Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition

Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition. Буклет, перед. Click to zoom.
Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack Limited Edition
Буклет, перед
Covers release: Mika
Composed by Hayato Matsuo / Hitoshi Sakimoto / Masaharu Iwata / Nobuo Uematsu / Taro Hakase / Yuji Toriyama
Arranged by Hayato Matsuo / Hitoshi Sakimoto / Kenichiro Fukui / Masaharu Iwata / Robin Smith / Yuji Toriyama
Published by Aniplex
Catalog number SVWC-7351~4
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 4 CD - 100 Tracks
Release date May 31, 2006
Duration 04:53:17
Genres
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Overview

Before I begin reviewing this album, I believe a formal warning must be issued; if you go in, expecting more of the same Uematsu, with heavy emphasis on thematic material, you will most likely not be pleased. The Final Fantasy XII Original Soundtrack brings a new feel to the series, and though far from the ordinary, it is still a musical masterpiece.

Sakimoto returns to write for the world of Ivalice, and though I have not played the game, the music seems to be fitted to the style of gameplay seen so far. What Sakimoto lacks in melodic material, he makes up for with extreme sophistication and orchestration. He is a master of the orchestra, and it is featured prominently in nearly all tracks on the album. He moulds the ensemble to his own will, producing pieces in all ranges of the emotional spectrum. From sad themes of loss to intense, riveting war music, Sakimoto delivers in wondrous finesse.

Body

The start of the album is a very appropriate one. The first tracks introduce some Final Fantasy mainstays; "The Prelude" and the majestic "Final Fantasy" main theme. It all begins with "Loop Demo," a track featuring the "Prelude" and a hint at battle themes appearing later in the soundtrack. Following "Loop Demo" is the gorgeous "Final Fantasy," powerfully arranged for orchestra. The first two tracks provide a wonderful introduction and preview of the rest of the album. Next up is one of the better tracks of the entire soundtrack, "Opening Movie." While it may not be up to the standards of Uematsu's "Liberi Fatali" in terms of sheer power, it is a worthy opening piece. Sakimoto's strong orchestral focus becomes clear in this track, as each section utilizes the ensemble to maximum potential in able to bring out all the emotion.

Disc One brings many good pieces to the table, but also a number of lacklustre ones to go with it. There are some wonderful location themes, particularly "The Royal City of Rabanastre" and "Giza Plains." "Rabanastre" is light and cheerful, including a pizzicato string line under a playful flute melody. Occasionally the brass will make an entrance and add some dynamic to the piece, but it mostly hovers around a softer melodic core. "Giza," simply put, is a masterpiece. I don't believe I have ever heard such a beautifully epic location theme anywhere. It has many beautiful contrasting sections, and also is more melodic than most of the tracks Sakimoto presents. The use of rhythm is inspired and fresh, and all of these elements come together to form a grand theme.

However, the rest of the location themes don't quite live up to "Giza" and "Rabanastre," though show their own merits. "Clan Headquarters" is brimming with energy from start to finish, though is often a bit over the top for my personal tastes. "The Dalmasca Eastersand" is also energetic, though being more intense and dramatic than the other location tracks. However, like most of Sakimoto's work, the absence of a thematic core hurts the piece. "Rabanastre Downtown" has a lovely rhythmic feel to it, but it sorely lacks in anything else. It's nonsensical the entire way through, throwing random styles out including what could have been a gorgeous string melody if developed better. "Dalmasca Westersand," "Nalbina Fortress Town Ward," and "The Garamscythe Waterway" are decent, but lack the quality of the other location themes.

"Boss Battle" shows off Sakimoto's expertise writing tense, rhythmic orchestral battle themes. While not his best on the album, I can't really say anything negative about this theme; all of his battle music is very impressive and shows a high level of mastery. Despite the lack of a true melody (unlike Uematsu's battle themes), it is dangerous, suspenseful, and very intense. "Penelo's Theme" adds a nice touch of cheerfulness amidst many darker, intense tracks. Several other pieces within the first disc have a playful attitude, but most of them are underwhelming, and often annoying because of horrible use of high woodwinds.

The first disc also has a great number of very short tracks, which, while effective in game, are nigh pointless on the soundtrack. "Level Up," "Mission Start," "Mission Fail," "Separation with Penelo," "A Small Happiness," "A Small Bargain," and "The Dream to be a Sky Pirate," all suffer from this. Obviously, most of them would not be suited for much extension, but "Separation with Penelo" and "The Dream to be a Sky Pirate" both feature extensive development despite being around half a minute long. I feel that both of these pieces most definitely would have benefited from extension, but track-game synch may have prevented that.

