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Final Fantasy IX OST

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SSCX-10043~46 (reprint SQEX-10009~12)
Released On: August 30, 2000 (reprint May 10, 2004)
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu, Shiro Hamaguchi, Kunihiko Kurosawa
Published By: DigiCube (reprint Square Enix)
Recorded At: Sound City, Tokyo
Format: 4 CDs
Buy this album from Play-Asia
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - The Place I'll Return to Someday
02 - Memories Erased in the Storm
03 - Battle Strategy Conference
04 - The Skies of Alexandria
05 - Vivi's Theme
06 - Feel my Blade
07 - Vamo' alla flamenco
08 - Decisive Action ~ Search for the Princess ~
09 - Jesters of the Moon
10 - Steiner's Theme
11 - Prima Vista Band
12 - Stolen Eyes
13 - Tonight
14 - Your Warmth
15 - Mistaken Love
16 - Queen of the Abyss
17 - Awakened Forest
18 - Battle 1
19 - Fanfare
20 - Memories of That Day
21 - Battle 2
22 - Game Over
23 - RUN!
24 - Goodnight
25 - Crossing Those Hills
26 - Ice Caverns
27 - Frontier Village Dali
28 - Far Away in the Twilight
29 - Reckless Steiner
30 - Limited Time
31 - Zidane's Theme
32 - Black Waltz
Total Time:
72'05"

Disc Two
01 - Cid's Theme
02 - One Danger Put Behind Us...
03 - Lindblum
04 - Song of Memories
05 - Hunter's Chance
06 - Qu's Marsh
07 - Quina's Theme
08 - Aloha de Chocobo
09 - Ukule le Chocobo
10 - Freija's Theme
11 - At the South Gate Border
12 - Fairy Battle
13 - Burmecian Kingdom
14 - A Face Unforgotten
15 - Kuja's Theme
16 - The Sword of Doubt
17 - Sleepless City Treno
18 - Theme of the Tantalus
19 - Immoral Melody
20 - Garnet's Theme
21 - Gargan Roo
22 - Cleyra's Trunk
23 - Cleyra Settlement
24 - Eternal Harvest
25 - Grieve for the Skies
26 - Extraction
Total Time:
71'10"

Disc Three
01 - Ambush Attack
02 - Loss of Me
03 - Fossil Roo
04 - Mountain Pass - Conde Petie
05 - Black Mage Village
06 - Unfathomed Reminiscence
07 - Ceremony for the Gods
08 - Eiko's Theme
09 - Ruins of Madain Sari
10 - Walls of The Sacred Beasts
11 - Iifa Tree
12 - Salamander's Theme
13 - Footsteps of Desire
14 - We Are Thieves!
15 - Slew of Love Letters
16 - Quad Mist
17 - Mogri's Theme
18 - Protecting my Devotion
19 - The Chosen Summoner
20 - Keeper of Time
21 - Oeilvert
22 - A Transient Past
23 - The Sneaky Frog and the Scoundrel
24 - Esto Gaza
25 - Gurugu Volcano
26 - The Heart of Melting Magic
Total Time:
71'30"

Disc Four
01 - The Airship, Hildagaldy
02 - Secret Library Daguerreo
03 - Ipsen's Heritage
04 - The Four Medallions
05 - Successive Battles
06 - Terra
07 - Bran Bal, the Village Without Souls
08 - Pandemonium, the Castle Frozen in Time
09 - You're Not Alone!
10 - Passing Sorrow
11 - The Evil Mist's Rebirth
12 - Assault of the White Dragons
13 - Place of Memory
14 - Crystal World
15 - Dark Messenger
16 - Final Battle
17 - Bittersweet Romance
18 - Hidden Lips
19 - I Want to be Your Bird
20 - Two Hearts Not Captured
21 - Towards That Gate
22 - Melodies of Life ~ Final Fantasy
23 - Prelude
24 - CCJC TVCM 15" (15 second Coca-Cola Commercial)
25 - CCJC TVCM 30" (30 second Coca-Cola Commercial)
26 - Melodies of Life (The Layers of Harmony)
Total Time:
71'54"

The cover to the not-so-limited first print (it was widely available for years and the "regular" edition actually became harder to find).

