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Final Fantasy XI Premium Box Unreleased Tracks :: Review by Chris

Final Fantasy XI Premium Box Unreleased Tracks Album Title: Final Fantasy XI Premium Box Unreleased Tracks
Record Label: Square Enix
Catalog No.: SQEX-10094
Release Date: March 28, 2007
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


One of two exclusive additions to the Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack Premium Box was a disc compiling tracks not previously released on a soundtrack for the franchise. While there are a few tracks present that were explicitly rejected from their soundtrack releases, the majority of the pieces were added to Final Fantasy XI or its extensions after the accompanying soundtrack was released. While the majority of the music for each extension is premiered with the game's release, new pieces are added on a frequent basis for various mini-games or the conclusions of extensions. As a result, there are many important themes in these unreleased tracks ranging from wedding oathes to Christmas jingles to even the first vocal theme of the series. In addition, The Star Onions reunited to offer a bonus arrangement. Ought Final Fantasy XI music enthusiasts check out this disc?


The disc casts us back to the beautiful organic tones of Rise of the Zilart with "A Road Once Travelled" for the Yughott Grotto area. It once again demonstrates Naoshi Mizuta's strengths crafting evocative woodwind melodies and gentle guitar accompaniment. The recollection theme "One Last Time" is Nobuo Uematsu's final instrumental arrangement of the "Memoro de la S^tono" main theme. Unfortunately, the jarringly synthesized electric guitar melody feels out of place with an otherwise gorgeous exotic composition. The theme is also briefly interpreted in "To the Heavens", which builds from a fragile harp and oboe introduction into a haunting string-based climax, and "Moongate", an exotic theme tinged with coldness. Other emotional additions include "Bloody Promises", a dark cinematically inclined orchestral work, "Hidden Truths", an imitation of an Erik Satie Gymnopédie that suffers slightly from a mundane melody, and "Revenant Maiden", an enigmatic but enchanting harp-centred piece.

There are also a few mini-game themes at the centre of the CD. The Chocobo raising music "Choc-a-bye Baby" is a lullabying blend of original wind melodies and occasional fragments of the familiar Chocobo theme. Unfortunately, the Chocobo mounting music is not present here and joins the ranks of several jingles as being never released on a Final Fantasy XI soundtrack. The fishing mini-game themes are very select tastes but fit their context quite well; "Hook, Line, and Sinker" features jubilant melodies in conjunction with a cheesy jazz accompaniment while "The Big One" is dominated by silly crisis motifs and clumsy repeating piano lines. The wedding ceremony music "Eternal Oath" is a mature organ-based theme that inspires appropriate feelings of warmth and divinity. Mizuta probably won't ever break any musical boundaries with his Final Fantasy XI compositions, but he does do a good job of imitating different styles to create a varied accompaniment to the game.

The cutscene music "Celestial Thunder" creates uncertainty and urgency with careful placement of subtly unsynchronised exotic drum rhythms and detached string motifs. It leads nicely into Chains of Promathia's final battle theme "A Realm of Emptiness". Introduced with a slow string motif that gives a sense of impending doom, the theme erupts at the 0:42 mark with a mixture of furious string melodies, powerful timpani, tribal percussion, supporting chorus, and and dazzling piano cues. This is probably Mizuta's most accomplished action theme to date. For the ending theme "Distant Worlds", Nobuo Uematsu returned to craft a ballad arranged by Naoshi Mizuta and sung by opera singer Izumi Masuda. This theme combines expressive interpretations of the "Recollection" theme and a newly composed with beautifully balanced instrumentals and a "Suteki da ne" style violin solo. There is also a near-identical rendition of the theme that replaces the vocals with an excellent acoustic guitar solo for those who cannot tolerate Masuda's terrible English pronunciation.

A special addition is the festival theme "Sunbreeze Shuffle". This merry Eastern-flavoured jig is intended to inspire one to dance, but is also suitably restrained to sustain quite long playtimes. Another seasonal theme is the Christmas remix of "The Grand Duchy of Jeuno", "Jeuno -Starlight Celebration-". The combination of cheesy festive and light jazz features certainly won't win awards for musical ingenuity, though it is pleasing that the game designers went to the effort of adding some festive novelty. "Ru'Lude Gardens -Star Onions Version-" is a new recording by The Star Onions specifically created for the box set. The melodies of the sedate string quartet original are barely recognisable in this upbeat synth-pop remix. Though some passages were unbearably camp, there is a surprising amount of intricacy and dynamism in this remix, especially in the piano lines. It's another love-hate affair, but nevertheless another welcome bonus to the set.


This disc will be a very enjoyable listen for Final Fantasy XI music enthusiasts. It was created to be an enjoyable collection on a stand-alone basis rather than a compilation of trivial themes. This means that, while there are a few mainly unimportant omissions, there are plenty of interesting items and even a bonus arrangement. The music for the mini-game and seasonal themes is superficial and cheesy, but this is forgivable given their quirky contexts. The album compensates with deeper themes such as the "Memoro de la S^tono" arrangements, "A Road Once Traveled", and "Hidden Truths". Definitely the most welcome additios to the set are the final themes for the Chains of Promathia extension. "A Realm of Emptiness" and "Distant Worlds" are undoubtedly some of the finest achievements in the franchise and their inclusion here at last compensates for their tragic omission from the Chains of Promathia soundtrack. Overall, a fine addition to Final Fantasy XI's discography and a welcome bonus on the box set.

Overall Score: 7/10