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Final Fantasy VI OSV

[back cover]
Catalog Number: PSCN-5001~3 (reprint NTCP-5001~3)
Released On: March 25, 1994 (reprint October 1, 2004)
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu
Published By: NTT Publishing
Recorded At: Sunrise Studios
Format: 3 CDs
Buy this album from iTunes
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Opening Theme
02 - Colliery Narshe
03 - Awakening
04 - Locke
05 - Battle Theme
06 - Fanfare
07 - Edgar & Mash
08 - Kefka
09 - Mt. Kolts
10 - Returners
11 - Shadow
12 - Troops March on
13 - Cyan
14 - The Unforgiven
15 - The Mystic Forest
16 - Mystery Train
17 - Wild West
18 - Gau
19 - The Snake Path
20 - Kids Run Through the City Corner
21 - Under Martial Law
22 - Celes
23 - Save Them
24 - The Decisive Battle
25 - Metamorphosis
Total Time:
58'00"

Disc Two
01 - Tina
02 - Coin Song
03 - Techno de Chocobo
04 - Forever Rachel
05 - Slam Shuffle
06 - Spinach Rag

Opera
07 - Overture
08 - Aria di Mezzo Carattere
09 - The Wedding Waltz ~Duel
10 - Grand Finale?

11 - Setzer
12 - Johnny C Bad
13 - The Empire "Ghestal"
14 - Devil's Lab
15 - Blackjack
16 - ??
17 - Mog
18 - Strago
19 - Relm
20 - Another World of Beasts
Total Time:
57'18"

Disc Three
01 - New Continent
02 - Catastrophe
03 - The Fierce Battle
04 - Rest in Peace
05 - Dark World
06 - The Day After
07 - Searching Friends
08 - Gogo
09 - Epitaph
10 - The Magic House
11 - Umaro
12 - Fanatics
13 - Last Dungeon
14 - Dancing Mad
15 - Ending Theme
16 - The Prelude
Total Time:
72'03"

Editor's note 3/13/2013: While this album is no longer in print, you can get the same music via iTunes (see link above). The tracklist on this page reflects translations of the original disc-based release of "Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version" and not the newer iTunes release.

Squaresoft's 1994 Final Fantasy VI decided the series's general direction--a more plot-based, event-based, character-based RPG than was normal at the time. While Final Fantasy VII secured that direction as a trend, it was its Super Famicom predecessor that had taken steps in that direction. Uematsu's score reflects this shift in every sense: every character has his/her distinct theme, and events are scored with an operatic sense of grandeur. Indeed, there is even a mini-opera within the game, and within its soundtrack.

The synthesizers used in Final Fantasy VI's music are incredible. In contrast to the much more flat sounds of the previous two games, everything here, from woodwinds to strings to brass, has a surprisingly deep and resonant sound. Full use is made of the very complex range of instruments that the Super Famicom could produce, and the recording quality is exceptional. Although the SFC sound chip still leaves a slightly muffled sound to the more complex compositions, and some of the higher notes are still not handled well by the synth (as in "Returners") it generally has a very nice, clear sound to it for something of this era.

Some view Final Fantasy VI's score as Uematsu's magnum opus. Uematsu himself said in the Front Mission Gun Hazard liner notes that with FFVI, he had accomplished what he had set out to do when he began to write music for video games. "It is also significant that many people see the post-FFVI era as the mark of Uematsu's decline, and also that of the series. I will say up front that I disagree with that statement."

What, then, did Uematsu accomplish in Final Fantasy VI? Well, it is a true feat: a soundtrack where not only is every track listenable, but almost every track is either exceptional, or at least very good. Yes, that is right. Almost every track here is truly a very good, or even a great composition.

Start, for instance, with the main theme. It first appears in the opening theme. Following the sweeping introduction, it is presented as a march. The main section is played on a woodwind, and it holds back: holds back both from using the entirety of the composition, and also from over-indulging itself in pseudo-dramatic overtones (unlike the first :20 or so of the track...). The theme re-appears in "Awakening," but here it is even more restrained, longing, and almost sad. At the end of disc 1, it is heard in "Metamorphosis" as dissonant, frantic, and certainly no longer beautiful. Directly following, the main statement of the theme appears at the beginning of the second disc. "Tina," the world map theme, presents the theme as a march once again, but this second time the composition is played in full, and the last section completes both the dramatic arc and the melody of the piece. The theme shows up at the end as well: it is stated twice, both times as a calmer and more reserved statement of the theme, used as a bridge between other sections of the track.

