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The Travelers VGM – “Ode to the Lovers” Review

Celtic arrangements of your RPG staples
The Travelers VGM
The Travelers VGM

Earlier this year a new collective of game music lovers got together to form a band of acoustic and traditional arrangements of game music. I fell in love with their first album, and they’ve returned with beautiful collection of acoustic tracks that are perfect for forest roaming, tavern chilling and nights with low lights and candles.

Opening with “Suteki Da Ne (Tavern Mix)” we have an Irish version, with beery cheers, sumptuous guitars and hand percussion a plenty for what is a quaint but punchy rendition. The male vocals are perfect, and give levity to the original, which is beautiful but I’ve yet to hear a singer even vague deliver vocals like Rikki Nakano. This completely different path is superb. As is the trio “Snowy / The Star Above the Garter / Out on the Ocean” which is a five-minute violin, guitar and bodhran megamix. They all flow perfectly into each other and the village jig pace and warmth is perfect. A vocal version “Troian Beauty” follows with a Parisian flavour and harks back to the stunning Final Fantasy Pray and Love Will Grow albums in terms of style and feel. It’s sweet guitars, flutes and delicate vocals will melt the coldest of hearts.

“Bonded By Claire” is a piece of quiet in the album. Starting off as subtle strings and slowly building into a playful pitter patter between all the instruments, it’s more of a cathartic back and forth between riffs and chords. It’s one that may be missed on first listen, but it will be one that stays with you. “Seal of the Wind” is a lovely guitar and string arrangement of the classic piece. I particularly the like the latter half where things grow and become more euphoric rather than sticking to the original.

The montage of “Aria Di Mezzo Carrattere / McKenna’s Celildh / Trip to Casmalia” takes the opera section down a notch to a cute ballad – delightfully in English for its full saccharine effect. The other two sections follow the celtic jig set up, although having them all as one track is a strange one. Following the Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon album, “Theme of Love / Winnie Hayes / The Legend of Lisalway / Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight”  feels like it could come direct from that album. It’s lush woodwind works and the transitions between tracks flow effortlessly. It follows a very simple and clean version of “Simple and Clean” which stays instrumental and has a strumming acoustic guitar on the chords and a string arrangement doing the vocals. It’s a nice change of pace from the big and bold original and signals the wind down to the closers. “Song of Time” and “Home” are both quiet and gentle short affairs that are wistfully breezy and whimsical.

Overall, this album is sublime. I have been longing for something new along the lines of Xenogears : Creid and the Final Fantasy Celtic Moon, Mahroba Song Book, Love Will Grow and Pray albums. There’s so much material that can be used and The Travelers VGM have it more than covered. My VGM arrangement album of the year? Probably!

Recommended Track : Bonded By Claire

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