Lullaby’s For Materia Hunters
Music boxes are wonderful instruments. Their cute, delicate, mbira like qualities can make a tune sweet, loving, melodic and sometimes even creepy. I love the fact that game music arrangements come in all kinds of formats and the small but niche sub-genre of music box arrangements has received a bumper collection of arrangements from Video Game Music Box. They’ve made album arrangements of Pokemon, Super Mario Bros, Undertale, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII. I’ll be reviewing Chrono Trigger’s album separately as I love that soundtrack too but I wanted to show the love for the series with a soundtrack most dear to my heart, Final Fantasy VII.
Opening with the heart smasher “Aerith’s Theme”, the music box is percussive and melodic. It doesn’t try to symphonic suite the music box, it’s a very simple arrangement but that’s what makes it so effective, as it’s not doing anything a music box itself can’t realistically do. It patters out the theme beautifully before slowing down to that wind-down crawl and its hear where you may have a little tear in your eye. The wind-down happens on each track and its one section of what makes this album magically emotive. “Ahead on our Way” and “Gold Saucer” show you also why it’s emotional – the music box often lacks the deep bass to make something really boomy – so you are left with the airy cuteness, with the latter sound less triumphant and much more lonely and delicate when the trumpets are taken away. “Tifa’s Theme” and “Chocobo’s Theme” are slowed down a little and so again even the Chocobo theme feels less celebratory and more whimsical. “Rufus’ Welcoming Ceremony” feels like a bird dance, whilst “Crazy Motorcycle Chase”, “Fighting” and the dissonant “Chasing the Black-Caped Man” all feel like a lost track from Hiroki Kikuta’s Secret of Mana soundtrack because they are generally more complex arrangements of pacey tracks. Rounding off the album “Final Fantasy VII Main Theme” is exquisite, “Cosmo Canyon” is just as wise and humble as its original, “Farm Boy” is a petticoat dream, “One Winged Angel” has a sinister edge to it but as it is limited by its medium a little, lacks the weight of the original, piano or orchestrated versions and may take a few listens to gel, before “Highwind Takes to the Skies” ends the album is a wonderful arrangement of a lesser known classic.
Overall, I really love the album and its actually some of the lesser known tracks that work best here. Because the music box is always hitting at the same weight and tempo throughout the track, it means the arrangement whilst melodic and beautiful, is also rigid and so it lacks that human embellishment or swing which means some of the most commonly heard tracks initially sound great but a bit robotic. However, as a music box collection – this is superb.
Recommended track: Highwind Takes to the Skies
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