Square-Enix Piano Collections pt.4: Back to Basics

June 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm (Editorials, Soundtracks) (, , , , , , , )

Pushing the Final Fantasy series to even further borders, Square released Final Fantasy XI in 2002 (before the merge with Enix). It was the first in the series to be an MMORPG, and it was released to strong critical reception. With its many areas and expansions, the game demanded a large music library, too large for just one composer to handle. Again, Nobuo Uematsu was helped out by Naoto Mizuta and Kumi Tanioka. The later expansions were done only by Mizuta, as the others left the project. With so many tracks, it was understandably hard to keep all listeners satisfied. In the game, the music was great accompaniment, but as a standalone listen, some of the soundtracks were harder to recommend.

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Square-Enix Piano Collections pt.3: Ten to Ten-Two

May 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm (Editorials, Soundtracks) (, , , , , , , , , )

Although I had heaped much praise on the first six Piano Collections albums, all was not quite that well in the Final Fantasy world. While there was a clear progression with each album, keeping an arranger for three albums straight was bound to cause some stylistic repetition as resources became exhausted. For one unfamiliar with the source material, many of the songs between the albums could easily be mixed up on early listens.

Even more of a concern was the root of the music, Nobuo Uematsu, who had seemed to be running out of ideas. The music was always good on its own, but it was clear that many songs were drawing on others, even capturing entire phrases of previous songs and simply reworking them (a prime example of this would be Aerith’s and Celes’s themes). This seemed to reach its peak with the score for Final Fantasy IX, which contained elements of all of the Final Fantasy scores that preceded it. Sure, it may have been intended to be a throwback (there are many other elements of the game that also drew from predecessors), but there was no denying that these grounds were well tread, and growing stale. Surely, the series with the name “FINAL Fantasy” needed to come to an end.

But it was not so. Final Fantasy X was the first in the series to be released on the PlayStation 2, with critical reception on par with the previous entries. The music was noted as being fresh and well varied, but this was not due to Uematsu’s hand alone. For this project, they had decided to hire on two more composers to assist: Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu. Where Uematsu was known for writing pop-like melodies for his compositions, Nakano specialized in ambience and atmosphere, while Hamauzu handled some of the more foreboding, dramatic tracks. A few months later, a “Piano Collections Final Fantasy X” album was released, solely arranged by Masashi Hamauzu.

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Square-Enix Piano Collections pt.1: Shiro Satou’s Triad

May 16, 2012 at 11:19 am (Editorials, Soundtracks) (, , , , , )

Square-Enix’s ‘Piano Collections’ series is in its twentieth year now. Featuring piano arrangements of songs from popular game series, the series has been through many arrangers, performers, and styles. Many websites offer reviews for each album, but I thought it would be good to talk about each album with respect to the other albums as well, since they can differ a lot from each other. Many people also have differing opinions based on their music background, and many arrangements have certain classical influences. Here, I will talk about these albums on all grounds, although not by going through a track-by-track review.

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NieR (Gestalt and NieR Replicant) Original Soundtrack

May 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm (Soundtracks) (, , , )

1. Snow in Summer
2. Hills of Radiant Winds
3. The Incomplete Stone
4. Blu-bird
5. Cold Steel Coffin
6. Grandma
7. Song of the Ancients / Devola
8. The Wretched Automatons
9. City of Commerce
10. Song of the Ancients / Popola
11. The Prestigious Mask
12. Temple of Drifting Sands
13. Gods Bound by Rules
14. The Ultimate Weapon
15. Deep Crimson Foe
16. Dispossession / Piano
17. Dispossession / Strings
18. Dispossession /Pluck
19. Dispossession / Music Box
20. Yonah / Piano
21. Yonah / Strings
22. Yonah / Pluck
23. Yonah / Pluck 2
 
CD2
1. The Dark Colossus Destroys All
2. Song of the Ancients / Hollow Dreams
3. Kaine / Salvation
4. Kaine / Escape
5. His Dream
6. This Dream
7. Repose
8. The Lost Forest
9. Song of the Ancients / Fate
10. Shadowlord’s Castle / Memory
11. Dance of the Evanescent
12. Shadowlord’s Castle / Roar
13. Emil / Karma
14. Emil / Sacrifice
15. Shadowlord
16. Ashes of Dreams/ ENG
17. Ashes of Dreams / FR
18. Ashes of Dreams / DER
19. Ashes of Dreams / JP
20. Shadowlord – White-note remix – (Bonus Track)

I should say this first. I never played Nier. But I stumbled across the main website for it one day, and the background music was absolutely captivating. I did a little more searching, and soon decided to make th purchase. I don’t intend to play the game (despite owning a PS3; I even had the chance to buy it new for $10), but I will definitely keep up with it, because the music is just gold.

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