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Final Fantasy X OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SSCX-10054~57 (reprint SQEX-10013~6)
Released On: August 1, 2001 (reprint May 10, 2004)
Composed By: Junya Nakano, Masashi Hamauzu, Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Junya Nakano, Masashi Hamauzu, Nobuo Uematsu, Shiro Hamaguchi, Hirosato Noda
Published By: DigiCube (reprint Square Enix)
Recorded At: Unknown
Format: 4 CDs
Buy this album from CDJapan
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - "I Want to Tell You Everything"
02 - At Zanarkand
03 - Prelude
04 - Tidus' Theme
05 - Otherworld
06 - Hurry!
07 - This is Your Story
08 - Ominous
09 - Normal Battle
10 - Victory Fanfare
11 - Game Over
12 - No Hopes, No Dreams
13 - Secret Maneuverings
14 - Underwater Ruins
15 - Al Bhed Tribe's Chi
16 - Enemy Attack
17 - Blitz Ball Gamblers
18 - Besaid Island
19 - Spiran Scenery
20 - Song of Prayer
21 - Illusion
22 - Palace of Ordeals
23 - Song of Prayer - Valfor
24 - Summoning
25 - Daughter of the Great Summoner
26 - Good Night
Total Time:
66'36"

Disc Two
01 - Yuna's Theme
02 - Sprouting
03 - Farplane Sending
04 - Silence Before the Storm
05 - Song of Prayer - Ifrit
06 - Luca
07 - Reception for Great Sage Micah
08 - Unwavering Decision
09 - The Splendid Performance
10 - Confrontation
11 - Blitz Off
12 - Auron's Theme
13 - Mi'ihen Road
14 - Brass de Chocobo
15 - Travel Company
16 - Permitted Passage
17 - Seymour's Theme
18 - Twilight
19 - Djose Temple
20 - Song of Prayer - Ixion
21 - Wanna Ride the Ciparph?
22 - Rikku's Theme
23 - Guadosalam
Total Time:
64'05"

Disc Three
01 - Thunder Plain
02 - Ject's Theme
03 - Macalania Forest
04 - Sea of Mists
05 - The Temple Band
06 - Seymour's Ambition
07 - Song of Prayer - Shiva
08 - The Advancers
09 - Blazing Desert
10 - Crisis
11 - The Truth Revealed
12 - Start
13 - Marriage Ceremony
14 - Raid
15 - Tragedy
16 - I Can Fly
17 - Path of Repentance
18 - Song of Prayer - Bahamut
19 - Time of Judgment
20 - My Father's Murderer
21 - Isn't It Beautiful? (Suteki da ne?)
Total Time:
60'40"

Disc Four
01 - Yuna's Decision
02 - Lulu's Theme
03 - Brave Advancement
04 - Song of Prayer - Bodyguard
05 - People of the North Pole
06 - Song of Prayer - The Lonzo
07 - Wandering Flame
08 - Someday the Dream Will End
09 - Song of Prayer - Yunalesca
10 - Challenge
11 - At the End of the Abyss
12 - Darkness
13 - Song of Prayer - Spira
14 - The Deceased Laugh
15 - Seymour Battle
16 - Song of Prayer - Anima
17 - Summoned Beasts Battle
18 - Decisive Battle
19 - Ending Theme
20 - "Please Remember"
21 - Isn't It Beautiful? (Suteki da ne?) Orchestra Version
Total Time:
74'51"

The Limited Edition packaging for FFX was...awkward, to say the least.

The first normal series Final Fantasy featuring multiple composers, X's score is obviously different from everything that preceded it. Also, not having the same composing teams of the following games, it is different from them as well. Of course, as the setting and story of each game is unique, they are invariably distinct anyway. For Final Fantasy X, Squaresoft called upon three of its most well-tested composers, (as Ito, Mitsuda, and Hirota had already left the company), Junya Nakano, Masashi Hamauzu, and of course, Nobuo Uematsu.

Junya Nakano wrote the least material for the soundtrack, but his distinctive style creates several outstanding pieces. From the first track (track order-wise) that he writes, "Hurry!!," it is apparent that his strength lies in percussion. "Hurry!!," itself, is a remarkably tense track, built upon a constant rhythmic repetition, yet not feeling repetitive. Nakano, in fact, makes great use of the PS2 synth set throughout. "Underwater Ruins" and "Fantasy" ethereally blend synth and percussion, while "Luka" combines lighter percussion with guitar to create a livelier mood. While some of Nakano's material, such as "Darkness" and "Fog Sea," borders on being rather bland, the majority of it works very well outside the game as well as within its context.

Masashi Hamauzu wrote a good deal of the score for Final Fantasy X, and fresh off of the excellent SaGa Frontier II score, he creates more music the only way he can: multi-layered, filled with piano, and oddly compelling. Although SaGa Frontier II remains my favorite of his solo scores, some of the best Hamauzu is to be found within Final Fantasy X.