At the end of Final Fantasy VIII's "Ending Theme," there is a short section of 8 notes. In Final Fantasy IX, that phrase is a major theme. That's not all, either. FFII's "Pandemonium," FFI's "Cavern," the pre-PSX era battle opening and victory music, and even a track based on VIII's "Maybe I'm a Lion". That's a lot of repeated material; the reason for all of it is where Final Fantasy IX stands, and what it is.

Final Fantasy IX is in many ways a throwback to the older days of Final Fantasy, with its purely fantasy setting, 4-member party, and its more normal level up and experience system. All of this may seem irrelevant for a soundtrack discussion, but it sets the tone for what is contained within the longest Final Fantasy soundtrack to date. (Over 4 1/2 hours, plus all of the material on the FFIX OST+ disc.) Given that, it is understandable that Uematsu could not write so much new material. Also, it is understandable, although regrettable, that this almost inevitably results in stretched creativity.

That's not to say that Final Fantasy IX has a bad soundtrack. In fact, taken as a whole, it is quite good in its own right. Although most of it is left off of this set, the FMV music is all unique and fully orchestrated by Shiro Hamaguchi. Three of these tracks are on this soundtrack: "Memories Erased in the Storm," "The Skies of Alexandria," and "Towards That Gate". (The remaining tracks are on the aforementioned OST+.) Hamaguchi's orchestrations work wonders with Uematsu's incidental music, and what was previously a weakness even becomes a strength as long as these moderately short tracks run.

The rest of the music turns out to be a mixed bag. Not necessarily in the worst sense, however, as a level of quality is generally maintained throughout. Some of the music here is great, then, but the rest of it is good: enjoyable to listen to, maybe even memorable at times, but really nothing that wouldn't be found in many other soundtracks.

Final Fantasy VIII's soundtrack was helped by its thematic nature. Unfortunately, although IX makes quite obvious use of themes, the arrangement here is not as well done. "The Place I'll Return To Someday" is a nice theme. The renaissance style flutes give the track the right fantasy tone for the game's setting. On the other hand, "Oeilvert," "A Transient Past," "Ipsen's Heritage," and "The Four Medallions," versions of the same theme, all sound very dry and uninspired. The fact that all of these tracks, with the exception of the first, are put in the same general part of the soundtrack makes it overkill to listen to straight through.

Of the named character themes, "Kuja's Theme," "Vivi's Theme," "Freija's Theme," and "Eiko's Theme" are the best. "Cid's Theme" is very good as well, but I don't count it here because of the manner in which it is used in the game. "Salamander's Theme" and "Garnet's Theme" are quite bland, and "Zidane's Theme," while better, is still nothing special. To be objective, the themes are quite diverse.

Diversity is in fact one of the Final Fantasy IX soundtrack's greatest strengths. The instrumentation used varies wildly between tracks, such as the spanish guitar sounds of "Vamo' alla flamenco," the booming percussion of "Qu's Marsh," the harpsichord of "Decisive Action ~ Search for the Princess ~," the ragtime piano of "Sleepless City Treno," and the electronic sounds of "RUN!" or "The Airship, Hildagaldy." Uematsu takes that diversity, and somehow creates a work that is purely cohesive, even outside of the game's context.

The vocal theme, Melodies of Life, first appears on this soundtrack, save for a few notes in one of the openings, in the track "Stolen Eyes." This is an okay track, but not really too great. The next version is "Crossing Those Hills," the first world map theme. It's an enjoyable track, although it's very laid back compared to "Main Theme of F.F.VII" or even "Blue Fields." The chorus of the song, however, isn't heard until "Song of Memories," a pleasant version of the theme's chorus with an actual vocal, albeit no words. The song itself, which doesn't appear until the game's credits, is a nice vocal. Sung in Japanese, it's better than "Eyes on Me" was, but it doesn't have the pathos of "Suteki da Ne?".

