There’s no question that Square Enix invested heavily in arranged music this year. Half a dozen “SQ” albums, four piano solo arrange albums, a full orchestra album, a rock arrange release … one might say it was almost too much. At least as far as one’s personal budget goes.
But it wasn’t just Square Enix that produced great arrange albums in 2012. As a refresher, here are our nominees in this category:
Piano Collections Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy Orchestral Album
25th Anniversary Rockman Rock Arrange Ver.
Re:Birth II / Romancing SaGa Battle Arrange
The Scythian Steppes
Will Square Enix sweep all three medals? Or will Capcom, Superbrothers, or Tekaru prove superior? Read on to find out…
First of all: this album is fantastic, and it’s also quite easy to procure (digital-only, Bandcamp , no minimum price). But even if it were only mediocre (it’s not), it’d be monumental in the mere fact of what it is. What we have here is the original music of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, composed by Canadian Jim Guthrie, now remixed by seven different Japanese greats (including Akira Yamaoka, Michiru Yamane, Mitsuto Suzuki, and more!) to commemorate the iOS game’s Japanese release. We at OSV want to see more of this in the future. Much, much more of this. Great concept, and great execution. Get this album.
Wondering why OSV’s year-end ceremonies only started at the end of January? Blame this album. It was released in the final days of 2012, and we barely had time to listen, evaluate, and work it into our various “best-of” rankings. But this one is special. It’s not just a new recording of arrangements we’re all familiar with (from Dear Friends, 20020220, the old OGCs, etc). These are new, exciting arrangements, giving A+ treatment to all fourteen numbered FF games. This high level of quality is also reflected in the audio’s medium: it’s on a Blu-ray disc. It’s overwhelming… in a good way. But as good as this album was, it couldn’t earn gold when looked at in the light of another Square Enix arrange album…
The gold medal, our winner for best arrange album, is Re:Birth II / Romancing SaGa Battle Arrange. The classic Super Famicom trilogy, composed entirely by Kenji Ito, now has a rock arrange album from the same man. These are his best self-arranges to date, though he is also benefiting from the help of his performers: Masaru Teramae, Atsushi Enomoto, Yu “masshoi” Yamauchi, Noriyuki Kamikura, and others. Do those names look familiar to you? With the exception of Yamauchi (the drummer), these stellar instrumentalists are current members of Falcom’s “jdk Band.” A most unexpected alliance of musicians, S-E and Falcom… and the result? Well, we gave it the gold, so we think it’s the cream of the crop. If you like melody-driven rock, you’re going to love this one. Cheers to Square Enix for investing (some) of their money wisely. This almost makes up for All The Bravest ! Almost…