a bracing staccato that sucks you in from the moment you press play. The opening plunges into a contagious and hurried eight-bit melody with an irresistible beat.
The beauty of this track is how well it aligns with the story arc, paralleling the overall feel of the Doctor’s journey and discoveries. “Four Knocks” begins with excitement and optimism: “To the end of time / We could be together / There is so much for us to see,” ultimately giving way to the heartbreaking concession that, as ever with the Doctor, anything beyond fleeting companionship is impossible: “You need to stay away from me / It’s for your own safety.” This sentiment reinforces the Doctor’s intense desire to appreciate everything while it lasts: there is so much to see and love in the universe, but none of it will last forever. Do we dwell on the fact that it will someday be gone, or do we use this knowledge to appreciate everything all the more intensely while it lasts?
The track echoes the complex rises and falls, adventurous moments, giddy energy, and periods of uncertainty that characterize the Doctor’s story, punctuated by surges of emotion.
“Bad Wolf,” the EP’s second track, is perhaps the most reminiscent of the 8-bit games of your childhood. Familiar 8-bit sounds populate the first seconds and continue throughout the song, backed by a dance-worthy beat. As much as we all love the Gameboy staples, “Bad Wolf” is certainly a refreshing alternative.
The term “Bad Wolf” refers to another story arc in the revived Doctor Who series: The phrase is scattered generously throughout the Series 1, and is again peppered throughout later story lines, becoming intrinsically linked with the Doctor’s companion, Rose Tyler. The lyrics in “Bad Wolf” detail the emotional turbulence of the Series Four finale, in which Rose is left in a parallel dimension with Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor: “You’re leaving me / With someone I don’t know / I mean I guess it’s kind of you / But it’s still not the same.”
The voice of Rose laments her Fate without the “real” Doctor, but wonders if she can go on with a quasi-copy of the Time Lord she loves. In the end, she resolves to “stay strong,” recapitulating the entropic message of the Bad Wolf: “I can see / The whole of space and time / Everything dies, / Everything dies / All must turn to dust.”
The EP’s final track, entitled “The Last Centurion & The Girl Who Waited,” is a nod to latter seasons featuring the Eleventh Doctor’s companions, Amy Pond (“the girl who waited”), and Rory Williams (“the last centurion”). The reference to Amy as “the girl who waited” can be explained by the Series Six episode of the same name. The intricacies of Rory’s nickname (along with the meaning behind it) are difficult to recount unless you watch the Series Five two-part finale, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” a complex timey-wimey narrative that ultimately underscores Rory’s devotion to Amy, and is a testament to the profound love they share.
This track is statement on Amy and Rory’s relationship, which is tumultuous—particularly when Amy, and subsequently Rory, begin traveling with the Doctor—but enduring. “The Last Centurion & The Girl Who Waited” is written as a dialogue between the pair, opening with Amy’s punch-drunk fascination with the Doctor, as is most evident in Amy’s earliest appearances in Series Five: “Isn’t he so terrific? / Let’s follow him wherever he goes / I’ve known him since I was a girl / Now he’s come back for me.” Rory, confused, afraid, and somewhat resentful of his love interest’s infatuation, replies: “I don’t know / It seems unsafe.”
This song maintains an eclectic melody and punchy beat throughout, building up to a culmination and ultimate reconciliation between the two voices: “I’m sorry I was stubborn / It’s okay as long as you’re safe / Won’t you please come with us? / I will as long as you’re there.”
The Doctor Who EP is a creative venture into yet-untouched musical territory. In it, B.C. capitalizes on the dynamism and unique character of 8-bit sound to create a symphonic sci-fi feel, capturing the essence of this beloved television program through music and lyric. This genre has widespread allure to electronica buffs and science-fiction enthusiasts—and everyone in between. Speaking from experience, it is truly worth a snowy Saturday listen—and it’s going on my party playlist, for sure.
To stream or download The Doctor Who EP, or to learn more about bc loves you!, click here. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!