Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Friday, April 18, 2008


Blue Dragon
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
Sumthing Else SE-2032-2 (US)
Disc 1 - 25 Tracks 56:53 mins Disc 2 - 27 Tracks

To videogamers, Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu is a god-like figure, based largely on his music for the long running Final Fantasy series. I haven't heard all of these scores, but they are usually a mix of beautiful melodies and exciting action pieces, sometimes with a rock sensibility. But the composer has of course written music for other games, including 2006's Blue Dragon, for which a double disc soundtrack album has been available in the far east. Now, thanks to its licensing relationship with Mistwalker, Sumthing Else Music Works has been able to release the album for Statesside consumption.
Stylistically, Uematsu's music for the Xbox 360 fantasy game is very much in the same vein as his Final Fantasy scores, with principal melody being the beautiful, pianistic "Waterside," which opens disc one as a solo, but ends disc 2 in a fine arrangement for both piano and orchestra, preceeded by another special arrangement of the bold "Blue Dragon Theme." In between, the score, a mixture of orchestral and electronic, is all over the map, and features some exciting action pieces, like "Crisis" and "High Speed Flight;" the hard-rocking "Dragon Fight," "Knock it Down," "State of Emergency," "Revival of the Ancients" and "Release the Seal;" the latter a surprising mix of rock and (initially) a capella choral work; together with the beat-driven "Advance!" "Take Back the Shadow!" and "Drill Machine." There are also inspirational marches like "Advancing Ground," "Army of the Holy Sword," "The Road to Gibral" and the grand, Oriental-styled "Gibral Castle;" as well as the big and bad guitars of "Nene's Paradise" and "Ancient Styronghold." Melodic tracks like the lovely "Cave," "Smiling Face," "Zola's Theme," "Peaceful Waterside" and the poignant "Desolate Town" and "Frozen Village," bring some calm, and even a sunny Caribbean-styled track "Debbie, the Tribe of Dance lovers" is thrown into the mix.
On the the downside, a few sometimes cutesy, and quite simplistic electronic pieces are to be found, and they can be somewhat irritating. Also, most of the cues appear to be lifted directly from the game soundtrack and, as is the nature of the beast, some of them are very brief and fade out at the end. However, overall, there is some very good music to be found on these two discs, and melody is key, which suits me fine.
In addition to the score, Uematsu collaborated with lyricist Hironobu Sakaguchi on a handful of songs, most unfortunately sung in Japanese, by uncredited vocalists, but given English titles in the track listing,the best of which is the lovely female-voiced "My Tears and the Sky," though both "Bad But Bat," featuring children's choir, and "Happy Birthday," again with female vocal, have a simple charm, and are quite infectious.


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