Tag Archives: Kingdom Hearts

Review: Kingdom Hearts Concert -First Breath- Album

Square Enix has taken the Kingdom Hearts series on tour, and this release represents the first collection of music made widely-available from said tour. A lot of fans have been greatly looking forward to this release, and as expected, they hit a lot of the highlights from across the series.

The album opens with “Destati” with its slow and intense buildup with lots of tension and energy in the brass and percussion sections. The beautiful “Dearly Beloved” gets a slow and measured version with doubled-up piano and harp and an offset xylophone that gives the arrangement a nice twinkle. “Traverse Town” is sleepy and slow, giving way to a nice jazz arrangement, while the rambunctious “Hand in Hand” features rolling snares and a marching band-esque approach. “Journey of KINGDOM HEARTS” offers a little of everything as a medley of locales that touches on tropical, jazz, and spooky. The slow sway of “Lazy Afternoons” is simply perfect, while “The Other Promise” is sometimes somber and other times foreboding, “Another Side” gets tense piano and woodwinds before rock percussion explodes onto the scene, and “Gearing Up” is made regal with big brass added to its playful and bouncy melody. “Destiny’s Union” is slow and dreamy with a doubled-up piano and harp and a flute lead, “The Unknown” is tense with low xylophone notes and steady brass stabs, “The Power of Darkness” gets big brass and percussion and cool triangle and chime work. Finally, “March Caprise for Piano & Strings” is a triumphant and bombastic march.

In all, this might be the definitive way to enjoy the music of Kingdom Hearts! The packaging is also quite nice, coming in a glossy cardboard sleeve. Grab it on CD Japan if you’re interested.

Review: KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 2.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack

Having never explored the Kingdom Hearts soundtracks with their initial release, I’ve relished being able to experience them for the first time in this beautiful ReMIX version. I dug into the 1.5 ReMIX soundtrack a few weeks back, but I have to say that 2.5 ReMIX is even better. It’s much darker and heavier than 1.5, and it features recorded parts with the super talented Video Game Orchestra based out of Boston.

There’s so much music here to love, starting with a slower and more contemplative “Dearly Beloved” that sets the tone for the album. The vocal theme, “Passion,” gets a catchy ethereal version to start and end the game, but also a big orchestral version. It’s a fantastic track that will be stuck in your head for weeks. From there, “Lazy Afternoons” is simply gorgeous with its orchestral instrumentation, “Sinister Sundown” impresses with its decisive strings and marching snare, and “Tension Rising” brings big brass and ominous organ and some neat scale runs. “Kairi” gets a healing version this time around, while “Roxas” sports a rather tragic quality. “Magical Mystery” is unsettling with its out of tune piano and off-time bell tolls, while “*Organization XIII’ is ominous with its droning pads and choir. “Gearing Up” combines a playful toy-like vibe with rocking electric guitar, “Shipmeister’s Shanty” adds electronic elements to the same concept, and “Asteroid Attack” teases “Dearly Beloved” with its spacey pads and synth bass. “Waltz of the Damned” sports a nice swaying rhythm and references other themes form the game, “Dance of the Daring” is an upbeat folky tune with harpsichord, “Beauty and the Beast” gets a pop-oriented arrangement, and “The Home of Dragons” goes for majestic with a strong Chinese vibe.

Then there’s all the wonderful Disney music that you can’t help but smile while listening to. I’m looking at you, “Winnie the Pooh.” I have to admit it’s strangely satisfying hearing Disney classics sung in Japanese. Particularly “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. Donald and Goofy are also amazing in Japanese.

I love a lot of music heading into the end of the album, but to call out a few, the lightning fast metal in “Hazardous Highway,” the ambient “Cavern of Remembrance,” the foreboding and exotic “Sacred Moon,” the lovely “The Other Promise,” and the triumphant yet melancholy “Fantasia alla marcia” all provide a wonderful closing to the album.

I’ve gone on quite long enough, but this is some of Yoko Shimomura’s best work of all time. I highly recommend picking it up on CD Japan.

Review: KINGDOM HEARTS -HD 1.5 ReMIX- Original Soundtrack

While I’ll admit I never really delved into the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, I was as excited as anyone for this HD 1.5 ReMIX version. Upgraded sounds, live recordings, and more abound, and what better way to revisit Yoko Shimomura’s beloved classic than with a new coat of paint that has pleased event hardcore fans. For me, hearing these melodies for the first time, I finally understand why this music is so special to so many people.

“Dearly Beloved,” the iconic theme of the series, is presented in all its simplistic beauty here. I love the orchestral rendition of the vocal theme, “Hikaru,” and the funky remix with amazing production values and fantastic bass line. Some of my favorites from the score include the dark and ominous “Dive Into The Heart,” the upbeat tropical tune, “Destiny Island,” the tropical rock with woodwinds in “Bustin Up on the Beach,” and the infectiously happy “Mickey Mouse Club.” Kairi’s themes are probably my favorites on the entire album, in all of their various renditions, and I love the killer bass and percussion in “Night of Fate,” the dreamy and jazzy “Traverse Town,” the energetic “To Our Surprise,” the regal and triumphant “Olympus Colliseum,” and the exotic “Holy Bananas!” The second disc features some amazing themes as well with the bubbly and cute “O-Rama,” the desert-themed “A Day in Agrabah,” the sweet piano and strings of “Friends in my Heart,” the angelic “Never Land Sky,” the gothic orchestral “Forze de Male,” foreboding “End of the World,” and all the amazing classical arrangements that come in at the end. Finally, “Lord of the Castle” offers a decisive and epic final adventure while “Musique pour la tristesse de Xion” gets heart wrenching strings and piano. We get romance with “At Dusk, I Will Think of You…” and tragedy in “Vector to the Heavens.”

I have to say this is the definitive version of the soundtrack for anyone out there who, like me, hadn’t heard it all the way through. Those people are likely pretty rare at this point. But I suggest grabbing it on CD Japan if you’d like. We’ll also take a look at 2.5 in the coming weeks, which is even more amazing!

Review: SQ Swing

Square Enix is keeping their SQ arrangement series alive, this time with what is supposed to be a swing-flavored edition. Like many of their past efforts, I can’t say the music here conforms to the style of the album’s namesake save for a few tracks, but I really do love the jazz and lounge arrangements presented here.

Read more below. Continue reading Review: SQ Swing

Review: Square Enix Music Sampler CD Vol. 9

Each year for the past several years, Square Enix has released a sampler CD at their Tokyo Game Show, given to customers who make large purchases. This sampler has been used to preview upcoming releases, and more excitingly, announce albums that had not previously been announced. This year was no different, as Square Enix released their ninth such sampler.

This year’s sampler may be one of the best yet. So let’s dig right in to see what Square Enix Music is cooking! Continue reading Review: Square Enix Music Sampler CD Vol. 9