Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec: Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII, Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec:. Передняя обложка. Click to zoom.
Final Fantasy VIII, Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec:
Передняя обложка
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged by Nobuo Uematsu / Shiro Hamaguchi
Published by Square Enix
Catalog number SQEX-10025
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 CD - 13 tracks
Release date July 22, 2004
Duration 01:04:12
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Final Fantasy arrangement albums have explored a wide variety of genres and approaches to treat fans of the series to more concert-oriented versions of their favourite melodies. From the numerous piano collections to the orchestral experimentation on Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale, the Irish sounds of Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon, and even the few orchestrated pieces of the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks, a wide variety of sonic material is available in Square's arranged albums for their flagship series. Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec is one of the series' more conservative arranged albums, as it is in fairly traditional orchestral format and resides very close to its source material. This is not a bad thing at all, however. The album works very well, and infuses new life into the ten tracks that were orchestrated especially for this album, and the three tracks off of the original soundtrack sound just as well in place, as they were orchestrated for the game.


Despite being directly from the Original Soundtrack, "Liberi Fatali" works perfectly as an opening for this album. It would be impossible to have a Final Fantasy VIII orchestral album without the theme, and though it is difficult to judge an original piece against a selection of arrangements, the quality of "Liberi Fatali" is striking nonetheless. Built around Uematsu's chilling sorceress motive, the piece develops the theme in such a way that is never really realized elsewhere on the soundtrack. In addition, the piece does a wonderful job of saving its climax for the very end and keeping the listener anxious for the penultimate moment. It draws much of its strength through its performance, which is rousing on every plane. The choristers are superb, easily the best featured on the album, and the best that I have heard perform the piece. On top of the stellar choir, the orchestra gives a remarkable performance as well. The intensity of the piece is maintained from top to bottom, even throughout its dynamic shifts. This is naturally aided by a fine orchestration that adds razor sharpness and shine to the composition. The variation of instrumentation also helps keep the piece fresh with a fairly small amount of musical material.

"Blue Fields" is a success more as an arrangement than as a piece of music. Hamaguchi does a fine job of taking a theme that never impressed me and using its strengths to feed its orchestration. Hamaguchi's orchestration removes the emphasis from the obstinate pizzicato strings that I found so obnoxious in the original version and fills the space with the luscious harmonic padding that never was able to fulfil that awesome sense of an all-encompassing world on the PlayStation synthesizer. Though I remain indifferent to the piece's melodic material, the wonderful enveloping feeling of the harmonies is worthy of praise. Similarly "Balamb GARDEN ~ Ami" takes themes which did not especially appeal to me before, and injects them with spark. In this instance, however, it is not only Hamaguchi's orchestration that makes these pieces sparkle, but also bits of change in the musical material. While the changes are generally subtle, they are very pleasing to listen to. For example, Hamaguchi's transition at 0:35 is handled with sensitivity not found in the original and his addition of a chromatic conjunct harmony at 0:50 is equally intriguing. Overall, I find there is more to enjoy out of the accompaniments provided in this orchestration, where the original pieces were limited to their melodies for moments of interest. While the pieces never lose the calm feeling of the originals, they are stripped of their dullness.

Hamaguchi's arrangement of "Don't Be Afraid" is one of the weakest on the album. His orchestration never manages to take control of the dramatic power it seems to be reaching for. The brass seem half stuck between majesty and a ferocity that fails to leave me with any emotional reaction to their playing. I also feel that Hamaguchi's added sections, despite their attempt to heighten the drama of the piece, fall short of their intent, and end up hindering the continuity of the piece in the end. This applies mainly to the section at 1:43, but the ending is equally disappointing and screams "I'm out of ideas!" rather than "This piece has reached its conclusion!" Likewise "The Man with the Machine Gun" doesn't fulfil its promise on paper at least. There's something about this theme that just works on electronic instruments and makes it sounds really cheesy when played by an orchestra. The piece is still fun, and nothing can diminish the quality of the melodies of the original, but this setting makes me feel more like going to the disco than fighting monsters. Not a standout on this album, and definitely not as remarkable as the original.