A number of 'darker' pieces make an appearance as well. "Infiltration" shines above the others, because though it is dark in nature, it is still intense and has enough contrast to hold interest, unlike "An Omen". Indeed, Disc One presents us with a number of wonderful themes, but also several that are sub par and seem without any form of direction. The lovely "Penelo's Theme," the epic "Giza Plains," the diverse "Opening Movie," and the intense "Boss Battle" highlight the first disc and are all very worthy listens. 

Disc Two opens with the suspenseful "The Princess' Vision," which is unspectacular at best. It consists of a lot of chords and annoying high string motifs. There is no center theme, just a number of slight string and flute melodies laid over tremolo strings. The piece sets an atmosphere, but its lack of any melodic coherence ruins what could have been an enjoyable track. A number of other suspenseful and dark tracks make an appearance on Disc Two. "The Secret of Nethicite" is intense and dangerous, utilizing more rhythmic passages and instrumental diversity. Though again, there is little in terms of melody, but the piece manages to remain interesting without it. "Barbarians," however, isn't so successful. Sakimoto relies very heavily on bass in this piece, with low strings, low brass blasts, and the occasional horn dissonance. Overall, the piece suffers from a severe lack of variation on all fronts.

"Clash of Swords" is a top-notch example of Sakimoto's mastery of the orchestral battle theme. Throughout the entire piece, the ensemble is always used to maximum potential in terms of providing an intense and dangerous atmosphere. "Clash" makes wondrous use of horns and percussion; cymbals are constantly used to great effect, and horns provide soaring melodies and tension with fast runs and dissonance. The use of percussion and brass is phenomenal. "Battle Drum" is what one might call an "experimental" piece. It consists primarily of various percussion instruments and low brass. The rhythm in this piece is simply unrivalled, and the brass provides this piece with one of the most dangerous atmospheres heard in the soundtrack. Where "Battle Drum" excelled in danger, "Speechless Fight" excels in pure intensity. The pulse of this piece never lets up; throughout, it is immensely chaotic and borderline atonal, lacking much of any true center. "Abyss" is a hit or miss; if you like atonality, this is a near masterpiece. If you don't, you most likely with loathe this piece with your entire person. It is full of action and apparent randomness, with dissonant brass and piano followed by a sweet and mysterious flute solo. Its genius in its nonsense, and portrays its title about as perfectly as any track could.

Location themes on this disc are good, but they lack the character of those present on the first disc. "Barheim Passage" is a wonderful mixture of timbre. Combined with the sweet piccolo is a very heavy low string pulse, eventually transgressing to a peaceful harp with gentle string backing. A good theme, however it is too repetitive and boring to be considered a highlight. "Nalbina Fortress Underground Prison" and "The Dreadnought Leviathan Bridge" continue with the dark, suspenseful nature of the themes on this disc. Unlike "Barheim Passage," however, both themes remain interesting thanks to Sakimoto's intuitive sense of rhythm. He uses it to great effect in both pieces, providing interesting changes throughout the length instead of using the same dull chords to usher in a sense of danger. Also, the variety in instrumentation is very welcome; instead of relying heavily on strings, he uses members of all orchestral families.

Here to break the suspense, "The Skycity of Bhujerba" is a drastic change in style from the majority of tracks on this disc. It has a playful, upbeat feel to it, and uses cheerful backing from a variety of instruments and rhythms to support the relaxed melodies. "A Promise with Balfear," "Game Over," and "Basch's Reminiscence" suffer from lack of development, each clocking in at less than one minute apiece. "Basch's Reminiscence" is the worst of the three, made up only of held choral chords. "A Promise with Balfear" develops very well in its very short length, combining power with suspense. "Game Over" isn't much of a piece, having only a bittersweet harp melody that wanders around and becomes more pointless than sad. "Theme of the Empire" is perhaps a culmination of the styles present on this disc. It combines the intensity of "Speechless Battle," the danger of "Abyss," the playfulness of "Skycity of Bhujerba," and the rhythmic prowess of "Battle Drum." How all this fits into one track is amazing; a number of sections appear throughout the length, and helps keep the listener in tune throughout its entire 7:49 of music.

