Tag Archives: Kumi Tanioka

Review: Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Composer’s Selection

Final Fantasy is 30 years old! Square Enix celebrated the year in style with a number of Final Fantasy soundtrack releases, but one of the promotional items they put out was this composer’s selection disc featuring picks from Final Fantasy composers past and present. The greatest thing about this release is that the commentary from each composer is provided in both English and Japanese, which is a nice touch.

Nobuo Uematsu leads the way with his sweeping piano and string ballad from Final Fantasy X, “Zanarkand.” Junya Nakano picks one of my favorite tracks from Final Fantasy X, the lullaby-esque “Yuna’s Decision.” Naoshi Mizuta is a hero among men for picking my favorite Final Fantasy composition, the whimsical “Troian Beauty” from Final Fantasy IV. Kumi Tanioka goes with the adventurous main theme from Final Fantasy IV, and has a nice story about watching her siblings play through the game to go with it. Hitoshi Sakimoto goes for the original “Final Fantasy” theme that started it all, and from the original Final Fantasy, no less. Masashi Hamauzu’s pick is the dreamy and healing “Sulyaa Springs” from Final Fantasy XIII, one of my personal favorites as well. Masayoshi Soken picks the epic “Torn from the Heavens” from Final Fantasy XIV, which incorporates the series prelude in a clever way. Finally, Yoko Shimomura offers up “APOCALYPSIS NOCTIS,” the bombastic orchestral battle theme from Final Fantasy XV.

I love this album solely to get a sense of the musical tastes of each of these composers who I’ve enjoyed so much over the years. The commentary is the star, here, though, so if you can get your hands on one of these discs, go for it!

Review: Kakuriyo no Mon Original Soundtrack

Noisycroak, the Japanese sound studio headed by Hideki Sakamoto, has always done great work. In fact, we wrote about their live band, TEKARU, just some months ago. What caught my attention with their latest release, however, was the collaboration of a number of prominent composers for Kakuriyo no Mon, a very cute web-based MMORPG with ancient Japanese influences. While Masakatsu Tamura is responsible for most of the shamisen and shakuhachi-heavy soundtrack that offers  soothing soundscapes along with traditional Japanese and rock blends, tracks by Saori Kobayashi, Hiroki Kikuta, Yoshitaka Hirota, Masaharu Iwata, Kumi Tanioka, Kenji Ito, Yoko Shimomura and others are also featured.

Kenji Ito is strong on the rock front, of course, while Saori Kobayashi delivers her signature sound in a track that’s decisive and cool. Tanioka channels tension, Hirota goes for exotic and dangerous, and Iwata goes for ethereal and horrific. Sakamoto himself steps in with a militaristic number, while composers I wasn’t too familiar with, including Takatsugu Wakabayashi and Rei Ishizuka, both offer explosive fusions of rock and traditional Japanese instruments that are impressive to behold.

While the soundtrack is  only available on iTunes Japan at this time, I’m hoping it gets a worldwide release so fans of these composers can get in on the action as well.