Buried in the Snow is like a collection of those Christmas tree bulbs that seem to be made of impossibly thin glass: grasp one too hard between thumb and fingers, and it will shatter. Globes of red, silver, and gold in which you see a clownish copy of yourself. This album’s songs are fragile odes to Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX in which the listener might uncover feelings from another console generation. Pianist and arranger TPR doesn’t merely cater to nostalgiaphiles, however. He instead creates something new that, in at least one case, transcends the original.
“Prelude” sets the atmosphere, although it doesn’t take this familiar theme to an entirely new realm as is the case with others on the album. “Bran Bal, The Soulless Village” introduces the bells and chimes that punctuate the rest of the album like slowly gathering snowflakes. Their cumulative effect is a gentle enchantment over the course of fifty minutes. The title track, at over five minutes, lulls by repetition. This is where the album really starts to seep beyond one’s skin. “Battle 1” seems like a misnomer after TPR’s adjustments, yet it is not out of place among the somber wintry pieces that fill out the album.
“The Gold Saucer” is one of the standout tracks, nearly better than the original. Although it begins classically enough, the track changes halfway through and finishes in a darkness that the following track, “Qu’s Marsh,” continues. This is the aforementioned track that is better than the original. “Rufus’s Welcoming Ceremony” is a forgettable followup, but it serves as a sort of cleanser for the ear. The rest of the album can be heard more clearly afterward.
If “The Gold Saucer” and “Qu’s Marsh” represent a dark winter’s night, then “Silence and Motion” signals the sunrise. It is filled with hope. “Unrequited Love” is another gorgeous piece, and “Launching a Dream into Space” feels like yet another love song. “Drifting” requires patience to accept its deliberate, spartan notes. It’s an exercise in self-discipline and focus that rewards the listener with a sequence of sunset strings.
The album ends with “A Place to Call Home:” we flee the snowstorm and the setting sun, come through the door, pile our coats and boots on the floor, and, careful not to dampen a sock in a stream of melting snow, sink into the sofa. We’re in familiar territory again, and we love it.
Delicate and fragile, Buried in the Snow seems in danger of collapsing under the weight of just a single snowflake. This is undoubtedly a wintertime album, and I look forward to revisiting it then. Buried in the Snow might have a few forgettable tracks, but it’s an atmospheric and thematic album and any chance to hear the world according to TPR is an opportunity to witness the poetry of an artist.