The famous "Chocobo" makes an appearance on this disc as an unreleased track. It is a decent track, but a perfect example of how Sakimoto's sophistication can also be harmful to a piece. The playful theme loses much of its humour because of its orchestration. Though not grand, it still comes off as being too serious and metrical. Disc Two is filled to the brim with suspense and darkness. The sheer number of tracks based around this atmosphere is daunting; this disc becomes very hard to listen to more than once. "Challenging the Empire," "Upheaval," and "State of Emergency" all sound much too alike to be appreciated, and their consecutive positions on the soundtrack only hurt them more. However, the battle themes are completely worth this disc; "Clash of Swords" is pure orchestral mastery. "Speechless Fight" and "Battle Drum" both retain a sense of danger and intensity unrivalled by most battle themes. "Theme of the Empire" is a mixture of many styles, and effectively works as a summation of this disc in its entirety. "Clash of Swords," "Theme of the Empire," "Speechless Fight," and "Battle Drum" highlight this suspense-filled disc. 

Thankfully, Disc Three is considerably more diverse than the second. It starts with "The Sandsea," which is similar in style to several tracks on the last disc. "Sandsea" manages to be more interesting overall, as it quotes melodies from "Opening Movie" and utilizes active background parts, keeping the piece moving at a comfortable pace. "An Imminent Threat," unfortunately, is more of the same suspenseful strings, horn dissonance, and ominous bass. Probably effective in the game, but listening to the soundtrack, the formula gets old very quickly.

Disc Three treats us with some awesome battle themes. "Esper Battle" is the very essence of power. A strong martial beat remains throughout the piece as a choir belts out a powerful chord progression, echoed later by the blaring brass. The sheer strength of this piece is amazing to behold. It is repetitive, but to be honest, that doesn't matter one bit as the muscle of this piece more than makes up for it. "Desperate Fight" is a bit different than the other battle themes, as it is more based around melodic figures than effects and ambience. Sakimoto uses purely gorgeous, soaring horn melodies over tense strings and percussion. Mallet percussion also gets a role, keeping rhythm during slower sections. "Clash on the Big Bridge" rounds out the battle themes on this disc, and just like previous themes, is completely awesome. This track is a remix of the popular "Battle with Gilgamesh" from Final Fantasy V, and as such is likely to be a hit-or-miss track. Personally, I think Sakimoto did wonders with the theme, adding in dissonance, a much more sophisticated and full orchestration, and (of course!) lovely horn countermelodies. A snare drum keeps a steady rhythm throughout, as cymbals and bass drum provide accents at the perfect moments. Also, this battle theme is entirely melodic, as it is built around Uematsu's famous tune. The combination is, in my book, a massive success.

The location themes have a nice variety of styles, though several are sub-par. "Ozmone Plains" is one of the better location themes of the soundtrack, being based around a lovely melody. It is upbeat, utilizes a unique instrumentation, and makes great use of various percussive instruments. The energy flows throughout, but never gets irritating. "The Salikawood," however, is very underwhelming. It has a very strange style, and partway through begins to even sound like elevator music with an aimless piano solo. Eventually, through the ambience comes a climax, with very little leading up to it. Another theme, "The Golmore Jungle," suffers from similar problems of randomness. A bunch of pointless ambience and orchestral noise clutters this piece, and covers what slight interest there is. Partway through, an intense brass section comes out of nowhere, and while the section itself is actually quite good, it doesn't fit in with the rest of the piece. "The Mosphoran Highwaste" utilizes melodies from "Opening Movie," and to great effect. It is energetic, rhythmic, atmospheric, and melodic. Combining all of those into one track is strange for Sakimoto, but it is a very welcome change from the same old formula. It has a grand orchestration and a beautifully chaotic arrangement.

"Time for a Rest," "A Moment's Rest," and "Near the Water," are all good pieces in a brighter style, which is a wonderful contrast from disk two. Featuring simple accompaniment and themes, they are pleasing to the ears. "Near the Water" is especially inspiring; it features gorgeous melodies, lovely chord progressions, and beautiful support parts. Hearing this amidst the darker tracks prominently featured on this soundtrack is a great thing; it comes out of nowhere, but its beauty is astounding and easy to appreciate. "White Room," though mostly chord progressions played in the strings, is a touching piece. The chords seem to float in your heart with sorrow intertwined within the bittersweet strings. This is "The Princess' Vision" done right. In game, this track is probably very effective; just listening to it is aural bliss for someone who enjoys pieces that tug at the heart. "Seeking Power" and "Abandoning Power" are both presented in a peculiar style. I can't adequately describe it; the best I can say is Sakimoto mixes ominous and creepy backgrounds with sombre melodies, and it works. "Seeking Power" is especially eerie in its usage of the piano and strings to offset the sombre horn.

