acoustic arrangements folk game music j-folk music review VGM

Yuji Hasegawa – “Final Fantasy Songbook Mahoroba” Review

Final Fantasy Songbook “Mahoroba” is a collection of songs arranged by Yuji Hasegawa and half of them have vocals sung in Japanese by Manami Kiyota. Taking various songs from different Final Fantasy games they are arranged using traditional instrumentation.

A perfect example is the opening “The Place I’ll Return To Someday” which is just a simple translation of the FFIX track to real life woodwind. It’s very fragile but sets the tone of whats to come. “Summer Album – Eyes on Me” is a rendition of the song originally sung by Faye Wong. This time in Japanese and in a folksy/jazz style, the song translates very well to a different genre. Manami’s voice is not as strong as Faye’s but it’s certainly not a failed attempt and I quite enjoy the fact we now have an alternative version.

“This is Probably Goodbye” is a vocalised version of the good old farmboy song from FFVII. The fact it doesn’t stray far from the roots of the original definitely helps retain the cute and chirpy nature of the arrangement – a beautiful lazy piece of folk. “Town” (taken from FFIII) is even more laid back, ballad-like with some beautifully soft vocals.

“Fisherman’s Horizon” is a beautiful rendition of the song from FFVIII. Using electric piano, woodwinds and various guitars it carefully plucks its way through a six-minute epic that builds and evolves throughout. This arrangement made me appreciate the original again. “A Walk In The Rain” is a swinging folksy rendition of “Descendants of the Shinobi” from FFVII which is a fabulous lighthearted piece that Kiyota’s vocals are made for. Plus I’m sure we have a banjo playing! What more do you need?!

Strangely track seven is taken from the Ten Plants – a game/story/thing that had many of the top vgm composers contributing to the soundtrack. Not a Final Fantasy song no, but the acoustic guitar and piano led piece fits like a glove to this set of songs and the actual melody reminds of a few other Final Fantasy tracks rolled together. I’d like to hear if anyone else can hear them too. “Daguerreo” from FFIX is the third and final instrumental – a beauty acoustic guitar arrangement that could lullaby anyone off to sleep.

“Transient” taken from FFV’s “Far-Off Hometown” once again goes from the earthly instrument route for a direct fight off against its previous vocal arrangement on FFV’s “Dear Friends” CD. However the arrangement could not much more different in tone if it tried. This is one of the highlights of the album as it builds and builds itself up to a huge crowd pleasing arm swaying climax and for really the first time on the album – everything really stretches its legs properly. A personal favourite of mine this track.

The album closes with “The Light Goes Around” from FFIX’s “Unfulfilled Desire” a piano and vocal piece that ends the album on a suitably low-key note as the album is relatively low-key throughout. Leave the final track to run though and you’ll get a full traditional band reprieve of the opening track which is superb.

After “Pray” and “Love Will Grow” – I think people were expecting a third similar album to round off the classical orchestration beauty that was those albums. However this is something completely different – not better nor particularly worse. Its a different genre and deserves a mention for trying to be a bit more different. It’s not as accessible as the other two FF Vocal Albums but if you enjoy your music buried at the earth’s roots – I’d definitely recommend this album for you.

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