Of all the months in 2005, I can already safely say that none of them will have as much hype as August did. During the second to last week in the month, the “big five” soundtracks were released (Grandia III, Shadow Hearts:FTNW, Near Death Experience, FFXI: The Star Onions, and Tales of Legendia). Of the five, I had predicted that ToL would come out on top, but I didn’t pay much attention to the new FFXI arrange album. While Legendia was a pleasant listen, FFXI ~ The Other Side of Vana’diel was the biggest surprise of the week.
Do you like jazz? Easy listening? R&B? What about gospel? It’s all here, and extremely well done. The music is performed by the “Star Onions,” a band led by Square Enix composers, consisting of Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and a few others. Each one of them plays an instrument, and they sound like professionals.
There’s just so many things about this album that I love: the variety of styles, the instrumentation, the quality of the arrangements, and so much more. My favorite track is “Selbina,” which is a R&B/gospel/soul arrangement unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. This is one of those slow jams you can play to your girlfriend. I’m a big fan of the piano work. “Kazham” is another beast, though. It’s a jazz arrangement laden with a tenor sax, flute, and electric guitar. The heavy rock introduction is pretty misleading, but the song itself is pretty aggressive for a jazz track. And I can’t forget to mention “Blessed in Her Glorious Light,” which is a gospel vocal track, which, to my recollection, has never been done before in VGM. This is the best gospel track I’ve ever heard. And I hate gospel. I could go into more tracks, but give the samples a listen and form your own opinion.
The bottom line? Buy this, now. FFXI: The Star Onions is the “Chrono Trigger: Brink of Time” for the FF series. There’s never been anything like it before it, and there will never will be anything like it again, unless the Star Onions do it. It’s a high caliber soundtrack that will please even the most hardcore FF anti-fanboys. I’m giving it a 10 out of 10.