"You're Not Alone!" is my favorite track on here. It's got a nice rhythm, very creative instrumentation, and what is an oddly moving melody. It features both electric guitar and synth choir. It even sounds somewhat influenced by traditional Japanese musical forms. Another very noteworthy track is "Crystal World," fourth in a line of excellent final dungeon themes for FF games. The track is a dark version of the prelude, and the fractured sound of the notes is fascinating.

Like I said before, Final Fantasy IX does not have a bad soundtrack. However, it's not really a great soundtrack. It has the ingredients, but the preparation leaves something to be desired. The taste has some character to it, but it's hampered by quite a bit of blandness. I recommend this soundtrack only for fans of the game or general Uematsu fans. Fortunately, I am both.

Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer

Before going into musical details, I wish to cover the differences in this OST's release compared to the other FF OSTs. Now, first of all, this is the first time that DigiCube has released a multi-disc soundtrack with a catalog # of that same multiple type. FF7's OST, for example, was just SSCX-10004 for four discs. As you can see above, each disc gets its own catalog number here. Also, in the previous FF7 and FF8 OSTs, the limited edition packaging was enormously different from the regular edition. With FF9's OST, the only differences are the case (L.E. is entirely white plastic with impressions of main characters put on front) and the L.E. also gets these neat little artwork-pad thingies and sheet music to "Melodies of Life". In my opinion, pretty crappy packaging for "Limited Edition".

On to the music of FF9. The musical style...Well, there is none. The soundtrack is pretty diverse, even for Uematsu. The game fit the classic "medieval" feeling of the original FFs, but it seems that only disc 1 of the OST matches up with this feeling. The music is by no means "awe-inspiring" (at least not until disc 4) and the music is definitely not the best thing on earth...But it is a good collection that becomes enjoyable the more one listens to it.

Some of the big FF buffs will notice something very peculiar about this OST...I noticed it too, but can't identify for each track that it happens what is going on. Basically, Uematsu borrowed from previous FFs into this game. For example, check out disc 1 track 17, "Awakened Forest". This song is DEFINITELY from FF7. I was able to sing parts that come in the latter part of the song the first time I heard it, and then that part actually showed up and I'm all like "Hey! What's goin' on here?" This is definitely a song that borrows from FF7...If not with the melodies, DEFINITELY with the choice of synthesized sounds. I hear parts from that little secret area in FF7 where you were in a forest with neat little puzzles involving flies and venus fly traps and stuff...And then I hear some stuff in a Mako reactor. It just doesn't add up! Also, while not on the OST, the game itself uses a direct copy of the FF7 Shinra March in the game. Also, check out disc 3 track 25, "Gurugu Volcano". This is actually a track from the very first Final Fantasy! "Battle 1", the regular battle theme, is a remix of the FF6 and FF8 battle themes PUT TOGETHER! And how about disc 4 track 8? "Pandemonium" was the name of a castle from the Japanese FF2 and was also the name of the song...Can you hear the retaining melody? Uematsu was obviously running out of originality...But that isn't necessarily a bad thing for some of these tracks, as they sound very cool!

I'd also like to point out that, like most multi-disc soundtracks, the last disc is the best disc. Some of the stuff on the end is AMAZING...Especially the Japanese version of "Melodies of Life" (yay! now I don't have to understand those trite lyrics!). There's also some very kickin' battle music on the last disc. It's no "One-Winged Angel" or "Dancing Mad", but it stands firm on its own.

If you're an FF music fan...and you didn't buy this soundtrack yet...you really should. While not Uematsu's best (it simply isn't better than good ol' FF6) it could come in 2nd based on certain merits (depends on what you think of some other FF OSTs). You can purchase this fine piece of music at Game Music Online for $48 or at Anime Nation for $40.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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