Final Fantasy Tribute
Final Fantasy Tribute ~Thanks~
December 5, 2012
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Final Fantasy Tribute ~Thanks~ is an official two-disc remix album released for the series’ 25th anniversary, with arrangements for songs covering the first thirteen mainline entires in the series. There are a variety of styles on the album, ranging from big band arrangements to acoustic tracks to electronic remixes and rock renditions, all from a variety of artists. For the most part the album entertains not only thanks to nostalgia and memorable tunes, but also thanks to the solid arrangements and performances throughout.
The first track of the album set is “Opening Theme” by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. It’s a fun big band rendition of the tired theme that manages to give it a considerable amount of life, and it benefits greatly from a variety of instrumental solos and a short “Chocobo” cameo. Also carrying the big band sound is the opener of disc 2, “Final Fantasy V Main Theme” by JABBERLOOP. This arrangement has really great energy, but it also works well when it strips it all away partway through the track, only to build it back up again. The “Chocobo Theme” later makes a standalone appearance with a smaller jazz ensemble and some retro synths. The whistled melody carries some charm, and the track has a decent groove. With similar sound, “Mhuara~Selbina~Voyager” by jizue brings some other acoustic elements in like a guitar for this solid medley, which uses its three tracks’ differences to keep things interesting. Pia-no-jaC’s “Battle Medley 2” sports a similar reduced instrumentation (now focusing primarily on the cajon and piano). It’s basically what we’ve come to expect from the duo, but as usual they do a great job with the furiously hammered piano, energetic percussion, and the great song choices for their style.
A number of other tracks still lean on the acoustic side of things, but are a bit more subdued and with other influences. “Harvest ~ The Ancient Library ~ Town Theme” has a fun folk influence and a pub sound to it, shifting emphasis throughout between a guitar and a set of strings throughout. The big “Opening Theme ~ Prelude ~ Main Theme ~ Town ~ Chaos’ Temple ~ Matoya’s Cave ~ Battle Scene ~ Victory ~ Ending Theme” medley is similar but a bit more energetic throughout in a mostly ragtime style. The “FINAL FANTASY I-III Town Medley” is also very fun and pleasant, and it has some light electronica in the background for a more unique sound. “Julia” feels even more vintage, using an older piano sound fitting the jazz arrangement. The track is really great in the way it freely plays on the melody, especially when it turns upbeat in its latter half. “Troian Beauty” and “Coin Song” treat their iconic melodies similarly, allowing for a wonderfully fresh take on the tracks while also developing their emotional impact. “Clash on the Big Bridge” is also surprisingly a low key affair, appearing here as a goofy arrangement with some light guitar and percussion and an emphasis on recorders. This track might not be for everyone, but the others should be quite agreeable, with great care taken in their fresh treatment of the source material.
Several electronic remixes are also included in the album set, though unfortunately they aren’t as strong as the other tracks. Often the weakness comes from an over-repetition of a short source melody, where other tracks kept tracks exposure short in medleys or developed their themes well. The trancey “A Fleeting Dream”, “Zanarkand”, and “Lifestream” are all examples of the weaker side of these tracks, which are a bit too long given their source tracks, and also are in a stye not entirely befitting the moving original melodies. A bit better is “The Crystal Tower ~ Forbidden Land”, which is more interesting as an aggressive mix of dubstep and rock elements, though it too is often repetitive. The electronica tracks are alright, with the chill and atmospheric soundscapes of “Nalbina Fortress Underground Prison ~ Sorrow [Liberation Army Version] ~ You’re Really A Child… ~ Near The Water” and the ever-shifting “Zidane’s Theme ~ Garnet’s Theme ~ Vivi’s Theme ~ Eiko’s Theme ~ Quina’s Theme ~ Freya’s Theme ~ Amarant’s Theme ~ Steiner’s Theme ~ Rose of May” medley. But overall these tracks are among the weakest of the album.
The album has its share of rock remixes, though perhaps fewer than expected and not in Uematsu’s typical metal style. “Searching For Friends” a light rock track which doesn’t really go too far but still works pretty well in this different sound. “The Man with the Machine Gun ~ Those Who Fight ~ Battle Theme” is a great medley with some electronica to it to make things more interesting. It starts fairly subdued but then grows as it goes, finishing off quite strong. Then there is “Cornelia Castle~Something to Protect”, which prominently features a bagpipe amidst its hard rock sound, and actually works pretty well for the track though it might not be for everyone. “Battle Medley” is the most straightforward in its style and rock arrangement, and despite predictability it is a packed melody that moves well and has plenty of energy. For the most part these tracks do a decent job of not repeating what has been countless times in rock style arrangements, and they still manage to fit into the flow of the album pretty well.
Overall Final Fantasy Tribute ~Thanks~ is a solid remix set, and it is a worthy tribute to the musical legacy of the Final Fantasy series. The use of medleys is great, making sure the shorter melodies don’t overstay their welcome, and giving the entire album a good sense of movement. A lot of the album is high-energy, and even the slower tracks keep things going at a strong pace, making the album feel fairly cohesive despite its many different styles. The rock and and electronic remixes are decent, but the strongest of the album are those of acoustic or mixed ensembles, which often develop their themes and sound throughout. Fans of Final Fantasy music should find a lot to enjoy on this well-produced album.
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Posted on July 12, 2015 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on July 8, 2015.