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Top 5 Works by Nobuo Uematsu (That Isn't Final Fantasy)

Top 5 Works by Nobuo Uematsu (That Isn’t Final Fantasy)

September 4, 2018 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook Top 5 Works by Nobuo Uematsu (That Isn’t Final Fantasy)on Twitter

When people think Nobuo Uematsu, they think “Final Fantasy music” – and that isn’t necessarily always the case. Uematsu has done much and more beyond Final Fantasy, and I hope this top 5 list will broaden your horizons!

This list will not only contain soundtracks, but also his other, original work!

As I’ve mentioned before on my FF7 Bra Bra Brass concert review, I’ve never been a huge fan of Uematsu’s Final Fantasy work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good – but that’s about it. I don’t really have a huge connection to his pieces than most Final Fantasy fans, and that’s because I became interested in the series as soon as I was playing Final Fantasy XIII, which didn’t have Uematsu’s work in at all. Not that I mind! Sometimes, it’s good to break the mold – and Uematsu himself has certainly done this too.

Upon leaving Square Enix in 2004, he joined Mistwalker (a game development company incepted by Sakaguchi himself) – and worked on music for their flagship titles: Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. It’s not to say that he hasn’t severed ties with Square Enix completely, as he has been in attendance for the Bra Bra FINAL FANTASY concerts, composed the initial 1.0 pieces for Final Fantasy XIV, along with the expansion main themes, provided music for the FFXV Multiplayer Expansion: Comrades – and more.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

5: The Last Story


One of Mistwalker’s most recent games (from 2011…), The Last Story once again featured music by Mr.Uematsu. However, about 90% of the score is arranged by Yoshitaka Suzuki – the primary arranger for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, a huge contributor and arranger in the FFXV albums, and other recent Final Fantasy titles. While his FFXIV arrangements were the best by far, being lengthy and suitably drawn-out – I can’t say his work on the Last Story is of an agreeable standard. What I mostly hear is Zimmer pastiche, and that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Some of his arrangements are good though, but they’re too spread out from the bombast and Zimmer-like tenadices. “Dance of Death” is a completely solo Uematsu work, and one of the best on the album:

Video credit: Pives

4: Lord of Vermillion

We’re back into rock territory again (no surprise there, this is Nobuo Uematsu) with Uematsu’s score for the Japanese arcade game, Lord of Vermilion. It’s what you would expect from Uematsu, but there are a couple of twists and turns that set this above the Black Mages initial work. Firstly, it’s hard rock – and it’s done quite well. I wouldn’t call it metal, but it is certainly less progressive. This is probably due to the game’s nature as an arcade game – where action would be happening instantly. Second, is the vocal main theme. I don’t think Uematsu has ever created a theme this majestic before. I have to keep coming back to it, it brings a tear in my eye. With all the flak I throw at Uematsu, you can’t deny that his work is sublime at times.

Video credit: gamemusicSTAR

3: Blue Dragon

Throughout 2006-2009, Uematsu produced a number of scores outside of Final Fantasy. Blue Dragon was one them, and – while not exactly the best – it certainly is a commendable effort. Hearkening back to the sounds used in Final Fantasy IX, Uematsu at times sometimes uses his old samples. Take from that what you will, personally I just wished the man got with the times. He’s improved since though, and the works to follow this will show you that. You may be thinking, “Harry, you sure are talking a lot of bad things about this, so why is #3?” Well, it’s the tracks recorded with live instruments that get me hooked in the most. Also, there’s a lot of synth in this score too – but it’s not done abrasively. Actually, this score was the first of Uematsu’s to make extensive use of live instruments – and who better than Hiroyuki Nakayama to handle them? I’ve found myself becoming a huge fan of Nakayama these past few months, he is certainly a talented individual. His string arrangements are characteristic and certainly amazing. I could list his many works here, but to keep on the topic at hand, I’ll just leave a link here for those interested. His arrangements complement Uematsu’s strong melodies perfectly. He teamed up with Deep Purple’s lead singer for the game’s boss theme, “Eternity”. It’s a mixed result. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it. I’ll stick with the instrumental version.

Going off a tangent, but this is the first game to introduce me to Akira Toriyama’s artwork. I love everything he draws. ‘Nuff said.

2: Guin Saga

The very first anime score Nobuo Uematsu has produced for was Guin Saga. He worked with Hiroyuki Nakayama for the string arrangements, and Tsutomu Narita, for all other arrangements. I am quite familiar with Narita, as he provided all arrangements of Uematsu’s work in FFXIV 1.0, and has been acting as main arranger/additional composer for recent Uematsu work (one example being FFXV: Comrades). As usual, Nakayama’s strings are as lush as ever – and, when combined with Uematsu’s melodies, it’s basically a match made in heaven.

What I’ve heard from the first disc really impresses me, but I haven’t listened to the full score – since I’ve yet to finish watching the anime! I really like Guin Saga, and I like his equally manly theme.

Video credit: Akuroth1

1: Lost Odyssey

The most emotional work Nobuo Uematsu has ever produced, from a game that definitely needs to be brought into the current time. And by that, I mean – I would kill for a remaster. One without the excruciating load times. In many ways, Lost Odyssey was the game of my childhood.

As for the music, well – I’ll let that speak for itself! Collaborating once more with Hiroyuki Nakayama, Uematsu creates absolutely stunning, original material full of emotion. In fact, the music of this game was praised by many fans of Uematsu. With my favourite pianists, such as Benyamin Nuss, providing piano pieces and performing live at the game’s concert “Symphonic Odysseys, a Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu”. I would kill to see Lost Odyssey music performed live more often.

For me, this is the best work he’s ever created. If you’ve played the game too, then this will resonate with you more. Both of the main themes, “Eclipse of Time” and “What You Are”, are sung by Sheena Easton.

Video credit: Synapsidae

The lyrics, for those interested:

Sun and moon
Day and night
Darkness and the light

Comes and goes
All so fast
Nothing ever lasts

It seems I’m living in a place
Forgotten now by time’s pace
So I’m left alone

You and I
Hand in hand
We have just begun

Somehow I’m
Holding back
What I feel for you

I’m always living with my fears
The time is swiftly drawing near
I’ll be left alone

Our moments pass on by
Then people pass on by
And love keeps drifting away
It all keeps drifting away

One day I’ll be there
Someday I’ll be there
End of this long and lonely road.
There is a place where tenderness calls the Solitude a friend

No one is with me
Nothing is with me
All that remains are memories
There is a place where coldness and warmth are Woven into one

Do I love?
Do I hate?
So I hesitate

When I know
When I feel
I may be too late

It seems I’m living in a world
Where joy and sadness have no shape
They are both the same

The sky is passing by
The clouds are passing by
The rain keeps falling on me
It all keeps falling away

One day I’ll find it
Someday I’ll find it
Within the vast and endless world
There is a place where tenderness calls the Solitude a friend

No one is with me
Nothing is with me
All that remains are memories
There is a place where coldness and warmth are Woven into one

Our moments pass on by
Then people pass on by
And love keeps drifting away
It all keeps drifting away

One day I’ll be there
Someday I’ll be there
End of this long and lonely road.
There is a place where tenderness calls the Solitude a friend

No one is with me
Nothing is with me
All that remains are memories
There is a place where coldness and warmth are Woven into one.

—-

Well, there we have it. I hope you think about checking out these great works.

You can check out more of Uematsu’s work in this similar list by Pat Gann in 2015.

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