Game Music, Reviews

Meet Masashi Hamauzu’s Latest Experiment: IMERUAT (Review)

August 10, 2011 | | 11 Comments Share thison Facebook Meet Masashi Hamauzu’s Latest Experiment: IMERUAT (Review)on Twitter

Masashi Hamauzu garnered quite a fan following during his time at Square Enix. Working in the background on the SaGa franchise and other peripheral Square Enix properties, he made a name for himself by developing his own distinct sound. Contributing to Final Fantasy X and later scoring the entire Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack, however, brought his name to the forefront of game music, and shortly after completing his work on the game, fans were surprised to hear about his departure from Square Enix.

While he’s focused mostly on arrangement work since that time, working on Thomas Boecker’s concerts as well as with Square Enix on the Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection and the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII-2, he’s recently found a creative outlet for his original works. Teaming up with vocalist Mina at MONOMUSIK, the duo has performed several times in Japan and Europe, and has put together a small EP that is now available to fans on iTunes.

Does IMERUAT retain Hamauzu’s distinctive sound, and is their EP worth your attention? Find out after the jump.

To answer that first question right out, the answer is yes. The opening track of this three-track EP, “IMERUAT,” starts with warm and swelling strings and piano before electronic elements come into the mix. The soundscape is dreamy and encompassing, not unlike some of Hamauzu’s work on Final Fantasy XIII, but it’s the introduction of Mina’s digitized vocal work seals the deal. I can imagine exploring Cocoon’s synthetic landscapes with this track as a musical accompaniment. The live guitar and string work raises the bar even higher, setting the stage for this music to be performed live.

The second track, “Cirotto,” is much less energetic, plodding along contemplatively as layer after layer is added to the mix. Hamauzu’s signature piano work starts us off before twangy guitar notes enter. Glitchy percussion and crystalline belltones add an ethereal quality, although the live violin work and Mina’s brief vocal performance provide an organic foundation.

“Haru no Kasumi” again sports Hamauzu’s playful piano work to which strings, gentle whispering, and a fuzzy, almost rain-like presence s added. It creates an image of quietly watching a rainstorm through the window of your warm and comfortable bedroom.

This EP has definitely left me impressed and wanting more. The three tracks total almost 12 minutes of music, meaning the group probably has many more pieces under their belt since they’re actively touring with this music. The live performances are great, and Hamauzu’s composition work is beautiful and otherworldly. I just hope they’re able to make it to the United States someday.

The IMERUAT release was being sold exclusively at their live performances, but has recently been made available online through venues like iTunes. I can’t recommend checking it out enough (only $2.97 for the three tracks).  You can also check out the group on MySpace.

Let us know what you think of Masashi Hamauzu’s experiment. How far would you be willing travel to hear them perform live?

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