*Note: I suggest anyone reading this review first check out either http://remix.overclocked.org or www.vgmix.com and expose themselves to the wonderful remixes therein.
I was not a huge fan of KFSS Studios’ first work, Project Majestic Mix: A Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu. Most of it felt too low quality, as if all the tracks could have very well appeared on OCRemix or VGMix. That’s not to say that either site has poor music; on the contrary, I’ve gotten countless hours of enjoyment from the fan-remixed tracks up on both sites. However, the fact can’t be denied that most of the remixers who submit to those sites lack the resources that most musicians have, such as access to a recording studio and live instruments. PMM definitely had an amateurish feel to it: it was a labor of love that managed to slip just below the minimum standard for a good tribute album.
However, when I read the list of tracks and arrangers to be included in SQUAREDANCE, I noticed two things that made me want to get this album. The first was the breadth of coverage; I noticed tracks that hadn’t received much coverage, either professionally or from a fan perspective. Yes, Chrono Cross/Trigger and Final Fantasy tracks do dominate the album, but there are also remixes of Jeremy Soule’s “10 Print Hello World” from Secret of Evermore, Yoko Shimomura’s “UB” from Parasite Eve, “Battle with Kojidoh (Smithy)” from Super Mario RPG, and Ryuji Sasai’s “Mountain Range of Whirlwinds” from Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. These tracks are definitely not standards in the VG remix community, and even less so in the “professional” community.
The second thing I noticed that made me actually want to purchase this CD was the lineup of remixers Stephen Kennedy recruited for this album. Aside from partners in crime Mustin and Dale North and some notable returnees from the first PMM album such as Haroon “FFMusic dj” Pircha and Jan van Valburg, SQUAREDANCE includes remixes by legends of the community, such as Scott Peeples, Matt Pollard, Alex “AE” Esquaviel, and David “djpretzel” Lloyd of OCRemix fame. These were accomplished, experienced remixers taking on tracks that usually lay off the beaten path.
Fortunately, the remixes in SQUAREDANCE were excellent. While I may be biased due to my love of dance music and techno/trance, I found this album to be high quality. Highest in my opinion would have to be “Cecil’s Jinn and Juice”, which features not only the talents of both Mellogear and Mustin, but a host of others who played real instruments, not simply synthesized facsimiles. Then there’s the aforementioned tribute to Jeremy Soule’s work, entitled simply “Hello World”, and CT favorite “At the Bottom of Night”-inspired “Spacecat” by Mr. North. This album combines talent with excellent compositions to present a tour de force of remixing prowess.
While most of the album’s strength comes from Disc A, Disc B has some excellent tracks as well, including “The Battle for Smithy” and “Mechanicalcobrena,” both of which stand out in my mind as being innovative renditions of well known compositions by Shimomura and Uematsu respectively.