Guitar Collections: Final Fantasy IV

I’ll put the embed player right here at the top for you now, so you can turn this on while you read my thoughts on this album.

You can leave this tab open and enjoy it, because the whole album is streamable without purchase if you like.

Final Fantasy IV is a special thing for me. It came along at just the right time in my life and with such a special mix of Things Done Well that it became very formative. It set the tone for pretty much ever console RPG that followed, and there are some things it’s done that haven’t yet been eclipsed.

It’s still very playable, with some of the best-designed systems in an RPG.

But what pushes it into iconic is the multi-layered set of leitmotifs used by Nobuo Uematsu to give it its musical punch. The main overworld theme, used in various settings at various times, and woven into every battle theme in subtle ways. The Theme of Love. There are themes for specific characters and themes for specific locations. For the first time I can remember, some themes have variations that play after the main theme finished its first loop.

It has a style that is all its own.

All of this is captured wonderfully in this album. I have some of the CDs that accompanied the guitar sheet music books published in Japan, but those recordings are simple reductions. Reyes’s work is full of adaptations and thematic flourishes on themes you recognize, and it’s done in a classical style that allows you to start the album and let it flow in the background.

Every theme selected for this album is well-represented and arranged and played with deftness. I can’t think of a single thing I’d eliminate, and the original track to close the album fits quite well and is a welcome addition. I am perfectly OK with the decision to skip adapting both the Prelude and Prologue themes, which have been done to death at this point when there are other, more worthy selections that have landed here, like “Golbeza, Clad in the Dark” and “Within the Giant.”

Give it a listen; buy it on Bandcamp. It’s another great album from Scarlet Moon Records, and I hope it sells well enough to encourage more albums like it, because my only regret is that there isn’t more to listen to.

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst – Music? Check.

The Mirror’s Edge blog posted a little announcement recently:

Today, DICE is happy to reveal that one of our most prominent collaborators from the original Mirror’s Edge™ is making a return. Solar Fields, creator of the Mirror’s Edge soundtrack, is composing the score for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, making the elegant city of Glass come alive with iconic, electronic soundscapes.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. The soundtrack for the first game was exactly what it needed and ended up being an iconic part of the game:

The announcement post includes a nice interview snippet about the music creation steps, and also has a sample of the work-in-progress, which sounds great:

Please don’t screw this one up, EA.

Committing to the Action

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 2.58.56 PM

Well, now I’ve done it.

Guess I’ll have to start learning how to play this thing when it gets in. (Sadly backordered in this color.) Anyone be interested in watching some fool learn how to play guitar live on the internet? Because I’m debating broadcasting my experience with Rocksmith when I get it going.

Faunts, “High Expectations/Low Results”

I discovered Faunts through their tracks included with the Mass Effect soundtrack albums. (Expect those to make an appearance at some point.) But their best work is their first: this lovely, completely chill EP that’s the length of most full albums.

This is what I listen to when I need to hit the zone at work. It’s light and relaxing without being sleepy, melancholy and reflective without being depressing. There’s some noise and floating lyrics that combine to make something that flows from one track to the next and always captures my attention. A strong beat appears when it needs to and recedes into the background when it’s no longer important.

If you like shoegaze with a tinge of electronic rock, with a sound that is both dream and space at once, I’d recommend this to you in a heartbeat. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

http://rd.io/x/Rl5r_bk-V_Dz/

Or, if you’d rather buy it outright, it’s here on Amazon and here on iTunes.

Judas Priest, “Screaming for Vengeance”

Listening to this while working always makes me feel badass. It might not be as well-regarded as British Steel, but it’s an amazingly influential metal album.

It’s also one of my favorite full albums to play in Rock Band.

Metallica, “Metallica”

For some reason, this was today’s album of choice. I remember there being a bunch of talk about how this eponymous album “wasn’t really Metallica” when it came out due to the change of style.

I wonder if anyone would have thought that (or at least talked about it as much) had they know what Load would be like then.