Although I have no great love for "Umaro" or "Gogo," the rest of the character themes are exceptional. The uplifting melodies in "Lock" and "Setzer," the beautiful strains of "Relm" and "Celes," the playful and truly haunting "Cefca": Uematsu excels here in every way. Final Fantasy VI is the paradigm of Uematsu's talents at creating diversity with utter coherence.

And not just the character themes, either. There is exceptional diversity throughout the album. In tone, in style, and in melody, Uematsu put the two years spent on the soundtrack to exceptional use. The three main town themes in the game are distinctly different from each other. "Kids Run Through the City Corner" is the typical Uematsu town theme, with a very well composed peaceful melody. "Under Martial Law," on the other hand, has a much more reserved, darker nature to it: pay attention to how the melody shifts from the left channel to the right and back, to reflect the call and response form of the track. Finally, the post-apocalyptic town theme, "The Day After," reflects the darker nature of living in the world of ruin, but also has an element of hope.

Most interesting is the fact that Final Fantasy VI actually has an opera in it. The 'singing,' of course, is entirely in synth voices, but the voices actually sound okay here. My knowledge of opera is limited to a little Beethoven opera, a little Mozart opera, and a little Wagner, but I can tell that Uematsu is doing a good job at least replicating the general sound of the various styles heard within the genre. The composition is purely within Uematsu's style, but it also adheres to a classical sound, and the result is magnificent. The "Overture" and "Wedding Waltz ~ Duel" pieces have appropriately epic sounds to them, while the aria itself is actually a very beautiful piece of music. Even the comic and supposedly impromptu "Grand Finale?" is a very good piece, as long as one knows something about the general intentions for the track.

I could say so much about the other battle themes, for they are all excellent, but I will only talk about the final battle music, "Dancing Mad." This is a very long piece that goes through several sections, and while they are each very distinct in their own right, the organ is present throughout: one section is even in a distinctly baroque style. The Black Mages tried to re-invent the track in their style with their first album, and while the result was not bad, it lost some of the feel of the original.

The ending theme is simply incredible. It combines every character theme into a single composition, ending with the Final Fantasy theme itself. At 23 minutes, it is one of the longest tracks on any CD I own, and yet, it feels so much shorter than it is. The music changes tone and pace in a heartbeat, and yet manages to work coherently.

There is really nothing I can do to criticize this soundtrack. Some say that Final Fantasy VI is where Uematsu hit the summit of his capability, and the soundtrack itself is enough to be a summit for many. However, while his later soundtracks have many tracks that are generally more dispensable, they also characterize a progression away from, and yes, perhaps above what Final Fantasy VI accomplished. Uematsu is quoted (in English) in the liner notes for this soundtrack. "The important thing about producing power with fertility is not to be particular about one exact point but to have the superfluous flesh like an amoeba surrounding it[.]" I think about this whenever I listen to Uematsu's music, and it explains his style very well.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

Dear God, this soundtrack takes me back. It takes me back to the days when there was no such thing as an "old-school" gamer because the transition to all-graphics gaming hadn't become a reality yet. Want to relive those feelings without having to play through that 30-hour game again? Have no fear, the FFVI OST is here!

All of the music you know and love (if you played the game) is here. It's so sweet. Even those digitized vocals sound marvelous (that's right, the opera in original format!). Some of the most astounding music ever created on a keyboard has to be the last boss theme "Dancing Mad". 17 minutes long, oh yes! Consisting of all those "pillars" of bad guys before and then including angelic-Kefka...Phew, the music is the bomb.

I also enjoyed the 21 minute ending theme which recaps the theme music to every character and has some other music to go with it. Disc 3 is easily the best of the 3 discs, but disc 1 is fun too. It's too bad the middle discs are always the least creative, or so it feels in the Uematsu collection (though the opera is on disc 2).

Luckily, this CD is still being reprinted to this day. In other words, it's an easy find and a must-buy!

Note: Track 16 of disc 2 is named "??"...it's not a misprint in the book and it's not some track we couldn't translate, that is the name of the track (it's Gogo's theme).

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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