Two happy, playful themes are presented. "You're Really a Child" is a mere thirteen seconds long, but just begs for development. It starts off as if it will have a great melody, then dies out as quickly as it started with no hint of an ending whatsoever. "Chocobo" is the other theme, this being its second appearance on the soundtrack. Similar to the last arrangement, it lacks the humour and style of Uematsu's chocobo theme and is much too sophisticated to be fitting.

The third disc is perhaps the most diverse. From "Esper Battle" to "White Room," several emotions and feelings are shown in the music. This disc also features wonderful battle themes, focusing on the sheer power of the orchestra. "White Room" and "Near the Water" are both beautiful pieces and a wonderful contrast to the commonplace intensity and brooding presented throughout this soundtrack. "Esper Battle," "White Room," "Near the Water," "Clash on the Big Bridge," "Ozmone Plains," and "The Mosphoran Highwaste" highlight this disc, a variety of superb compositions. 

"Esper" is a track that tries, but unfortunately fails. It is intense, but it is so over the top with noise it is hard to take it seriously. A choir sings the melody from "Esper Battle," but it sounds completely out of place. The noise definitely hurts the piece substantially, as it is also extremely repetitive and loops early. "The Beginning of the End" succeeds, however. Sakimoto once again shows off his rhythmic and orchestral mastery. It is powerful, yet melodic and interesting. The accented strings provide an effective support to the piece, adding more color and drive. "The Beginning of the End," as the title suggests, is a great preview of the ending tracks and the great stuff that awaits.

"Ashe's Theme" is very unique for a character theme, especially for a female. It beings very mysteriously, then soon becomes very proud and noble thanks to a floating melody and strong accompaniment. The noble section dies out to an intense martial beat, adding in near atonal bass. Percussion adds flavour of all sorts, backing the horn melody and pounding bass with mechanical sounds. Throughout, it is very thematic, and, at times, beautiful. "To the Peak," "The Sky Fortress Bahamut," and "Shaking Bahamut" all effectively lead up to the final conflict. They do so by means of strong melodies and riveting backgrounds, often chaotic. Sakimoto utilizes percussive rhythm to maximum capacity and instils a greater sense of "this is it" than anything before in the soundtrack.

Here it is; "The Battle for Freedom," the climax of the entire soundtrack. Sakimoto's mastery of orchestral battle themes shines through here more than ever before. He combines styles in a wonderful way, starting with a sombre chord progression, into ominous ambience. As strings begin to gradually speed up and build intensity, harsh brass is added until the piece finally blows up with massive power. Brass takes center stage here, as ominous melodies are blared through with unrivalled power. A constant tremolo string background provides the perfect support for such power. Eventually, all of this builds into a chaotic battle theme with noble melodies. Powerful brass, colourful strings and mallet percussion, rhythmic percussion, and atmospheric strings combine to form a powerful and intense epic.

"Ending Movie" follows, summing up the soundtrack as a whole. Sakimoto uses constant melodic material, much of it from previous pieces on the soundtrack. All of this forms a great sense of nostalgia hearing the quoted themes in various styles, from proud to sombre, intense to playful. As always, the orchestration is sophisticated, and it couldn't be more appropriately done in this piece. It reaches a power rivalling that of "The Battle for Freedom," a sad beauty superior to "White Room." It is a perfect representation of this soundtrack and the capabilities of Sakimoto. "Kiss Me Goodbye" presents a beautiful vocal theme, sung by Angela Aki. It takes a simpler approach than past Final Fantasy vocal themes. Orchestration is not very heavy, consisting almost entirely of piano and string accompaniment. Aki sings the theme beautifully, and the background suits her voice very well. The ending of the piece is very effective, and as such brings an effective end to the soundtrack.

"Symphonic Poem 'Hope'" makes an appearance in a shortened form, and is an appropriate addition to the end. Though the poem doesn't make an appearance, it plays during the credits and features some inspired violin writing and an expressive performance of the piece. Disc Four has several great pieces, and is possibly the best disc in the album. Everything is covered, from the beauty of "Ashe's theme" to the power of "The Battle for Freedom," from the sadness of "Ending Theme" to the emotion of "Kiss Me Goodbye." Overall, disc four is a very well rounded disc, filled to the brim with wonderful music of different styles.

