Square Enix has an absolute plethora of top-shelf soundtracks to choose from when they do arrangement albums. That is what makes the new Square Enix Acoustic Arrangements selection so special. Taking themes from various game series and stripping them down to acoustic guitars, pianos, strings and little else – this release is a gem.
The beauty comes from the arrangements and how bold they are. They might be performed with chamber instruments but they are still full of fighting passion. Powerful drama with arrangements of ‘The Decisive Battle (Final Fantasy VII)’ and ‘Nuclear Fusion (Trials of Mana)’ are bombastic and explosive. More lush mini orchestrations come from arrangements of ‘Showdown with Magus (Chrono Trigger)’ and ‘Steslos (Final Fantasy Legend III)’.
On the pretty and calming side ‘Legend of the Mermaid (Romancing Saga 2)’ feels like a lost Clannad song. ‘Dawn of Romance (Romancing Saga)’ and ‘Warm A Live (Live A Live)’ are regal and heartfelt. The latter track benefits hugely from woodwind and a subtle echo to pull at your heartstrings. ‘Into the Thick of It (Secret of Mana)’ is perfectly distilled with it’s light and fluffy piano melodies trickling out the original tuned percussive melody with a smile. Talking of smiles, ‘Parom & Polom’ from Final Fantasy IV contains all the original comedy as it pops a circus theme rendition. It’s quite similar in tone to the old Celtic Moon arrangement album.
There is a Latin flair that pops up from time to time with the wooden percussion and acoustic guitar. This initial pops out with the fantastic ‘The Dawn Warriors (Final Fantasy V)’ where the violin and acoustic guitar duet in the Spanish sun. The surprise track for me was ‘Four Demon Nobles Battle 1’ from Romancing Saga 3. The use of Latin guitar styles here makes the track sound like a gipsy band. The track is utterly transformed and closes out the collection with a celebration.
Square Enix can often pull out some really radical and interesting arrangement albums and this acoustic collection is one of them. These albums work best when they give a fresh slant or perspective on much-loved themes. This album smashes that.
Recommended track – Four Demon Nobles Battle 1
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