Square Enix recently put out this wonderful lo-fi album featuring arrangements from games the company released in the ’80s, including many that don’t often get this kind of attention. The album opens with “Finale” from Final Fantasy with soothing piano, belltones and percussion, before “Rising Sun” from Seiken Densetsu jumps in with its sweet melody on some lovely electric piano. There’s a trippy reggae “Chocobo,” a Celtic-flavored “Town Theme” from the first SaGa title that would make Nobuo Uematsu proud, and the aptly-titled “Deep” from SaGa III with lots of bass and radio transmissions. “Enraged Battle” is one of my favorites, turning the battle theme from SaGa into a funky pop tune, and it’s followed by “Prologue” from SaGa with swelling orchestra and reverb-y pianos. “Sailing Ship” from Final Fantasy is a nice trip hop tune that takes some dark turns, while “Exotic Town” from SaGa III gets a smooth jazz treatment in contrast to Ryuji Sasai’s original rock stylings. There’s a crystalline “Prelude,” a sleepy piano and percussion version of “The Tranquil Earth” from SaGa II with the sounds of birds and nature, and SaGa’s “Epilogue,” which references the adventurous overworld theme. “Main Theme” from the original Final Fantasy is slow and chill and is dubbed the “clean version,” so rest assured there’s no swear words in it, while “Cornelia,” also from Final Fantasy, is even more joyous than the original with bouncy percussion and bells. The album closes with “The Royal Palace,” a mega dreamy track with layered bells and pads.
This is really an excellent album. I’ve been listening to it regularly as I go about my day. The booklet has complete credits and track-by-track commentary in Japanese and English, which is a nice touch. There’s also a sticker of the cover, which is quite lovely. Pick it up on the Square Enix North America store on listen on Spotify.
Square Enix continues its most excellent jazz album series with a volume dedicated to Final Fantasy VII, which came just in time for the remake. It’s a classy way to relive many of the original’s most memorable melodies. The album starts with an uplifting “Opening” before a swanky and… explosive “Bombing Mission” kicks in with guitar and sax and plenty of solos. “Shinra Inc.” gets cool piano chords and bass, gritty distorted guitars, and a flurry of flute solos, while the sweet and smooth “Aerith” gets some contemplative sax across a poppy arrangement. There’s the swaying “On Our Way,” the bouncy “The Chase” with its dance-y piano work, and big brass and organ in the playful “Cait Sith.” Fan-favorite “Fight On” is piano heavy with funky bass, side sticks, and big brass, and obligatory guitar solo, while “Tifa’s Theme” is appropriately whimsical and floaty with beautiful interplay between saxophone and trumpet. The “JENOVA” arrangement is a bit of a surprise with its sweet piano work, “Cosmo Canyon” sports wailing electric guitar and gets its funk on with some unexpected excursions, and “One-Winged Angel” gets a faithful-yet-fun version with walking bass and extensive brass work. The final track, “Main Theme of FINFAL FANTASY VII” offers a smooth and warm ending to an excellent album, complete with many parting solos.
In addition to the excellent arrangements, the album comes housed in a thick cardboard jacket that opens just like a vinyl, and the CD is event printed to look like a vinyl. The booklet is thick with commentary in both English and Japanese explaining the arrangers’ takes and discussions about jazz, which is a real treat. I actually owned this album digitally before reviewing the physical edition, but I must say the physical edition has a lot to offer. While the Square Enix North America store doesn’t offer this particular version of the album, they do have the live recording released in September, and I recommend checking it out. If you want the original release that I’ve described, you can import it on CD Japan.
Square Enix released an interesting album on vinyl dedicated to Final Fantasy III with the subtitle Four Souls. It features four new arrangements from the game and their original sound version counterparts on an A and B side, respectively, exclusively on vinyl. Fortunately the vinyl comes with an MP3 download as well. The four tracks include a lovely acoustic pop version of the overworld theme, “Eternal Wind,” with harmonica, xylophone, and acoustic guitar, a beautiful solo harp arrangement of “Elia, The Maiden of Water,” a spunky acoustic take on “Battle 2” which is really well done, and a grandiose piano arrangement of “The Crystal Tower.” It’s a nice collection of remixes of four key themes from the game. Find an unboxing video below after the jump.
If you want to pick up Final Fantasy III -Four Souls-, Square Enix offers it for $39.99 on the North America store.
Continue reading Review: Final Fantasy III -Four Souls-
Scarlet Moon Records is extremely proud to be able to reveal Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies, an album of videogame music tracks arranged and performed live for sleep and relaxation. The album features Norihiko Hibino on saxophone and AYAKI on piano, performing together at GENTLE LOVE. There’s a website dedicated to the album, which can be found here.
Each week we’ll be unveiling two track titles leading up to the May 19, 2014 release date on Loudr and other digital retailers. So far Donkey Kong Country’s “Aquatic Ambiance” has been announced (sample below) alongside Secret of Mana’s “A Wish…” (exclusive sample on GameSpot).