Summary

Sakimoto presents a different soundtrack; instead of the melodic focus of Uematsu's past works, Sakimoto utilizes ambience, power, intensity, and beauty. He is a master of the orchestra, a master of rhythm, and a master of harmony. From his gorgeous, soaring horn melodies to the tense, ominous strings, his skills in orchestral writing shine through. The lack of melody hurts this soundtrack; you won't walk away from listening humming a tune, because there are few to hum. Most of the music seems without direction; if you can look past that, however, you can see the genius behind the writing. Occasionally, seeing any genius is impossible, as some tracks are just blatantly bare of inspiration.

Sakimoto makes up for the lack of melody with his battle themes. "Clash of Swords," "Speechless Fight," "Battle Drum," "Esper Battle," "Boss Battle," "The Battle for Freedom," "Desperate Fight," and "Clash on the Big Bridge" all have their merits, and all make for a great listen. They are beautifully intense, and the power is often amazing. Overall, if you go in hoping for more Uematsu, you will be sorely disappointed. Go in with an open mind, and you may just leave with a new entry into your personal top five.



Album
9/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Jared Miller

Overview

From the moment Square Enix began marketing Final Fantasy XII, the game was heralded as a new direction for the series. From what has been seen thus far, both in media and in the game's demo, the game is keeping that promise. In many ways, the game, set in the Ivalice and under the direction of Square Enix's fourth development team, resembles the Final Fantasy Tactics universe than the worlds of the mainline series. In keeping with that notion, it is not surprising that Square chose Hitoshi Sakimoto to score the new incarnation of Ivalice after scoring approximately half of the original Final Fantasy Tactics. This score certainly differs from the other mainline soundtracks due to the startling stylistic differences between composer Nobuo Uematsu and Sakimoto. Sakimoto's soundtrack is on the whole far more dramatic than any soundtrack featured in the main series, and features some of the series' most exciting musical moments. It is a fitting score for the series' new direction, but there is a degree of storytelling that seems to be missing from the soundtrack as a whole. Still, it is certainly a soundtrack worthy of joining other masterpieces under the Final Fantasy name.

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itoshi Sakimoto HAS in fact wrote the majority of the material on this album. The strength of the album is in his handling of atmosphere and of environment. Also, though in his own distinctive way, Sakimoto has continued the long tradition of stellar Final Fantasy battle themes, with a large number of varied tracks contributing solely to that purpose. The game's most endearing theme is introduced in "Opening Movie (Theme of Final Fantasy XII)". The piece is a gripping and cinematic introduction to the whole of the soundtrack, and it introduces a lot of the colours you can expect to hear throughout the album.

The theme pops up here and there on the album, varying in effectiveness and subtlety. It is used in the background of the opening to "The Dalmasca Estersand", and appears later in the body, although in a very ornamented manner such that the theme is really only musically present in the piece. The character of the theme itself does not impact the piece all that much. One of the more notable occurrences of the main theme is in the game's final battle track, "The Battle for Freedom". This track, which is a standout among a group of stellar battle themes (and would have even without the main theme), is the album's longest. Fortunately, it is one of the album's few longer tracks that deserves its length. It nears nine minutes, and does not loop until around 6:20, and even still, Sakimoto does not repeat the segments entirely as in the beginning. The loop point is a bit awkward, but it is a small blemish on a wonderful track. It starts with a pensive introduction that gradually builds to a violent and Stravinsky influenced theme at 2:23. The main theme is introduced at 4:20, and its heroic colour is a marked yet appropriate contrast to the other violent colour the piece possesses.

"The Battle for Freedom" is on its own as a battle theme in this game, as it spends time developing more than one major mood. Most of the other battle tracks are essentially monochromatic, although they remain effective. One of my favourite battle themes on the album, "Battle Drum", for example, never departs from its driving, ominous percussive thunder. Which is not to say the piece goes nowhere, simply that it focuses its energy towards creating one scene, and it succeeds quite well. With unfamiliar percussive sounds, inspired rhythmic activity, and a dark, accented brass line, "Battle Drum" creates an effect entirely its own. The loud and energetic "Esper" is another stand out among a list of sparkling dramatic pieces. No piece on the album creates a sense of fearful awe quite as well as this. From the metallic percussion providing the background atmosphere, to the striking choral sound, to the rich string line that moves from the accompaniment motif into the foreground with ease as the choir departs, there's a sense of effortless power dripping throughout the piece. It's the kind of power that doesn't even need to exert itself to send mere mortals from one galaxy to the next.

