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Square Enix Music Official Bootleg Vol. 3 :: Review by Don

Square Enix Music Official Bootleg Vol. 3 Album Title: Square Enix Music Official Bootleg Vol. 3
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: March 28, 2007
Purchase: Buy at iTunes

Overview

The Square Enix Bootleg series is a series of small albums released exclusively through iTunes. They feature original compositions, mainly of a electronic and rock nature, from a variety of synthesizer operators and small-time composers currently at Square Enix. This is the third in a series of three.

Body

Once again, Mitsuto Suzuki contributes two themes to this volume, both of which can be found on his first solo album, In My Own Backyard. The first theme, "Clear," is a subtle, ambient electronica theme that is very relaxing in nature. I find the piano to be a particularly nice touch as it serves to create a more tangible effect on the entire piece. I find this theme to be one of Suzuki's best in this bootleg series. His other contribution, "Common Note," is another soft electronica theme, but it also features some deep bass work at times. It's also a bit faster paced and offers a bit more diverse array of sounds. The subtle jazz influence is also welcome.

Naoshi Mizuta offers a much more engaging theme than many of his works on Final Fantasy XI. It's a jazzy electronica theme with some catchy piano work and a funky bass line. It's themes like this that impress me the most when it comes to Mizuta. Too bad they occur far and few between; the only themes like it are some of the Final Fantasy XI mini-game tracks and his work on the Flash game The Shochu Bar. I only hope to hear more like this from him in the future.

Kumi Tanioka and Yasuhiro Yamanaka reprise their co-compositional role from the first bootleg volume here. Unlike the intentionally aseptic "Damage," their composition "Aquarius Option" is a much more ethereal one. The sporadic piano and xylophone notes, combined with an eerie synth, create a very aquatic sound. It's one that, while repetitive, manages to transport the listener far away from reality. It's a really beautiful piece that demonstrates once more the electronic talent of Square Enix's music team.

"Blooming Scape," composed by Ryo Yamazaki, is a very playful electronica piece that reminds me a lot of I Am Robot and Proud. The beats are nice and the electronic layering really adds some depth to the piece. It's quite long, but during its duration, you'll hear a variety of subtle developments that center around the main melody. If Yamazaki continues to channel this sort of style in the various flash games he is currently composing, he has the potential to be a good Square Enix composer as well.

Lastly, Masayoshi Soken returns — under the pseudonym Sorbonne Soken — with "Languid Afternoon" This is a style that I really enjoy from him. Unlike "Dog Field," this piece is jazzy in nature. It features a nice melody and a nice rhythm and despite its name, it's rather energetic in nature. It's also enhanced by the use of some live performances, though something about the names indicates they're all more pseudonyms for Soken. I wonder what he is up to now. I'd like to hear some more stuff from him to see what other styles he tries out.

Summary

This volume is clearly the best of the bunch. Mizuta creates something unlike his Final Fantasy XI compositions and it ends up being a success. The Tanioka/Yamanaka duo returns to provide a haunting and ethereal piano piece. Suzuki showcases two of his solo works sans vocals and they prove to be much more entertaining. There are good contributions by Yamazaki and Soken too. In the end, this album is definitely worth picking up, especially if you like jazz and softer electronica soundscapes.

Overall Score: 9/10