I am a much bigger Hamauzu fan now than I was when I first played Final Fantasy X. All I had heard of his music back then was SaGa Frontier II. It should be stated, then, that Hamauzu's music is often not immediately 'accessible'. Sure, there are great tracks like "Blitz Off," or even the somewhat more experimental "Raid," that many people could immediately enjoy, but most people will find themselves at a loss as to how to react to something like "Crisis."

"Crisis," in fact, is an excellent piece. It's exciting, and has some incredible use of rhythm and dissonance. But it's so dissonant, so fast-paced and indeed, so loud as to be seemingly cacophonous to some. On the other hand, "Besiado Island" is very much the opposite. It's got Hamauzu's unique melodical sensibility, but it's a calm, peaceful track that uses piano with some echoing synth bell-like sounds. One of my strongest early memories of FFX is swimming through the waters at Besaid with the music enhancing the atmosphere of the beautiful tropical scenery.

Some of Hamauzu's pieces have grown on me substantially since I first heard them. "Wandering Flame," which at first seemed kind of unremarkable and indeed, meandering, has become an impressively emotional atmospheric piece. The saxophone which comes in part way through is the track's most obvious characteristic, but the piece as a whole does a very impressive job of portraying a kind of melancholy which a traditionally melodic piece normally cannot. Likewise, "Challenge" seemed to me to be too obnoxious, indeed too dissonant to be listenable. While I do not love it the way I do "Wandering Flame," it is a very interesting track that blends electronic beats and rhythms with Hamauzu's melodical sense, and yes, even a little bit of his fantastic piano work.

"People of the North Pole" is another incredible piece. The violin creates the track's feeling of desolation, while the percussion gives an ascending sensation. These, combining with the other synths and a few piano notes (you may have to listen for them) create a fascinatingly layered and oddly beautiful piece of music. In fact, with the exception of "Confrontation," I like all of Hamauzu's work on this soundtrack.

Uematsu, who wrote the majority of the soundtrack, contrasts with his co-composers. For FFX, Nakano creates his ethereal and exciting percussion pieces, while Hamauzu uses dissonance and multi-layered piano and synth pieces. Uematsu, on the other hand, sticks to what he normally writes, that is, simple yet compelling melodies. Given Final Fantasy X's setting, however, Uematsu is unable to write the sort of enjoyable electronic music that FFVIII had quite a bit of, nor does the plot allow the sort of heroic, orchestral-styled character themes that made his music so enjoyable in the SFC era. So what does he end up writing?

He writes the simple, utterly beautiful, and saddening "To Zanarkand," for one. A piano solo track that begins the album (ignoring the Japanese line at the beginning), it is almost certainly one of Uematsu's best pieces in recent years. Even its arrangements make excellent use of its wonderful melody: the Nakano arranged "Sprouting" adds in some nice percussion and brings out the hopeful side of the piece, while "Revealed Truth," purely with synth strings, show's the tune's tragic side.

Uematsu also writes all of the character themes. Some of these are very good: "Tidus's Theme" is relaxing, while "Rikku's Theme" is more upbeat. "Auron's Theme" is nice as well, and "Lulu's Theme," although the worst of them, is still an interestingly composed piece. "Seymour's Theme" has several arrangements throughout, but the best version is the original. The lingering strings create a slight dissonance, and the echoing harp arpeggios, constantly fading and crescendoing, create both uneasiness and beauty together. "Jekt's Theme" is rather bland.

"Normal Battle" is catchy, with some great brass and lots of synth. "Between Ordeals," although over-used within the game, uses some great echo sounds and percussion in a distinctly Uematsu style. Likewise, "Silence Before the Storm" and "Path of Repentance" are great area pieces. Unfortunately, Uematsu also wrote some rather mediocre material for this soundtrack as well. While they aren't unlistenable, I would never go out of my way to hear "Al Bhed Tribe's Chi," "Mi'ihen Highway," or "JOZE Temple." "Brave Advancement" and "Ciparf Riding?" are odd tracks, that while unexceptional, have grown on me quite a bit. "Otherworld," the hard rock track with shouted vocals, should be mentioned here. I am not a big fan of it.

The main vocal this time is "Suteki Da Ne?," sung by vocalist RIKKI. The lyrics, in Japanese, are actually quite good, considering they are the normal sort of image poetry that is the norm for game and animé vocals; they are much better than the lyrics in the previous FF game vocals as well. Rikki herself has a great Japanese-style voice, which suits the song perfectly. The music itself, by Uematsu and arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi, is Uematsu's strongest vocal theme to date. Like the game, it is tragic without being overly melodramatic, and ultimately very human. Even better than the regular version of the song is the orchestral version at the end: Hamaguchi's arrangement here accentuates the sound of Rikki's voice very well.

