Review: M. Hamauzu Piano Works

After Masashi Hamauzu’s abrupt departure from Square Enix following the completion of the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack, Hamauzu’s name has popped up through his unique music duo, IMERUAT, and for various arrangements he’s done in the videogame industry. This album, however, marks his first solo effort since that time, taking a nod from his past SaGa Frontier piano album and Vielen Dank to bring together a collection of short piano pieces.

Read our impressions below.

The album consists of a series of short piano pieces. They almost feel more like sketches as they generally fall in between one-to-two minutes in length, with a couple crossing the three minute mark.

The compositions are mainly a dreamy and thoughtful experience sprinkled with Hamauzu’s signature playful style thrown in to make sure you’re not nodding off (I’ve done it a number of times while listening). There’s a great atmosphere and a palpable sense of space featured in the recording that makes use of what sounds to be the natural reverb of the recording space. The pieces are performed by Benyamin Nuss, who does an excellent job drawing out the emotions within these pieces.

After many shorter pieces, the final track, “T_comp1,” is a lengthier affair at over four minutes in length. It feels cohesive with the rest of the material, gliding along and building much of the same soothing atmosphere found elsewhere on the album.

The disc comes housed in a simple grey cardboard fold-out sleeve. There’s a booklet with text in Japanese, and not much else. The simplicity of it adds a touch of elegance.

Overall, this is definitely a must for any Hamauzu fan. Despite the short track lengths and lack of ties to videogames, it provides a wonderful and relaxing listening experience, and fortunately, the MONOMUSIK international store is stocking it. It’s good to see Hamauzu expressing himself outside of videogame projects, and his fans are certainly benefiting from his new found freedom.

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