Against all the sensitive songs that were used in Final Fantasy VIII that I found unimpressive, "Eyes on Me" certainly takes the cake. Though it shows up many other places on the soundtrack, I find the main arrangement to be the least tolerable. Though I generally champion simple music, this piece is an exception, and exemplifies everything I dislike about pop music: overly dramatic, far from melodic, and a style of singing that doesn't appeal to my ears. If you're waiting for me to say, "but then Hamaguchi did it again and saved the track!" you will be as disappointed as I was when I hit this track on the CD, as it's straight from the soundtrack. Next time I want a pop ballad, I'll go searching for artists who specialize in the medium. Its partner arrangement "Love Grows" doesn't reek nearly as badly of pop as "Eyes on Me," mainly due to harmonic flourishes added by Hamaguchi on the piano. However, I still fail to find the core melody all that expressive, and there's very little an arrangement can do about that.

For the third time on the album, Hamaguchi saves a track I found uninteresting on the soundtrack, "Fisherman's Horizon", and gives it real emotional appeal. It is also in this track that Hamaguchi plays the most with the original theme. He uses the choir tastefully right from the start to the very end, a climax to accent the humanity of the "Fisherman's Horizon" locale. The a cappella styled statement of the melody directly preceding the close of the piece is truly relaxing and one of the best moments in the piece. The most impressive part is how well it manages to add some real emotional motion without sacrificing the sensitivity of the original theme. Likewise Hamaguchi gives exactly what is needed to redeem "The Oath". The original possessed a melody good enough to be successful but was very static, lacked phrasing and did not really go anywhere with the melody. Hamaguchi's arrangement gives the melody the phrasing it needed, and an overall drama for the piece that was missing. The arrangement is far from perfect. I think it throws out far too much of its heart early, and the percussion at 1:50 doesn't do it for me. Still, it's definitely an improvement on the original, and not an unpleasant listen. If every love theme in Final Fantasy VIII had the impact that "The Oath" has, I would be much kinder to the game's soundtrack in general.

Moving to "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec", though I doubt many listeners of this album are going to get their kick from this track over the opener, this is still an accomplished track. The choral performance, especially at the beginning, is a bit disappointing, but the orchestra is spot on. The instrumentation also does a good job of fulfilling the foreboding and seductive atmosphere of the track. The interplay between what sounds like a flute and dulcimer against an oboe and clarinet at 1:51 is very well done. The response sounds like a hand slipping up and down your body, seducing you into the sorceress' control. The original strings do not manage to do this at all. My main complaint with the arrangement is the use of a singer that I find rather irritating at the end of the piece. I do not think I have ever heard singing more disagreeable since William Hung's performance on American Idol. Still, the arrangement is nice, though not one of the standouts on the album.

"Dance with the Balamb-fish" is everything the original was and then some bars of a pretty neat coda. There's not a whole lot to talk about here, you're basically dealing with the original theme with better production values. The original's a good one, but I thought more could have been done, and this theme isn't as accomplished as "Liberi Fatali" that it can get off without any changes. More seriously, the charm of the music box arrangement of "Fragments of Memories" is lost in a string arrangement that I feel tries to do too much. I've liked most of Hamaguchi's additions to the material over the course of this album, but I feel his additions take away from the sparkling simplicity of the original. It's not a remarkably bad piece, but given it is awkwardly placed at the end of the album, I find this arrangement uninspiring.

