Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Joseph LoDUCA Xena - Warrior Princess Vol 4 VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6031 [71:32]






As far as TV mythological heroes, are concerned, our household has split loyalties. The ladies swoon over Hercules' biceps while the feisty Xena can throw her discus, or any other part of herself, in my direction any time! What a woman!

Joseph LoDuca's busy and versatile pen greatly assists in enhancing the thrills, building the atmosphere and lifting the credibility of this TV fantasy hokum. His richly textured scores and inventive orchestrations impress too. At over 70 minutes duration, this is a very generous helping from Varèse. The booklet notes are sparse almost non-existent with only track titles to guide the listener. It appears that music for four stories is included plus two bonus cues.

Chin: The Debt, comprises seven cues of exotic oriental music with, in the first exciting 'Caesar's Mark' cue, a choir in virile Carl Orff mode. 'Flying Ninjas' is a rhythmically stimulating cue featuring an array of percussion and woods. 'Execution of Xena' has a woman's chorus chanting over menacing brushed cymbals and bells. The score for this episode also contains music that is more sympathetic and compassionate with elegiac strings for 'Visit to the Damned.' Extraordinarily, 'The Bath' with its soprano solo, again wordless, sounds as much Gaelic as oriental with a nice evocative wash of harp strings. In 'Taking Flight' the music does just that; again, with the soprano against feathery upper strings - it's as though we are about to embark on a magic carpet ride à la Miklos Rozsa/Thief of Baghdad.

The Destruction of Hope:Family Affair music is less interesting. 'Lambikin's Missing' is an exercise in sub-Herrmann menace with heavy snarling brass and 'Who's Who' is a creepy cue with some interesting writing for snare drum and strongly accented hand drum figures. 'Hello Beautiful' has chill winds and menace lurking behind the high strings' sweet pleasantries and the soprano's yearnings.

The most substantial part of the album is devoted to India: Devi/Between the Lines/The Way. LoDuca has clearly done his homework for he uses the Indian ethnic intruments: the sitar etc to impressive effect through the twelve cues. The music ranges from the ethereal and elegiac to the usual menacing and combative. There is plenty of dance music with sinuous, seductive rhythms. A male chorus is prominent.

Turangi: Adventures in the Sin Trade seems to evoke the heat of Africa. Voodoo ceremonies can be imagined too. I was impressed by LoDuca's multi-part choral writing for women's voices in 'Released/Spirit Dance' opening over serenely cool woods and strings, and opposing the mystical with ethnic dance figures.

Of the two bonus tracks, 'Everybody Dance Now' is a mix of country and western and Riverdance; while 'I'm in Heaven' is an incongruous crooning-style song for soprano and tenor in the style of the 1920s or '30s.

A fascinating, fun album


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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