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Aki Kuroda – “Final Fantasy XIII Piano Collections” Review

Aki Kuroda, the ivory master for FFXPC returns for the latest installment of the Final Fantasy Piano Collections, taking 10 tracks from the 13th edition of the series and transforming them into pianistic dreams.

Opening with “Lightning’s Theme” curiously and somberly, Aki slowly twists the track into a more complex and powerful number, especially in the big dramatic motif that dominants the song. Suddenly after one play through Aki lets her piano chops break into full swing with a furiously more uptempo and highly stylized version which really flows beautifully.

“Final Fantasy XIII – The Promise ~ The Sunleth Waterscape” signals the start of a new phase in the collections of medleys. Opening with a simple but effective version of the title screen, again Aki repeats the track again but with more fingertip skills and finess. The transitions between tracks and back again are unnoticeable too and seem as if they always were meant to be together.

“March of the Dreadnoughts” starts out quite playfully before growing into a grand scale and Kuroda’s signiture fitting-as-many-notes-as-possible flourishes really elevate this piece into one of my personal favourites on the album. “The Gapra Whitewoods” is utterly beautiful for its spacious delivery however, highlighting that sometimes minimal is best. It has a particular sense of nobility, warmth and humbleness and for that it stands out as a musical oasis.

“Nautilus” is big on massive chord poundings! Its a song you can’t sleep through at all, big bassy undertones and bright chords pounding away. It has its quite moments but the songs better moments work when its screaming along its main motif at 100 miles an hour, proud as a parrott.

“Vanille’s Theme ~ Memories of Happier Days ~ The Road Home” is another medley that blends seemlessly together. Vanille’s Theme is a pretty yet understated affair but still packs an emotional punch. The transitions make perfect sense and I love the way how even the happier pieces have a tint of sadness to them by what has preceeded.

“Nascent Requiem” is dramatic and the most classical of all the arrangements, very complex with lots of peaks and troughs. Strangely it’s also the track I found least interesting and I really don’t know why. Perhaps I’ll get it later on as sometimes tracks click with you later on in life. “Fang’s Theme” is the most fun with rumbling bass sections and swirling high ends. Usually there’s one out and out piano party track on each collection and this is about as close as you’ll get to one on FFXIIIPC. I defy anyone not to get into a bum shuffle at some point!

“Reminiscene ~ Sulyaa Springs Motif” is almost an entirely new song. There’s a section from Sulyaa Springs in there somewhere but you’ll have to wait for the vast majority of the track before you hear it. The new material is laidback and sweet and definately holds the emotion well but the Sulyaa part is where it all comes together. I do enjoy it when things go right off the beaten track sometimes and it works here.

“Prelude to Final Fantasy XIII Full Version” closes the album with a tour de force of melody, passion and prowess. It never over does itself and so it doesn’t feel overblown but there is a certain foreboding and the simplistic ending is lovely.

All in all FFXIIIPC is another fantastic collection. Sometimes the tracks do bleed into eachother where the usual varied pace and tone  appears to have been substituted for a fluid seemless flow. It’s down to personal taste. I personally enjoyed the different approach and Aki Kuorda is an absolute master. Not my favourite of the PC series but certainly an excellent addition. Now where is FFXII’s?!?

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