by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
It’s no big shock if you’ve read anything I’ve written, but Final Fantasy IV is the standard by which I judge every JRPG by. Not too many games meet its rigorous standards, and it’s more than the story. The music is absolutely enchanting, some of Nobuo Uematsu’s best work. I’ve reviewed Final Fantasy music before here, mostly in collaboration/collection albums, but this one’s all Final Fantasy IV! Guitarist William Carlos Reyes of The OneUps arranged and performed some of the best tracks from the Final Fantasy IV OST in “Guitar Collections: Final Fantasy IV” and it’s just beautiful. I enjoy classical, acoustic guitar, and Reyes creates some of the best I’ve had the good fortune to hear. It’s a nice take on the popular “Piano Collections” that Square-Enix puts out (see below), and this one, more than ever, was it hard to pick some favorites. There are songs that already stand out to me on the Final Fantasy IV OST, and most of those are right here. He also created an original composition for the Final Track, “The Crystals”, which fits in just fine with the rest of the soundtrack. This is a song I could see taking place in the many Crystal Rooms in the world, or also being placed in the pivotal scene where Cecil and friends begin to descend into the core of the Moon, surrounded by the brilliant light of the crystals.
The album should be available today, and can be pre-ordered at Scarlet Moon Productions.
“I’ve always enjoyed Square Enix’s Piano Collections FINAL FANTASY series, but I have a personal preference for the sound of the guitar” explains Scarlet Moon Records producer Jayson Napolitano. “I wanted to produce a series of guitar albums starting with FINAL FANTASY IV, just as the Piano Collections series did. I also knew based on William Carlos Reyes’s past arrangements that he’d be perfect for this project with his ability to layer his performances in a very natural and pleasing way, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I want Guitar Collections FINAL FANTASY to become a series, so we hope everyone’s as eager as we are to hear more!”
Golbeza, Clad in the Dark (Track 7): Come on, is there any doubt this would make the list/be my favorite? The haunting, organ sounds of the arrival of the black-armored half-Lunarian Golbez still chills me, even to this day. This track imitates that on a guitar in a really clever way. The quick, hard strums across the streams keep that same ominous quality, despite a strikingly different sound. It sounds like he used finger picking to do the scaling notes about halfway through when it shifts from slow, ominous notes to rapid notes up and down the scale. Not too many bosses I think have had the pleasure of having such a foreboding song to cue their entrance, but Golbez is definitely one of those. You hear this song a few times in the game, and it’s never good. From Kain showing up to fight Cecil, to Golbez living on despite being eradicated, to steal the Dark Crystal, and again when he falls to Meteo, it heralds hard times for our heroes.
Within the Giant (Track 11): The Giant of Babil is such an interesting dungeon. I’m trying to highlight mostly, themes that would probably be difficult on simply a guitar (or a pair of guitars). Within the Giant felt like it used a lot of synthesizers to create its sounds, as well as horns as a fanfare for the dread and terror that is to be felt while traversing the giant. As the massive mechanical structure does battle with the human, dwarf, and fey forces, your party crawls around inside of it, only to find the Four Fiends of the Elements, who have learned a lesson from dealing with you in the past. Well, Rubicante did. The others likely toed the line out of fear. Starting somber and slow, quiet, it quickly picks up that same gravitas that the original song held. It sounds to me like he recorded two separate guitar tracks, one quieter in the background with all of the plucking and picking to imitate the piano and synth the original track had, and another classical guitar in the foreground. It’s a really cool technique and has the same speed and importance of the “WIthin the Giant” track from Final Fantasy IV. Absolutely love it.
Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY IV (Track 1): This take on the main theme of Final Fantasy IV is a very somber track, and while the original has a pretty quick pace in most portions of the game, this is a slow, deliberate version of the Overworld/main theme of Final Fantasy IV. Final Fantasy IV is a game filled with betrayal, heartache, sadness, and loss. This version of the song represents that better than the original, I dare to say. I can practically see Cecil trudging slowly across the plains of Mysidia, towards Mt. Ordeals. It does pick up speed a little towards the end, but I like this slow, almost meandering version of the song. The Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV and VI are probably my favorites for their mood and theme, and I think the Final Fantasy IV main theme really is encapsulated in this acoustic track.