Sakimoto's monochromatic atmospheric pieces are spot on as well. "To the Place of the Gods" is lightly orchestrated features Sakimoto's unmistakable prowess for creating mystic melodies and suitable accompaniment for them. The piece's B section at 1:16 swells into one of the majestic moments on the album. Unfortunately it never seems to go nearly as far as it seems to want to go. Still, the majesty is present, and the mysterious beauty of the first portion of the theme is overwhelming. "Rabanastre Downtown" takes us to a totally different environment. The entire piece has an Eastern colour, but does not fall victim to shallow mimicry of ethnic music that plague both movie and game music pieces of such a nature. Though the composer's desired reference is clear, his personal identity is also clearly present as well.

With so many strong tracks on the atmospheric side of things and so strong on the environmental side of things (I've only listed very few favourites from a remarkable cache of them on this soundtrack) I would have expected to enjoy this album a lot more than I did. What made this album ultimately unsatisfying to me was the lack of emotional material that really drew me in. The only character theme that really drew me in was "Penelo's Theme" which seems very suited to the character she seems to be, although I get the feeling there's more to her character than the piece lets on. "Ashe's Theme" is musically interesting, but fails to make me feel anything for the character. It seems to be trying too hard. There's plenty of contrast in the theme, most of the piece being dramatic and driven with a drop of mystery and a very pleasant theme given some time as well. The problem is moves so quickly that it doesn't feel honest and often feels melodramatic.

There are also two tracks on the album entitled "Sorrow". Neither track really tends to grab me in a sorrowful way. They have moments that suggest sorrow (especially in the Imperial version) but they move so slowly to the meat of the material and still seem to hold a lot back. While I appreciate Sakimoto's subtlety, there are times where music needs to really throw its heart out there, and I feel this soundtrack as a whole is far too emotionally reserved. Most of the emotional statements in the album come in small pieces such as "Separation with Penelo", "Basch's Reminiscence", and "The Dream to be a Sky Pirate", but none pass one minute and all feel like they are being rushed to their conclusion.

Though the majority of the soundtrack is devoted to musical ideas new to the series, a few of the Uematsu's most popular tracks have been revisited in Final Fantasy XII. The Sakimoto treatment of these tracks is generally quite good, although not an awful lot is done with the most endearing of the themes. Uematsu's venerable "Prelude" is orchestrated by Sakimoto as the opening to "Loop Demo" and is one of the more conservative arrangements. The addition of what seems to be a children's chorus and some metallic percussion help add to the magic of the piece. "Final Fantasy ~FFXII Version~" is even more conservative, with percussion being the only major change to the original piece.

The evidence of Sakimoto's authorial powers is far more pronounced (as in pronounced at all) on his visitations of "Victory Fanfare", "Chocobo", and "Clash on the Big Bridge". The most successful of these arrangements are Sakimoto's two takes on "Chocobo". The first of the two, "Chocobo FFXII Arrange Ver. 1", resembles the traditional cutesy Chocobo image, and manages to put even more humour into Uematsu's melody through its cute orchestration and rhythmic energy. "Chocobo ~FFXII Version~" has moments significantly darker than most "Chocobo" renditions to date, but through great rhythmic vigor and frequent grace notes in the woodwinds help lighten the mood and keep the charm of the piece intact. "Victory Fanfare ~FFXII Version~" is hampered by a terrible lead trumpet sample, but otherwise does a good job of transferring the memorable melody into a new game.

"Clash on the Big Bridge ~FFXII Version~" is without doubt my biggest disappointment of the tracks borrowed from earlier Final Fantasies. The original "Clash on the Big Bridge" was one of my favourite Uematsu compositions — both appropriately chaotic as a battle theme, but light enough in character to suit the bumbling Gilgamesh. Sakimoto's rendition attempts to pull the track further to the dramatic side, but fails to create an intense enough atmosphere to rouse me, and in the process, robs the piece of all the charm and character it once possessed. The cause isn't aided by a lifeless trumpet lead, but the piece mainly deconstructs because of poor accompaniment. Besides some wonderful brass countermelodies, the remainder of the accompaniment is dry and lacks resonant intensity or any piercing quality, robbing the piece of the effect of Sakimoto's increased dissonance. The piece is at its best when the xylophone is taking centre stage, implying both the chaotic atmosphere Sakimoto was pushing for, and the humorous original. Unfortunately, compared both to an outstanding original, and the stellar battle tracks on this album, "Clash on the Big Bridge ~FFXII Version~" is a disappointment.