"Ending Theme" sits right alongside "Liberi Fatali" for being the two Original Soundtrack pieces that really belong on this album. Unlike "Liberi Fatali," "Ending Theme" develops much more slowly, but there's nothing wrong with that. Though I can't say I was pleased that "Eyes on Me" was sung, its presence here was much less intolerably under the constrictions of pop balladry, and thanks to some superb orchestral backing, actually had some emotional impact. I still don't like the melody, or the singing, but its accompaniment is undeniably charming. The piece also does a fantastic job of incorporating "Final Fantasy" and "The Prelude" without making the two themes feel gratuitous. The pieces feel a part of "Ending Theme," which is a remarkable accomplishment. It does a great job of tying the different aspects of the game together, and is one of the finest Final Fantasy ending themes. "Ending Theme" is as good, but not better than, "Liberi Fatali" and one of the top reasons to go after Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec./p>


Despite its conservative nature, I still recommend Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec as one of the stronger Final Fantasy orchestral albums. The arrangements routinely show how powerful a tool timbre is, and how even subtle harmonic changes can make a track many times more interesting. I would have liked to see more of Final Fantasy VIII's world represented on the album, although admittedly, a lot of the tracks I would have liked to see might not have been the best choices for orchestration. This album still hits the main line of Final Fantasy VIII though, and takes a lot of the tracks used to a level I would not have expected them to achieve.


Music in game


Richard Walls


Shiro Hamaguchi's first true orchestral album for the Final Fantasy series is the most dramatic and perhaps musically conservative of the series' available arranged albums. It fleshes out the promise the three bonus orchestral tracks in the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Tracks offered, acknowledges the mistakes the experimental Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale made, and offers studio recording finesse and an alternative form of orchestration against Final Fantasy Symphonic Suite. It is, however, a relatively innocent production and, in many senses, the first and sadly only album of its kind, using some of Nobuo Uematsu's best original material from Final Fantasy VIII in a range of ways to success and failure.


Hamaguchi is most successful when his principle motivations while arranging are the fans. Capable of reconciling the emotional and melodic needs of Final Fantasy music listeners with a high level of musicality, Hamaguchi principally adds drama and refinement to Uematsu's original creations when arranging them for full orchestra. The first original arrangement on the album, "Blue Fields," for example, was considered a major failure on the Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack, but Hamaguchi is able to arrange into a stunningly beautiful piece by doing relatively little. By simply replacing the dodgy synth instrument that led the melody in the original with the luscious sounds of strings and oboes, the theme resonates with gorgeous timbres and begins to glide. Through less emphasis on the obnoxious basso ostinato that near-enough slaughtered the original theme, more musical balance is attained and room is also provided to deepen the theme through the introduction of a simple chromatic bass line synonymous with the "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" theme. He saw the inspiration behind Uematsu's composition and also the faults in its execution. His understanding of the relationship between Uematsu's music and the fans is the key to his arrangement's popularity and why this album succeeded where Grand Finale failed.

Emotion is at the heart of Hamaguchi's most successful arrangements. His manipulation of timbre in "Fisherman's Horizon" is especially beautiful. Treating the main melody with a variety of resonous forces, he progressively increases the richness of the timbre as the melody is passed through a flute, an oboe, a set of violins, a French horn, and, finally, some a capella vocals that also introduce the theme. He richly harmonises all but the final force densely and colourfully with a collection of typical orchestral instruments, a variety of percussion, and even an electric piano to reflect the technological component of FH. The result is a melodic and gorgeous arrangement with a fine dramatic arch that never sounds pretentious despite its exuberance. The refinement of "Balamb GARDEN ~ Ami" is also impressive. It is initially a serene rendition of "Balamb GARDEN" that sounds very close to the original yet with an increased amount of fluidity, but eventually undergoes a gorgeous buildup in the centre of the track that allows the first of two effortless transitions into the related "Ami" theme. Not all orchestrations are so noteworthy. "Dance with the Balamb-fish" is near-identical to the original, but made buoyant by some Straussian instrumentation use and a rousing coda. The conversion of "Fragments of Memories" into a string quartet is also worthy of note. While competent technically and sometimes featuring thick harmonisation, it never quite loses the innocent feeling that characterised the tuned percussion original. It's a touching epilogue.

