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Nobuo Uematsu – “Final Fantasy V Dear Friends” Review

“Dear Friends” is the arranged FFV album, selecting 14 songs and transforming them into real instrumentation.

“Ahead On Our Way” starts off with a nice chant, before using keyboards and drum loops to re-produce the song in a way that sounds like an 80’s synthesizer song. It is very faithful to the original and is a lovely start to the album. “Lenna’s Theme” is given a beautiful rendition on the softest of guitars, flutes and pads ever, to give a soothing lullaby that is so very easy on the ears.

“Pirates Ahoy” is a magnificently dark and devious song, using a guitar and keyboards to re-do the song to great success. Then suddenly, the song changes into chanting and wild animals. It blends well and gives a sense of a hard journey. “Critter Tripper Fritter” is a great comical song, using every bizarre instrument it can possibly use to make it sound like a circus gone mad! The result is three minutes of pure lunacy and one that is very welcome in this diverse album.

“Intention Of The Earth” is the most dramatic piece so far, with soaring keyboards, bass filled drums and gongs. This song comes to life with the improved instruments, as do they all, as you can get the real mysterious feel with all the true zest of the instruments. “My Home, Sweet Home” is a vocal song, which is sweetening and charming. Using both English and Finnish, the song emphasises the importance of your real home and your mother tongue. It’s a great piece of insight and one I have a special spot for. “The Land Unknown” is done in the same way as the opening track, staying very faithful to the original and reacting it with real instruments.

“Tenderness In The Air” is done almost completely on harpsichord that makes for an unusual diversion from the usual piano and it is played very well indeed while “Waltz Suomi” is done in a typical French manner and keeps nicely in time, doing the main theme in various different off-key and off beat styles before having a graceful finish.

“Fate In Haze” makes itself nicely mysterious with its slow tune but that fades away to become a beautiful tune for the choruses and a good build up for a nice finish again. “As I Feel, You Feel” is the first piano based song on the album, and they’ve given it to the right song. Also, there is a narration read over the top of the piece. The music with starts to sound a little lost, suddenly finds its place in accompaniment. The narration is heartfelt, and the singing in the background along with it makes it sound very isolated and cold. Strange, an acquired taste, but well done.

“Musica Machina” gives us a dramatic piece, that will have you stomping your feet to the big beat and heavy synth strings. “Music Box” does exactly what is says on the tin, but how so! It’s an adorable tune, no one can listen to this song and not think “Aww!” The closing track is fittingly “Dear Friends” which is played to precision on a guitar, and before long other instruments fit into the song making it a lovely warming away to end an extremely varied album.

“Final Fantasy V Dear Friends” is a rare treat. It does a bit of everything and does it all extremely well, with no reason to fault it at all. If you loved the game’s music, you’ll adore this. There’s always that extra pinch of excitement seeing how synth music turns out on the real instruments and this is a lesson on how it should be done.

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