My initial thought on discovering the existence of “T. Sekito’s Guitarworks Selection” was, “It’s about time.” See, I think Tsuyoshi Sekito is one of Square Enix’s best kept musical secrets and a criminally underused composer. Brave Fencer Musashi sports one of my favorite Square Enix RPG soundtracks, and I still have songs from that game stuck in my head to this day. Therefore, the existence of a Tsuyoshi Sekito album should have made my day. But although Guitarworks is a competent enough album, it was not quite what I wanted.
The album consists of various songs by Nobuo Uematsu, Kenji Ito, and Sekito remixed in Sekito’s guitar-driven style. The first three songs are Uematsu’s, and Sekito remixed them all in a style reminiscent of industrial and industrial-influenced nu-metal, in the vein of bands like Fear Factory, Rammstein, or Dope. The first two songs feature genre hallmarks such as crunchy, drop-tuned guitars playing percussive riffs with off-kilter rhythms. These aren’t bad songs per se, but I really miss the more melodic aspects of the original songs, particularly the first one, because it’s such an iconic boss theme song. The third song is flamenco based, but it sounds cold, clinical, and robotic. The guitars are more melodic here, and some of the leads are cool, but the warmth and “sway” that I like in flamenco music is absent. I respect the vibe Sekito is going for with the more post-apocalyptic industrial revolution feel of Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar, but the treatment of these songs could have been less overwrought.
The warmth and sway I like in flamenco music is present in track 5, a remix of Kenji Ito’s Minstrel Song from Romancing SaGa. The fourth track, a remix of a Kenji Ito song from Dawn of Mana, is great too. It absolutely soars with the kind of rousing melodies that make me want to throw on a helmet and go forth on a quest. These are the only two Kenji Ito tracks on this album, and they are also my two favorites. Of all the remix treatments the composers received, I like Sekito’s treatment of Kenji Ito’s songs the best and would have liked to hear more of them.
The remainder of the album consists of songs by Sekito from the games Gyromancer, Mind Jack, Death By Cube, The Last Remnant, and Monster x Dragon. My biggest disappointments are the lack of songs from Brave Fencer Musashi and All-Star Pro Wrestling, both of which had some of my favorite Sekito music. The music presented here is solid enough, but I still want what I want. Of the Sekito pieces, my favorites are the songs from Death By Cube and The Last Remnant. The remix treatments are perhaps the most subtle here, and while not bad, some of them are too synth heavy and lack guitar. When an album says “Guitarworks” in the title and the cover art features guitars, I expect guitar to play a starring role in every song.
I love and respect Tsuyoshi Sekito’s skills as a composer and guitarist, but I was largely disappointed by this album. The remixes of the Uematsu songs had the most guitars but were too overdone. The remixes of the Sekito songs were too underdone and could have used more guitars. The remixes of the Ito songs were just right, but there were only two of them. I know I’ve said this already, but the lack of Brave Fencer Musashi and All-Star Pro Wrestling music here is a gross oversight. If a “T. Sekito’s Guitarworks Selection 2” ever comes to fruition, I want the guitar to play a prominent role in every song, and I want songs from the unrepresented soundtracks.