Each composer also composed one of the three final battle themes. Uematsu's "Seymour Battle" is a techno track, complete with throbbing percussion and lots of synth organ. Nakano's "Summoned Beast Battle" is nearly entirely percussion, but strains of "Song of Prayer" find their way into the furious rhythmic onslaught. Hamauzu's "Decisive Battle" is the best of the three. Although it's not quite as good, it is quite similar stylistically to SaGa Frontier II's "Todesengel," with similar use of a constantly building sound, and a climax from which the track returns to its beginning. Although they are all similar stylistically, "Fight Tune - The Immaculate" from Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus is better than the other two.

Final Fantasy X's soundtrack finds itself hampered by a lot of criticism. Many times, as with Final Fantasy X-2's soundtrack, I find myself in the middle, between the opposing polarities in such cases. However, in the case of Final Fantasy X, I find myself firmly in one side. It is a very good soundtrack. All three composers played to their strengths (for the most part) and the result is very satisfying work throughout.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

This soundtrack breaks all sorts of traditional Final Fantasy soundtrack "rules". For starters, this soundtrack is not solely composed by Uematsu. Masashi Hamauzu (SaGa Frontier 2, Chocobo's Dungeon composer) played a major part in the composition of this soundtrack, and Junya Nakano (Dewprism/Threads of Fate, Another Mind composer) also wrote plenty of songs on this soundtrack. While FF8 didn't have the prelude anywhere on its soundtrack and this game does, FF10 has the "Final Fantasy Main Theme" absolutely nowhere on it. Not since the Famicom's FF2 has this happened, if I'm correct.

The soundtrack also boasts some landmark new vocal ideas for Final Fantasy. There is a hardrock vocal on here that REALLY doesn't seem to fit in with Final Fantasy tradition ("Otherworld" - disc 1 track 5). The "vocal theme" to the game is sung in Japanese, which is a change from 8 and 9's cheesy English vocals. There's also this "Song of Prayer" which obviously must have a major part in the story, but it seems that a whole bunch of summoned creatures have their own version of these songs. It's all very new, and very interesting.

I have decided that I really must give up my love for everything "old-school" at this point with the introduction of this absolutely amazing soundtrack, and declare this my personal favorite FF OST. Why? One word - Hamauzu. Since I first bought SaGa Frontier 2, I just knew that this man was going to do great things for Square's music department. The arrangements for SF2 Piano were also amazing, and I was patiently waiting for the next Hamauzu soundtrack release. Never did I think he'd have a hand in this soundtrack...but he did. A prime example of his awesome work is disc 3 track 14, "Raid". This song screams Hamauzu's spectacular talent and style, and I simply cannot get enough of it. Of course, Nakano's additions to this soundtrack are also great (check out disc 1 track 7).

FF10's vocal theme is the best Square vocal since Xenogears' "Small of Two Pieces" (and that's only because Joanne Hogg, lead singer of IONA, did that song). The vocalist "Rikki" does an amazing job with this song, and the orchestra version is also very neat. I'm told that the FF10 Single (which also features a vocal version of FF7's Aeris Theme) has some different violin solo in Suteki da ne, so feel free to check that out!

FF10 was also groundbreaking for Square because it's the first FF with speaking parts. The very first track is 8 seconds long and spoken in Japanese by Tidus; it roughly translates to "This may be the end...so I want to tell you everything". Disc 4 track 20 is spoken by Yuna, and I'm not quite sure what all it says.

There are some seriously strange tracks on here. The Prelude for FF10 just scares me because it doesn't sound right at all. Bahamut's "Song of Prayer" sounds like a high-pitched boy, which is sort of scary. I don't like many of the character themes very much...I basically like any song that Hamauzu wrote and a couple of others. The battle themes are great, especially some of the stuff on disc 4. Check out the samples to make your own judgment on this FF's music quality.

Now, a little talk about the LE OST packaging. It seems to me that it's supposed to be some sort of "some assembly required" soundtrack. The LE comes in this very long casing and it's sort of...stretched out, I don't know how to put it. But there's a flattened out blue slipcase that you have to unfold (and it's REALLY hard to get it straight and even), then you fold up the big case that all the CDs are in and stick the blue thing over it. It's sort of confusing, and there's a bunch of paper that I didn't know what to do with. But, it was still fun. The regular OST print is probably better for those of you who don't want to try and figure this stuff out.

So, if you want to purchase this soundtrack, it's pretty easy to find just about anywhere. Game Music Online, CD Japan, Otaku.com, they all have it for a standard $45 price. I highly suggest you buy this soundtrack and start to learn the music so you can fully appreciate its awesome sound!

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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