The old guard is wrapped up with Uematsu's only new composition for the album, the game's vocal theme, "Kiss Me Good-Bye". With the tradition of Final Fantasy vocal themes, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" could have ended up far worse. Though I don't list "Kiss Me Good-Bye" among my favourite tracks on the album, a strong performance from Angela Aki grants some honesty to the theme. The music itself isn't especially grating, and is actually one of my favourite Final Fantasy vocal themes in terms of harmonic and melodic material. However, the tradition of over-orchestrating these pieces hasn't died away yet, even with the switch from Shiro Hamaguchi to Kenichiro Fukui as arrangers, and all of the honesty you're going to get out of this piece is coming out of Angela Aki's mouth.

In addition to revisiting old themes, some of Hitoshi Sakimoto's old co-workers make appearances on the soundtrack, although they constitute only nine of the one hundred tracks this soundtrack offers. Hayato Matsuo (most famous for his work on Ogre Battle) and Masaharu Iwata (of Final Fantasy Tactics) contribute some solid tracks to the soundtrack. Of all the pieces offered by Matsuo, the timbrally motivated "Abyss" is my favourite. The variety of sounds is quite expressive, and though bordering on atonal, the music taken only as notes seem to make a great deal of sense and leave the impression of an abyss in one's mind. "Seeking Power" has a sound unlike any other on the album that juxtaposes an understated sinister feeling with one of complete wonder that is very effective.

Though Iwata only composed two tracks, they are both among the best on the album. "The Sochen Cave Palace" is one of the most beautiful tracks in the game. From its suggestive choral opening, to its melodic core carried by the flute, there is a stately and chilling beauty in "The Sochen Cave Palace" that is unmatched on the album. Iwata's second contribution, "The Feywood", is a haunting action track that pulses with the intensity of battle, but retains the mystical feeling that suggests a haunted forest. A highly recommended piece for accessible listening.

The final piece of music not composed by Sakimoto on the album is "Symphonic Poem "Hope" ~Final Fantasy XII PV ver.~", which was contributed by Yuji Toriyama, and Robin Smith. The piece is quite beautiful and affecting up until the third major segment of the piece beginning around two minutes which is simply too cute to speak to me. The opening of the piece is quite beautiful though. Take note that this version is shortened from the one available in the five moment single dedicated to the Symphonic Poem.

Summary

Final Fantasy XII is a very accomplished and musically interesting soundtrack. The amount of ground covered is quite impressive, and the sounds within evoke a wide variety of moods and environments. However, I ultimately feel that the music fails to provide the psychological insight and emotional directness that a soundtrack ought to have. There's a lot of great, picturesque music here, and the battle themes are exceptional. The music is well produced, but it occasionally seems to indulge in itself a bit too much, and seems to have some sort of obligation to give music to obscure instruments, even if they don't particularly fit. Still, it's hard to condemn this album, and it's a very solid effort. By both Final Fantasy's standards and Sakimoto's standards, it's better than most. It just fails to give that emotional push that makes a truly great soundtrack.



Album
8/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Richard Walls

Composed, Arranged & Produced by Hitoshi Sakimoto

Originally composed by Nobuo Uematsu and arranged for FFXII by Hitoshi Sakimoto (1-1, 1-2, 2-3, 2-12, 3-11, 3-13, 4-19)

Additional Composition:
Nobuo Uematsu (4-19)
Masaharu Iwata (3-21, 4-8)
Hayato Matsuo (1-29, 2-4, 2-21, 2-22, 3-4, 4-6, 4-7)
Taro Hakase & Yuji Toriyama (4-20)

Arrangement:
Hayato Matsuo (1-29, 2-4, 2-21, 2-22, 3-4, 4-5, 4-7)
Masaharu Iwata (3-21, 4-8)
Kenichiro Fukui (4-19)
Yuji Toriyama & Robin Smith (4-20)

Orchestration:
Hayato Matsuo (1-3, 4-18)

Lyrics & Vocals:
Angela Aki (4-19)
Album was composed by Hayato Matsuo / Hitoshi Sakimoto / Masaharu Iwata / Nobuo Uematsu / Taro Hakase / Yuji Toriyama and was released on May 31, 2006. Soundtrack consists of tracks with duration over more than 4 hours. Album was released by Aniplex.

