Whoosh! Issue 34 -
July 1999

XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS --
THE FOURTH CD: A REVIEW (of sorts )

IAXS project #362
By Bret Ryan Rudnick
Copyright © 1999 held by author
Some words





The Volume 4 CD cover.

(Click on the photo to see an enlargement)


[01] The XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, VOLUME 4 CD is now available for fans of Joseph LoDuca's music. As with other CDs in the series, it is released on the Varese Sarabande label (VSD-6031), and is widely available in stores and from Internet markets. (I've used CDNOW and Tower Records online, and I like both companies).

[02] It appears that the same crew assembled the art and such as previous CDs, given the overall look and feel is so similar. As with CDs in the past, there are both relevant and puzzling aspects to the package.

[03] The cover on the jewel box predominates with an image of Xena, sword in hand. Much tinier is a kneeling Gabrielle with her staff, clad in the last incarnation of the BGSB and skirt. Next (going anti-clockwise from the main image) is an inset of Xena and Ares engaged in combat, from the third season episode THE FURIES (even though there is no music from that ep on the CD). We also see an image of Callisto that has no relevance to the CD, since none of the episodes she was in had a track on this CD (but proving once again that Callisto sells). The final inset is one of Ming T'ien. There is a sweeping background shot of horsemen from THE DEBT, which gives a nice look and feel to what can be expected inside.

[04] The major complaint with how the CD is assembled is the same as with past CDs: the appalling lack of liner notes. Other than the titles on the back cover, which are sometimes puzzling or misleading, we have no clue other than memory as to where the music came from in the show. There are several names in the "thanks to" section on the back cover with no clue as to the relevance of the names. Some of the names I recognize, but many are unfamiliar. One assumes that some of them are backup musicians, singers, etc., but we'll never know from the information supplied.



The inside of the pullout booklet really *is* in black and white!



[05] It's also painfully obvious that proofreading is becoming a lost art. "Mehndi" is misspelled as "Mendi"; "Naiyima" is misspelled as "Naima"; "Indrajit" is misspelled as Indrajeet"; and, in the most glaring example, "Alti" is mangled as "Alte."

[06] But none of the above comments have anything to do with the music, and that's what we're here for.

[07] This is a CD for hard-core fans. In it, we are treated to just over 70 minutes from some of the incidental music in Season Three and Season Four. Absent was the main title, which is fine since that appeared on more than one previous CD. The main title theme surfaces in some of the tracks anywise, and can be recognized immediately.

[08] Overall, we are reminded how fortunate we are to have a composer like Joseph LoDuca provide the inspirational music background for XENA as well as HERCULES. Joe LoDuca certainly has many stamps on his "virtual passport" over the last year or two, giving us music with roots in China and India on XENA, and Ireland, Scandinavia, and Sumeria on HERCULES, to name a few exotic locations.

[09] The CD is organized into four major sections with two additional "bonus" tracks.

[10] First off is music from CHIN: THE DEBT. "Caesar's Mark" sets the pace with sweeping music to pillage by. Much of this section puts me in mind of music from CONAN. The pace after the first track is kept up with "Flying Ninjas" which could also be titled as "music to spin plates by" and is reminiscent of some music you might hear if you've ever seen Chinese acrobats perform. (Someone needs to be reminded that Ninjas are from Japan, not China, but I digress.) In "Execution of Xena Pt. 1," punctuating drum beats heighten the sense of anticipation. This is definitely music you want to listen to with the bass turned up high on your stereo. The music goes right through you and reaches into every hidden corner of yourself. This tension continues into the next track, "Mud Bath/Enter the Dragon" which changes to a sense of resignation and destiny. "The Bath" (and "Taking Flight", the last track in this section, which sounds similar) create a mood of peace with an underlying tone of sadness that moves on to a feeling of serenity and finally, pure nirvana.

[11] THE DESTRUCTION OF HOPE: FAMILY AFFAIR incorporates incidental tracks from the "rubber monster" episode. While the episode may have been less than satisfying in explanation of Gabrielle's return, it was a very suspenseful tale and a significant aid to that was the music that accompanied the visuals. Of particular note is the track "Hello Beautiful" which is particularly creepy with the choir on the track.

[12] INDIA:DEVI/BETWEEN THE LINES/THE WAY: Right from the start of this section with the track "India's Different" the mood is very evocative of India. The feel is foreign without being cliche or watered down. Joseph LoDuca deserves much credit for taking on a musical style that, for most of us, is very unfamiliar. Of particular note (aside from the track mentioned) there are some absolutely beautiful moments in "Traveling with Eli".



The back of the pullout booklet.



[13] The last section is TURANGI: ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE. (For those of you wondering about the significance of the title, Turangi is the name of a town in King Country, also called the Western Uplands, in New Zealand.) The first track in this section is my only real complaint with the music on this CD. "Amazon Pyre" has a distinctive Native American feel to it, and I dislike the evolution of the Amazon culture as depicted in the series to more closely resemble Native American aspects. I much prefer the Amazons as depicted in HOOVES AND HARLOTS, QUEST, and A NECESSARY EVIL when they were more uniquely Amazon. I realize the Native American depiction may rest primarily with the Amazon tribe as portrayed in SIN TRADE, but I still dislike the association and would rather the Amazons be more unique instead of an imitation of something else. But that is really the only point of protest on the entire CD.

[14] This section itself is still quite good. On the "Xena vs. Alte" (sic) track, I was literally jarred from my seat when the now-familiar bars of the crucifixion scene were heard. Having been teased with those scenes throughout Season Four, it took the review of this CD for me to realize how Pavlovian the association was between those bars of that track and the extremely emotional crucifixion scene of Xena and Gabrielle, both in the recurring "vision" and in the resolving scene in IDES OF MARCH (an ep which did not appear on this CD). Finally, "Released/Spirit Dance" ended the section in triumph.

[15] Two more bonus tracks appear on the CD. We get an Irish step dance number called "Everybody Dance Now" from A TALE OF TWO MUSES, which came off much better than the visuals for that scene, and we also get the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald-esque Joxer/Gabrielle duet "I'm in Heaven" from IF THE SHOE FITS. Regardless of your Joxer/Gabrielle feelings, it's a delightful number.

[08] In looking back on it, for my money, I enjoyed CHIN: THE DEBT section best. Not that the rest of the music wasn't good, but the contrasts and spirit of that section moved me the most. In any case, it's a welcome addition to the collection.



The back of the Volume 4 CD.

(Click on the photo to see an enlargement)


Click here for a review of the first volume of the XWP Soundtrack.


Click here for a review of the second volume of the XWP Soundtrack.





Biography


Bret Ryan Rudnick Bret Ryan Rudnick
The less you know about this guy, the better. Trust me.







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