Distant Worlds - Music from Final Fantasy :: Review by Dark Cloud
Aside from Final Fantasy based music (mainly Tour de Japan and Dear Friends), I don't really enjoy live albums. Most of the time, the performances just don't have the flair of the original theme and the arranging of it is poorly done half of the time. Distant Worlds - Music from Final Fantasy, the third Final Fantasy music concert in the United States, is not one of these albums. It includes tracks previously not heard as good in concert, such as Liberi Fatali from Final Fantasy VIII, and a combination of "Memoro de la Stono" and "Distant Worlds" from Final Fantasy XI. In fact, the quality and arranging is so good that, if remakes were ever made for these games and an orchestra were used, this is what the music would sound like. Read on to find out why!
One of the most popular opening themes from the Final Fantasy series, "Opening ~ Bombing Mission" of Final Fantasy VII fame, starts off the disc. This is probably the best arrangement I have ever heard of it and does not disappoint. The next track, "Liberi Fatali," is good as well. I am a big fan of this song, and thought it was arranged nicely as well. However, the choir really didn't seem to have much emotion towards it at times, such as at the 1:09-1:15 mark. However, as the song nears its amazing climax, everyone seems to pick up. The instruments sound more powerful and the choir does a good job of perking up as well.
Next is "Aerith's Theme," again from Final Fantasy VII. Adding a new beginning with soft and slow woodwinds, the piano melody we all know and love kicks in, backed with strings and woodwinds. After a few minutes and basically a loop, we get to a strong string / woodwind ensemble, carrying the main theme with some brass instrumentation in the background. At around 4:30, the brass close the piece, ending a good arrangement. Two Final Fantasy VIII tracks are paired next, those being "Fisherman's Horizon," and "Don't Be Afraid." "Fisherman's Horizon" is a nice, slow, relaxing piece, with a good choir and moving strings. "Don't Be Afraid," which is one of my favorite themes from the original game, is a powerful arrangement, led by a strong brass section throughout, with occassional well-done percussion parts too.
Next, we have my personal favorite piece from the whole disc, "Memoro de la Stono ~ Distant Worlds" from Final Fantasy XI. Originally two seperate songs, they are combined for a fantastic arrangement. The "Memoro de la Stono" portion is held up by an emotional choir sound, which "chants" the melody originally presented by strings. "Distant Worlds" is a vocal piece, performed by Susan Calloway. It's a good piece... not one of my favorites, but is still performed well. Next is "Melody 2002" which has various songs from the first three Final Fantasies, such as "Prelude," the "Final Fantasy I Main Theme," "Matoya's Cave," "Chocobo Theme," and "Rebel Army Theme." All are excellent additions to the melody, my personal favorite of them being "Rebel Army Theme." "Theme of Love" is the next track; it's nothing really special, just a slow tune with a clarinet melody (sometimes with strings). It is a great arrangement, however!
A Final Fantasy IX track is next, and I bet you know which one it is. "Vamo' Alla Flamenco" begins with a solo guitar which provides the melody until it gets upbeat and goes full orchestral. A Latin style is presented next, followed by a slower portion and finally another guitar part and then a very fast and powerful ending. "Love Grows," another Final Fantasy VIII, is another popular piece and arranged nicely. However, it's just another slow piece and, in my opinion, has nothing about it that makes you want to keep listening. "Opera 'Maria and Draco'" from Final Fantasy VI is another fan favorite. It's a long arrangement, 12:15 to be exact. It begins slow, followed by a male vocalist, and then a "march-like" melody. It then goes back to a slower portion for up to about halfway, where we hear another vocal section. The first part is being done by a female, and then a male. Next comes a combination of both vocalists and then the march-like part again, where the medley finally ends on a fantastic note!
Rounding out the disc is "Swing de Chocobo" and "One Winged Angel." "Swing de Chocobo" is a very, very good arrangement and one of my favorites. Beginning with percussion and low brass, the actual melody you'll recognize comes in the form of (and this is why I like it) a trumpet solo. After some more melody out of different various sections, the track loops, and then adds a bit extra jazzy parts (and more trumpet solos), to finish it off. The finale is "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII. It's not a whole lot different from previous arrangements and concerts, but what kind of Final Fantasy concert would it be without "One Winged Angel?" Yeah, exactly my point! Still, it's a good thing to end a fantastic concert on.
Distant Worlds - Music from Final Fantasy is probably the best live album of Final Fantasy music you could buy. It has excellent recording, which in past albums was a problem for me, because I don't want to hear clapping and cheering after a performance. I would give this CD a perfect score, but I feel that the track list was a bit lacking. I was glad to see the inclusion of "Liberi Fatali" and "Memori de la Stono ~ Distant Worlds," but was sad to see that pieces like "To Zanarkand," "Rufus' Welcoming Ceremony", or maybe even "Seymour Battle" didn't make it. Still, you'd get a good listen out of this, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a live Final Fantasy album!
Overall Score: 9/10