Final Fantasy IX Mixes
Final Fantasy IX Mixes
July 6, 2011
Download at Bandcamp
Many times I am asked what separates a good indie/douijin remix album from a bad one. Obvious answers like “production values”, “lack of dubstep”, and “it has the words Final Fantasy in the title” aren’t enough to placate more persistent readers. This is unfortunate since Dainumo’s Final Fantasy IX Mixes album combines all three criteria in the preceding sentence with a few more tricks to make it a solid album. But be warned, with just five tracks, it is also a brief one.
Avoiding common remix pitfalls like thumping backbeats and disco sirens, Dainumo’s release skirts around sound of the more obvious and iconic themes from Final Fantasy IX (“Vammo Alla Flamenco”, “Rose of May”, “You’re Not Alone”, “Black Mage Village”, etc) and instead focuses on providing solid dream pop mixes of five of the more obscure musical interludes from the game. “Blue Dreams” opens with the 10 second “Goodnight” theme that plays when the party beds down for the night. Any fan of dream pop who has played through the game will be smacking themselves in the head for not realizing how naturally that afterthought of a musical flourish could segue into an ethereal and upbeat remix. The synthesizer melody, quick and staccato throughout, owns this track, being supported by a simple percussion backbeat (snare and high hat) and a bass line that thumps a little too loudly at times.
“Leather Boots” follows up on the spritely tempo of “Blue Dreams” and clips by a bit faster, remixing the same basic melody and theme into something resembling an ambient battle track. It’s difficult to imagine where a song like this would fit into a game, but as a remix it’s subtle and chipper enough to be appreciated by those who have played through FFIX and those who have never touched the PSX classic. “Leveling Up” is another appropriately up-tempo mix that, while a bit slower than “Leather Boots” is still one that you could groove to while driving. The backbeat and bass are centerstage in this track until some high-pitched synth sounds begin sliding in and out of the melody conjuring images of Super Mario Bros. and Ratchet & Clank as they flit in and out of the listener’s ear.
“Golden Plains” and “Summer Star” are the two slower tracks on the album and are far more representative of true dream pop than the faster pieces present on Final Fantasy IX Mixes. “Golden Plains” features repetitively looped, mellow synth tones over a steady backbeat reminiscent of This Mortal Coil’s earlier work. The snare percussion line runs throughout this piece as well, creating a thematic unity between it and the rest of the album. “Summoned Star” is a delicate and enjoyable synth masterpiece that was not a clear remix of “Madain Sari” as I was hoping it would be. It is, however, a very chipper remix with a 16-bit chiptune feel that will be sure to put a smile on your face and a great ending track for the album.
Embodying everything that a doujin album should be, Dainumo’s Final Fantasy IX Mixes is a nimble album that clearly displays the musical talent of the mixer. With a quality offering of five, dreamy tracks clocking in at a 15 minute run time and a “name your price” price of, well, free to $10,000 (if you want to be Dainumo’s best friend), it’s hard not to like Final Fantasy IX Mixes. By taking obscure tracks from a b-side game of the Final Fantasy franchise (that I happen to love), and mixing them in the equally obscure, laconic dream pop style, Dainumo proves that a good remix album doesn’t need driving guitars, screaming vocals, or trashy techno backbeats in order to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, the overall short run time and the at-times too subtle samples make the album perhaps a bit forgettable, if you happen across one of the tracks from it in the back half of a VGM remix playlist, chances are you’ll find yourself bobbing your head along with the music as you check to see who the artist and title of the song is.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Matt Diener. Last modified on August 1, 2012.