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Crusade (Soundtrack) by Evan H. Chen

Tracksounds Rating = 2/10

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Composed by Evan H. Chen
Performed by Evan H. Chen and Way M. Spurr-Chen
Released by Sonic Images November 1999

Track Title Time Rating Different Isn't Always Better
by Christopher Coleman

What a wild ride Evan H. Chen’s music for the television mini-series, Crusade, is.  The first and last tracks are the most traditional…and it is a stretch to say that.  The rest of the score might be summed up by saying that it is really out there.  A baptism of electronic rhythms and synths await the listener, so take heed.  One might not anticipate such music for another space epic, but as an offshoot of the Babylon 5 series, one shouldn’t be too surprised at its unique approach.  Christopher Franke, composer of the sibling-series, Babylon 5, was bypassed in order to bring a fresh approach to the musical component of the new series.  Evan H. Chen, a classically instructed pianist from Shanghai, certainly brings a unique sound to the digital canvas.  At least on the surface of the music, there is little to reflect that “classical” training he received.  Chen was given full license to experiment.  The end result is, to say the least, different.   Unfortunately, different does always equal listenable. 

Of all the tracks the first and last are the most enjoyable, as they are the closest things to  distinguishable themes.  The Main Title, like the rest of the tracks, seems to be built layer upon layer of synthesized instruments, drum machines, and sound effects.  This track has somewhat of a nice rhythm, but the actual theme is not easily discerned unless one listens to it at least two times.   The music builds and builds but then ends very abruptly. The Main Title  earns the highest rating of the CD with 3 stars (***). Rather than a heroic atmosphere being established though the theme, one of other-worldly-schizophrenia is constructed instead.

Hyperspace, track 2, seems to tip its hat to Alexander Courage’s theme for Star Trek in the first couple of notes.  Intentional or not, I say, “Nice touch!”  However from there it falls into the dark regions of electronic pulses, sizzles, and warped instrumentation.  At times there seems be some sort of chanting in the background.  If there were sound in space, I suppose this is what most people would think they might hear.  At about two minutes things change with a little more cohesion as established by more electronic rhythms. 

Future Pleasure, track 3, certainly reminds one of Serra’s work for The Fifth Element.  This is a rather aggressive rhythm with tons of electronic clicks, crashes, and diddies- sort of like Pee Wee’s Playhouse goes to Warp 9. 

One of the more identifiable tracks comes in track 4, Elizabeth.  A simple piano comprises the majority of this piece, with synths fading in and out from time to time.   As the track progresses, the flute returns.  This track would qualify as the subtlest.

This is a difficult score to rate.  While immensely different and creative, most of the tracks are  not  easy to listen to.  There is little in the human experience that score reflects- maybe such music will reflect the human experience in centuries to come.  As techno, not to mention chaotic, as our society is and is becoming, only a small selection would find this sort of music easy to identify with.  The score for Crusade was a huge opportunity for Chen and hopefully will open further doors for him to demonstrate his talent.  He may have even more to offer in a more traditional setting.   The producers decided to roll the dice on this one.  For continuity's sake, going with Christopher Franke might not have been such a bad idea; afterall, the Jerry Goldsmith-Star Trek relationship has seemed to work.

1 Main Title 1:30 ***
2 Hyperspace 5:46 *
3 Future Pleasure 2:46 *
4 Elizabeth 3:39 **
5 Galen's Wrath 4:42 *
6 Sorrow 6:57 none
7 Shanghai Tan 2:58 *
8 Patterns of Soul 6:41 none
9 Alwyn's Story 6:13 none
10 Mars Dome 5:03 none
11 Battlestation 3:15 none
12 Rainbow 2:22 none
13 Visitors 6:24 *
14 Invasion 5:37 *
15 My Way 3:09 *
16 End Credits 0:36 **
  Total Playing Time 68:08    



Film Continuity 2  
Themes/ Composition 1  
Originality 5  
CD Length 5  
Track Order 5  
Performance 1  
Final Score 2  

Other reviews:

It's not unknown for a score to work brilliantly in its film or show, but fail miserably as a listening experience on album. The failure of Chen's music for Crusade, however, spans both realms. One of the reasons the scores for Crusade did not function was because Chen seems to disobey one of the very first rules of film/TV scoring: respecting the scene...Overall, this music is a disaster. It assisted in the sinking of the show, and the massive 68+ minutes of it here will tell you why. In and of itself, it simply is not interesting or functional music; compared to Franke's contribution, it's a total mess. FRISBEE

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks

Composer Evan H. Chen
Evan H. Chen

Crusade (Soundtrack) by Evan H. Chen
If the listening experience is divorced from the any relationship with the story, the music sounds like an avant-garde New Age piece that combines outer-space imaginations with Chinese accents and unusual sound effects (like babies laughing in "My Way").  It can be seen as a creative work of pure individual expression which defies conventional boundaries of music, which could be of interest to people who like the unorthodox.  It is just too bad it has nothing to do with the story for which it is named. *

Helen San - Cinemusic

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All artwork from Crusade is exclusive property of Sonic Images (c) 1999.  Its appearance is for imformational purposes only.


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