Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption – 1 of 3

For those of you unfamiliar, the website, OC Remix, a website dedicated to remixes of vido game music, just launched their 14th Album Project, Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption, a remix of the Final Fantasy IV album by Nobuo Uematsu.

Now, anyone who has ever met me will be able to tell you that this if my favorite of the Final Fantasy series, the first one that I ever really sat down and played, and it has a special place in my heart. The story is timeless and the characters engaging and believable, from a man driven to seek ultimate power for revenge of a fallen daughter to the selfless sacrifice of a man to save his friends and loved ones. I’ve played the game many times, both the American and Japanese versions, on the SNES as well as the Playstation, and it is one of my goals in life to get as many people to play this game at least once.

Now to talk about the original album. I feel this is one of Uematsu’s best works to date. From the sweeping sounds of the main theme to the beautiful simplicity of Rydia’s theme, to the pulse pounding battle music (which I might add, they used the main theme of for Final Fantasy IX), this album had it all.

In this post, I’ll discuss the first disc of the three disc album. Eventually, I’ll do a review of the second and third discs as well as the bonus tracks. But first some overall feelings of the album. A first listen through of some of the tracks didn’t blow me away like I had hoped it would, but that was just me putting the OST on a pedestal. After sitting down and really giving the first disc a thorough listen, I have to say I’m quite impressed. Several of the standout tracks include:

Audio Fidelity’s remix of the Kingdom of Baron, titled the Might of Baron, which takes the brass heavy, imperial sound of the original and keeps the spirit the same, adding a driving guitar and bass line which adds wonderfully to the main theme. About three minutes into the piece, the guitar and bass lay out and a soaring brass line takes over to make way for the return of the guitar/bass line, with the guitar taking center stage for the next minute or so. This leads to the last minute of the piece which sees the brass lines and the guitar line trading back and forth, the guitar lines taking the track out.

Tweek’s remix of Battle 1, titled of Fiend and Man is a fantastic piece sure to get the adrenaline going. Starting with guitar distortion and feedback before kicking into the very symphonic battle theme with the pulsing back beat ever in the ear of the listener. The overall tempo is slowed down a bit, showing where Uematsu got much of his inspiration for the later, much more recognizable “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII. The theme trades between the orchestral sounds and a few guitar lines. About two minutes into the piece the theme changes, prompted again by guitar distortion and feedback. The backbeat changes, and the song loses a great deal of it’s intensity, instead changing to a feeling of dread, still very effective. At just past the three minute mark the original intensity of the piece comes back and closes the piece out at 3’36”.

Cyril the Wolf’s remix of Rydia’s theme, titled Emerald Beauty is one that took me a couple of listens to truly enjoy. The first minute of the piece keeps the elegance and simplicity of the original while adding some nature sounds to the background. At just past the one minute mark, the theme is taken over by saxophone. Just after two minutes, the guitar that opened the piece comes back with a solo lasting until about the 2’40” mark when the saxophone takes a solo, both of them providing a different feel to the main theme, ala a small jazz quartet. The last few minutes of the song are rather unremarkable, leading us back to the saxophone taking the original melody to the end of the piece at 5’42”. The first minute is truly the greatest part of this piece, which is a shame. This piece has already had a number of beautiful remixes done to it already, both by fans, and musicians contracted by Uematsu, and it’s been done better before.

Children of the Monkey Machine and audio fidelity’s remix of the Bomb Ring, titles RDX Necklace is… interesting. Those that have listened to some of CotMM’s other mixes on the site know that his mixes are… different. They generally have a strong industrial sound to them, and this track is no exception. I don’t usually enjoy these kinds of songs, but the fact that the original theme, is so starkly apparent over the growling industrial base sounds that just engages my ear for some reason or another. I can’t even really explain it. The track clocks in at 4’36”.

OA, Nutritrious, and the Fabul Mens Choir close out the first disc with a remix of the Fabul theme, titled Fighting For Tomorrow. From the initial gong sound starting the piece to the sounds of the choral singers and the distinct sounds of the instruments, this piece does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of Fabul’s distinctly eastern influences in the game. The first minute and some change is fairly subdued, with the sounds of the mens’ voices and the percussive instruments building up for the main bulk of the piece. After a small break, we get the action of the piece, when Baron’s forces attack Fabul to capture the wind crystal. The guitar and percussion lines start driving the piece, punctuated by the choral voices, really giving a sense of urgency to the piece that is reminiscent of the desperate defense of the castle in the game. Every once in a while, the sounds of a koto, a Japanese musical instrument can be heard, bringing the main line of the piece out again. The piece ends, rather abruptly at the 5’30” mark.

Those are just a few of the selections from the first disc. A review of the second and third discs will follow in the future.

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