The album is cluttered with flaws of varying degrees of importance. One of the most obvious is Hamaguchi's tendencies to be melodramatic. "The Oath," especially, goes places where it probably doesn't need to; the original's simple but effective melody is overextended to 5:10 of beautiful cheese. The dramatic arch does feel convincing initially, but closer inspection reveals so many redundant features, unnecessary buildups, and hackneyed progressions, not to mention some really inappropriate percussion use. Fortunately, most don't notice this... Also problematic are the battle theme arrangements, which seem somehow forced in orchestral form. "Don't Be Afraid" is the worst culprit, failing to convincingly create the appropriate 5/4 rhythm without sounding musically unbalanced. "The Man With the Machine Gun" is better and has some especially strong sections, though suffers from incoherency due to the inclusion of a lot of messy and dissonant passages that simply contrast too much with the upbeat melodies. Hamaguchi generally does a good job of staying moderately faithful to Uematsu originals while expanding on them emotionally and musically; however, his attempts at experimentation and creating intense drama fail to some degree. Even the title piece, "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec," is ruined by the random appearance of a woman chanting at incredibly high volumes a load of nonsense in the most putrid of ways.

The biggest problem with the album is its emphasis upon "Eyes on Me," which appears no less than three times in the second half of the soundtrack. Love or loathe the influential yet sappy original theme, three incarnations of it is just too much and especially painful for those that for the original melodic material was weak; it's the original version that's the biggest problem, as it ultimately pales to the orchestrated rendition, doesn't fit in an orchestral album, and is a redundant addition given it's already a prominent feature in the Original Soundtrack and has a single dedicated to it. It spoils the other two renditions, which are both of considerable worth. The instrumental, "Love Grows," is arranged in a piano concertino style and the result is problematic yet admirable; while the piano lines lack in fluidity, cohesiveness, and much relation to the orchestra, the format itself is original and Hamaguchi's dramatic arrangement adds at least emotional depth to perhaps shallow original material. The "Ending Theme," just like the opener "Liberi Fatali," is one of Shiro Hamaguchi's orchestrations transferred straight from the Original Soundtrack, but this isn't exactly problematic. Both are, almost without doubt, masterpieces and among the most multifaceted and dramatic pieces of Final Fantasy music written. They deserved a place in this album, though the original synthetic version of "Eyes on Me" didn't. What I'd give to hear an arrangement of "Silence and Motion" in its place...


Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec was made for the fans and succeeds in most senses. All themes stay close to the originals while refining and expanding them, resulting in some very beautiful moments and several of the lesser-acclaimed additions to the Original Soundtrack being suitably refined. While "Eyes on Me" emphasis, incoherent battle themes, and melodrama are problematic features with familiarity, many fans won't find these features too jarring at first, especially given all arrangements are enjoyable and inspired in some way. The ultimate choice of whether to buy the album should depend on whether you are happy with musically conservative arrangements; a creative and transformative experience ought not be anticipated, though most tracks pleasantly enhance the originals. It's not the perfect album, but likely the most pleasing large ensemble Final Fantasy arranged album available for fans.


Music in game


Chris Greening

Composed, Arranged & Produced by Nobuo Uematsu
Orchestrated by Shiro Hamaguchi
Vocals by Faye Wong
Piano by Shinko Ogata
Album was composed by Nobuo Uematsu and was released on July 22, 2004. Soundtrack consists of 13 tracks tracks with duration over more than hour. Album was released by Square Enix.

CD 1

Liberi Fatali
Blue Fields
Don't be Afraid
Balamb GARDEN ~ Ami
Fisherman's Horizon
Eyes On Me
The Man with the Machine Gun
Dance with the Balamb-fish
Love Grows
The Oath
Ending Theme
Fragments of Memories
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