CD 1

1
Loop Demo
01:36
2
FINAL FANTASY ~FFXII Version~
01:16
3
Opening Movie (Theme of FINAL FANTASY XII)
06:57
4
Infiltration
03:09
5
Boss Battle
03:23
6
Auditory Hallucination
03:13
7
Secret Practice
02:09
8
A Small Happiness
00:08
9
The Royal City of Rabanastre / Town Ward Upper Stratum
05:27
10
Penelo's Theme
02:56
11
The Dream to be a Sky Pirate
00:33
12
Little Rascal
03:02
13
The Dalmasca Eastersand
04:02
14
Level Up!
00:06
15
Naivety
03:01
16
Coexistence (Imperial Version)
02:47
17
Signs of Change
02:21
18
Mission Start
00:07
19
Rabanastre Downtown
02:40
20
Mission Failed
00:12
21
Quiet Determination
03:32
22
The Dalmasca Westersand
01:34
23
Clan Headquarters
02:46
24
A Small Bargain
00:08
25
Giza Plains
04:42
26
Separation with Penelo
00:30
27
The Garamscythe Waterway
02:54
28
An Omen
02:46
29
Rebellion
02:56
30
Nalbina Fortress Town Ward
02:22

CD 2

1
The Princess' Vision
03:18
2
Clash of Swords
02:35
3
Victory Fanfare ~FFXII Version~
00:28
4
Abyss
03:24
5
Dark Clouds (Imperial Version)
02:00
6
A Promise with Balflear
00:36
7
Game Over
00:20
8
Nalbina Fortress Underground Prison
04:34
9
The Barbarians
02:28
10
Battle Drum
02:46
11
Theme of the Empire
07:49
12
Chocobo FFXII Arrange Ver. 1
02:49
13
The Barheim Passage
03:51
14
Sorrow (Liberation Army Version)
03:35
15
Basch's Reminiscence
00:56
16
Coexistence (Liberation Army Version)
02:50
17
The Skycity of Bhujerba
03:48
18
The Secret of Nethicite
03:24
19
Dark Night (Imperial Version)
02:00
20
Speechless Fight
02:32
21
The Dreadnought Leviathan Bridge
03:53
22
Challenging the Empire
03:19
23
State of Emergency
03:15
24
Upheaval (Imperial Version)
03:13
25
The Tomb of Raithwall
03:35

CD 3

1
The Sandsea
02:20
2
Esper Battle
03:23
3
Sorrow (Imperial Version)
02:49
4
Seeking Power
03:13
5
Desperate Fight
02:44
6
Jahara, Land of the Garif
04:58
7
Ozmone Plains
02:30
8
The Golmore Jungle
03:50
9
Eruyt Village
04:13
10
You're Really a Child...
00:13
11
Chocobo ~FFXII Version~
02:03
12
An Imminent Threat
02:44
13
Clash on the Big Bridge ~FFXII Version~
02:44
14
Abandoning Power
02:36
15
The Stillshrine of Miriam
03:23
16
Time for a Rest
02:10
17
White Room
03:44
18
The Salikawood
02:37
19
The Phon Coast
03:58
20
Destiny
02:57
21
The Sochen Cave Palace
03:38
22
A Moment's Rest
04:31
23
Near the Water
03:12
24
The Mosphoran Highwaste
02:49

CD 4

1
The Cerobi Steppe
03:13
2
Esper
02:44
3
The Port of Balfonheim
02:14
4
Nap
00:14
5
The Zertinan Caverns
03:22
6
A Land of Memories
04:01
7
The Forgotten Capital
04:16
8
The Feywood
04:14
9
Ashe's Theme
05:30
10
Giruvegan's Mystery
02:39
11
To the Place of the Gods
03:24
12
The Beginning of the End
03:27
13
To the Peak
01:49
14
The Sky Fortress Bahamut
03:21
15
Shaking Bahamut
00:41
16
The Battle for Freedom
08:51
17
The End of the Battle
01:13
18
Ending Movie
06:17
19
Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII-
04:57
20
Symphonic Poem "Hope" ~FINAL FANTASY XII PV ver.~
03:53
21
Theme of FINAL FANTASY XII (Production Announcement Version)
03:05
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