Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Kaze No Ne - Yae :: Review by Dave
Angelic. Mature. Fresh. These are all words that describe the beautiful voice of Yae, whose vocals for the Final Fantasy series are amongst the best. When the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Original Soundtrack came out in 2003, "Kaze No Ne" became a fans favourite as its enchanting harmonies and superb singing touched the hearts of its listeners. This single is a follow up to this success, and as vocal singles go, it is one of the best for musical diversity and sophistication. I was quite disappointed to see that "Starry Moonlit Night" and its arranged version didn't make it onto the album, as this would have made it the definitive vocal album. Nonetheless, if there were a definitive Yae experience accessible to game music fans, this would be it. Read on to see why.
1) Kaze No Ne
The album starts off with "Kaze No Ne," a repeat of the theme from the Original Soundtrack and the game. ROBA HOUSE, who specialise in renaissance string instruments, give the track an enchanting harp and strummed lute introduction. From here onwards, Yae's voice just seems to perfectly blend in with the ethnic tone that the instruments provide. With Ikuo Kakehashi on the percussion, the song develops eloquently in a fresh and clear fashion that really makes you feel at one with your surroundings. Violins penetrate the melody with their mesmeric tones around the 2:00 mark, and after this, there is a great bagpipe section that add a touch of excellence to the track. When Yae's voice elevates over the top of these forces, we are left in great anticipation of something climactic. Her voice climbs to great heights as the string section is introduced once more, and as soon as we pass 2:42 the mark, her voice is samples as she starts to harmonise her own words. This is an extremely intelligent and effective way of enhancing a melody, and to my knowledge, no other Final Fantasy vocalist has attempted this before. As ballads go, this is one of the best and Kumi Tanioka did an excellent job bringing an organic feel to the theme. (10/10)
2) Kaze No Ne featured in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Barely comparable to the original "Kaze No Ne," this theme is an experimental and minimalistic remix that not all will like. Opening with just Yae's voice against ethereal suspended piano chords and the occasional percussive sound, it soon moves into an electronic remix dominated by industrial drum beats and distorted electronic noises. It provides a new perspective on Yae's voice, which mostly sings the main melody though also provides some gospel-influenced improvisation, while the eventual addition of some more acoustic forces allows it to glide and radiate even further. This track can become bare in places, but this comes as a result of listening to the original theme and the experimental approach taken; Yae's voice still retains all of its original qualities and is even more emphasised. Though "Kaze No Ne" feels more natural in both sense, this is an intriguing and well-implemented remix with lots of strong qualities. (8/10)
3) Carol (scat)
"Carol (scat)" really surprised me, as I didn't expect it to be as fulfilling as it was. It sees the return of the sampling techniques featured in "Kaze No Ne," but this time, Yae harmonises herself in a series of canonic structures. While the theme revolves around one lusciously shaped phrase, each new motif introduced complements this and provides intricate close harmony, allowing the piece to harmoniously radiate throughout. Musically simple, but immensely refined, the everlasting enchanting effect it offers is impressive given it is a capella scat. Thumbs up to Yae. (9/10)
4) Flower of Love
The album concludes with another experimental and minimalistic creation. "Flower of Love" provides near-absolute emphasis on Yae's voice, as she sings a simple but beautifully shaped melody in a gospel-influenced style. Accompanied solely by a fragmented acoustic guitar and some barely audible percussion, only at one point do these instruments come to the foreground just prior to the recapitulation of the melody. The purity and airiness of Yae's voice is at the heart of the success of the theme and, though some may find it a little plain and underwhelming, there is no doubt that the vocalist sings from the heart and brings the very most out of the melody. Beautiful in simplicity. (9/10)
One of the few singles available that combines the exposure of a familiar but remarkable theme with daring remixes and two whole new dimensions on a vocalist's voice, this is a potentially excellent addition to anyone's discography. Though "Kaze No Ne" is its principle feature and people should be aware of the absence of "Starry Moonlit Night," "Carol" and "Flower of Love" also offer a great deal through so little. Yae amd Kumi Tanioka did an excellent job here by avoiding overly commercialising Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles while emphasising one of its soundtrack's best features. Seriously consider it if you enjoyed "Kaze No Ne" and love Yae's precious voice.
Overall Score: 8/10