A musty smell hangs in the air. An old man makes his way across the room and gently removes the music box from a gnarled shelf, pausing to blow away a layer of dust that has settled on its lid. Propping the lid open, he returns the tiny antique to its perch, gives its silver key a turn, and closes his eyes as a delicate melody drifts out. His senses are assailed by nostalgia, and his skin prickles in remembrance. “Those bygone days,” he muses aloud. “How I miss the adventurer’s life.”
This is the scene I imagine when I listen to Final Fantasy XI Musicbox Adventures, a quaint tribute album that was given to customers who pre-ordered the game’s fifth expansion, Seekers of Adoulin. It’s a short album, clocking in at just over twelve minutes, but the five melodies arranged are some of Vana’diel’s most memorable. As the title might imply, these tracks are all rendered in a musicbox style, evoking maximum sentimentality with minimal instrumentation. Because they share the same sound profile, I don’t have specific commentary for each track, but I will say that I am pleased with the songs represented. “Whispers of the Gods” remains my favorite composition from FFXI, and I am glad to see the inclusion of “Arciela,” a brand-new track from Seekers of Adoulin.
This collection comes with one caveat: to be frank, the musicbox is not the easiest instrument on the ears. Before long, its high-pitched tinkling began to bore its way into my skull, and after a few listening sessions, I opted to shelve the album until I am next struck by the nostalgia bug. While Final Fantasy XI Musicbox Adventures is not resplendent in musical diversity, its tender melodies create a wistful ambiance that brought me to a pleasant place.