I really enjoy remixed, rearranged, and reinterpreted video game music. A couple of soundtracks I loved, reviewed for RPGFan, and thoroughly recommend are Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange (remixed by Shinji Hosoe and sandg) and Retro Remix Revue (jazz arrangements of classic video game themes performed by venerable session and studio musicians like drummer Gregg Bissonnette.) Thus, something like More SQ should certainly be up my alley. Unfortunately, I was left with a somewhat tepid feeling after listening to this album. Although there were some really enjoyable tracks here, I didn’t enjoy the majority and kept asking myself, “So why don’t I like this?”
Reinterpreting existing pieces of music that gamers have strong emotional ties to is a razor wire balancing act. Not only do artists have to maintain the integrity of the music they’re remixing, they must also add something to it that represents their honest connection to the music, lending that elusive “organic” feel. I don’t respond well to a remix that turns a piece I love into an unrecognizable mess, but I also don’t respond well if the remix adds nothing new and notable to the work. Sometimes remix artists rely too heavily on gimmicks and sonic accoutrements, wanting to put everything but the kitchen sink into their work. Sometimes their choices of alternate instrumentation feel like cheesy versions of the original piece. Sometimes the reinterpretation of a piece in a different musical genre takes away part of what made the original good in the first place, and…
Oh, forget it! You know what? I could pontificate on remix music all day and try to define what it is that makes a remix tune satisfying or unsatisfying for me. But even if a tune possesses every element that I deem desirable, it may lack that special something that puts it over the top for me. The bottom line is that the majority of More SQ was listenable, though unremarkable and few tracks left any sort of lasting impression. My least favorite tracks were Final Fantasy Dugem de Chocobo by Shisotex, Nier Gestalt & Replicant Kainé/Salvation by sasakure.UK, and Final Fantasy Prelude by RE:NDZ.
On the other hand, some tracks totally brightened me up. For example, Kuricorder Quartet’s rendition of the Final Fantasy Main Theme was a refreshing way to close out the album. When I think “recorder,” I think of that toy-like instrument I played back in elementary school, but it is a viable instrument that really gives the song a medieval sense of period. Final Fantasy V Main Theme by JABBERLOOP is great too, and Chrono Trigger Yearnings of the Wind by -Pia-no-jaC- is easily my favorite track on the album. Note should also be made of the 30 second section (from 4:00 to 4:30) in ROCKETMAN’s rendition of the Final Fantasy Main Theme in which a bunch of classic Final Fantasy sound effects are incorporated. I loved the shot of nitro in that part of the piece, so it is unfortunate that the remainder of the almost six-minute track is somewhat lackluster.
More SQ seems to be one of those albums that is perhaps simply a matter of taste. Personally, I didn’t like it too much outside of a few tracks, but others out there might eat this whole thing up. This is an album I’d recommend people listen to some samples and then decide for themselves if it’s for them. Regardless, I would still recommend other remix/rearrangement/reinterpretation albums like Persona 3 Portable Voice Mix Arrange and the Retro Remix Revue albums over this one.