Acoustic Guitar – Final Fantasy Style
Long term readers know I love my game soundtracks and whilst I haven’t had the chance to review nearly as many as I’d like, I’ve been rediscovering my love for arrangements of soundtracks that really revitalise what could be either simpler classic tracks or arrangements that go all in for a theme or direction. William Carlow Reyes does both with his new guitar collections album that covers Final Fantasy IV tracks.
Eleven of the twelve tracks are renditions of Nobuo Uematsu’s works. William has a very specific style that straddles classical finger plucked playing and latin/traditional folk flair. This means that at all times the acoustic guitar is poised and precise with its often dual-layered approach to the arrangements. There’s often an undercurrent of chords that plays out similarly to a harp arpeggio whilst the main melody will play over the top. Despite the genre and pacing of the original, Reyes tones these down to warm, whimsical numbers and so even though there is pace and tension in “Fight 2” or “Within The Giant” – it doesn’t come out as rocking – it usually turns to the increased complexity of notes and chords to provide the tension instead. This is where the Latin flair comes in as often you hear a leaning towards a flamenco heat as speedy turns of phrase embellish phrases and motifs. It’s cool and mighty impressive but not in the way I made maybe expected. Perhaps labelling it as Acoustic Guitar Collections may have been more accurate.
Its funny then that the arrangements, whilst usually very close to their originals, often shine in the quieter moments. “Rydia” and “Troian beauty” are utterly spellbinding and stand out on first listen. It’s because the whole production has a soft caress to every string pluck. Its lushness comes from its warmth and so when the album moves away from joy or longing it’s less cohesive. “Golbeza Clad in Black” offers the switch up and places the guitar through a distortion filter similar to a Leslie cabinet that makes the guitar sound watery. More production switch ups like this will expand the palette for future collections. Reyes’ original piece “The Crystals” rounds off the album really well too. Inspired by the soundtrack itself, you can hear nods to different motifs but it is entirely its own creation and that’s both impressive and artistic. It fits right in.
All in all, William Carlos Reyes does a fine job in arranging these classics for guitar. The choices are safe but its the safest choices that work out the best here. It’s a good foundation for a future collection.
Recommended track: Troian Beauty
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