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Aki Kuroda – Final Fantasy X Piano Collections Review

Final Fantasy’s Piano Collections are becoming a staple of the release schedule with only numbers 1-3 missing out (although we’re still awaiting on FXII). Final Fantasy X Piano Collections gives us 15 piano tracks to get our teeth into.

“In Zanarkand” opens in true tragic style, improving on the tear-jerking original despite keeping very faithful to it. There’s excellent use of pauses to emphasis the song and the sorrow. It’s a true masterpiece and a great way to start an album. “Tidus’ Theme” follows with a nice version of the song, that is played very complexly and acutely making it less of a plod and more of a precise journey.

“Besaid Island” is a flowing, complex and bouncy tune that will hook you from the instant it starts. It’s a complete make over from the original and it’s a surprise to hear it on here. Its more beautiful and more fun loving and you can really hear the tune.

“The Hymn Of Faith” is an epic song, which succeeds but also fails. The whole song is a build up to nothing, and while the song only has a few chords, you’ll either be hooked by it to listen to the good build up, or you’ll be put off by the repetition and the fair lack of progress in the song as its very rough. “Travel Agency” is nice enough song, but everyone will be sad to hear the hand claps that I think made the original are gone. Therefore, for me, while the tune was nice, nothing has really changed for it to be on the Piano Collections.

“Rikku’s Theme” however is a great inclusion as it really gets the tune bouncing out in the most cute and picturesque manner possible. While being a fairly simple conversion, it works a treat. “Guadosalam” is a great song to include as the original has its melody muted and distorted. The song itself is very dark and mysterious and at times awkward but it does feel like a fresh new track has been included.

“Thunder Plains” is a higher key and much faster version of the song. The way it flows and is played much more complexly shows off the song, as they all do throughout the album. Complexity is really the key to “FFX Piano Collections”. “Raid” is a fast paced song again, with some great playing and some dramatic loud parts and culminate to a fantastic song. “The Way Of Purgation” is a hypnotising song that rolls off the speakers with ease. This version is faster and much more complex again. The song is perfect once again.

“Suteki Da Ne?” is the piano version of the vocal song, which is played down at the beginning to a sombre piece, but once it gets to the chorus the song breaks out into the bitter-sweet song it should be. Sadly, despite Aki Kuroda’s best efforts, the song doesn’t seem to come across as well as say Melodies Of Life, which is shame, but the alternative approach is still good to have. “Yuna’s Decision” is played in a downbeat manner from the start, in a sort of jazzy smokey bar way. The song doesn’t transpose well onto piano until you get to the refrains as its too sparse. This is a filler track, but I think “Yuna’s Theme” would have worked so much better.

“People Of The Far North” however is a magnificent tune, and gets a star rendition. From the quietest of plinks to the dramatic shudders from the piano; each note is played with emotion and precision. Great stuff. “Final Battle” is a powerful version of the orchestrated song with the ever present complex playing holding everything easily while the piano trashes out every note as angrily as it can.

“Ending Theme” is a beautiful tune that soaks up all the emotion from those final few scenes of the game that stopped everyone’s hearts. It’s the most appropriate way to end the album, especially as it acts almost as a medley.

Final Fantasy X Piano Collections is a worthy purchase. The playing is extremely complex and the sound is very full on. One or two of the songs may not catch your heart in the slightest (or as in my case now having owned it for a few years, they may slowly grow on you), or maybe a couple will not be the rendition you’ll have wanted, but there is real raw emotion throughout that’s the difference between good and great.

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