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Imagine my sur­prise, fans and friends alike, to wake up Tuesday morn­ing, my cof­fee fresh and my mind grog­gy, ex­pect­ing to write this re­view in con­tin­u­a­tion of my Final Fantasy se­ries, only to be ab­solute­ly bom­bard­ed with emails about the an­nounce­ment of a Final Fantasy 7 re­make. Some may say it’s co­in­ci­dence, some may say di­vine prov­i­dence, but I’m a lit­tle bit more op­ti­mistic, and I would like to say that it’s des­tiny, so, while you’re wait­ing for that tiny ounce of per­fect to be re­lease, let me en­chant you with the sights and sounds of Final Fantasy 7: Voices of the Lifestream.

Final Fantasy: Voices of The Lifestream is a com­bined to­tal of 45 tracks, span­ning the length of four discs! There’s nev­er a dull mo­ment with our boys over at OC ReMix, they pro­duce so much con­tent It’s ab­solute­ly awe in­spir­ing. Project di­rec­tor Andrew Aversa (Better known as Zircon), had this to say about this over­whelm­ing col­lec­tion of mu­si­cal splen­dor:

There is no ques­tion that Voices has been a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing, far be­yond what I could have ever imag­ined. I had an­tic­i­pat­ed six months – at most – and a mere 20 or 30 mix­es. I could not have ex­pect­ed the mo­ti­va­tion and en­thu­si­asm of all the remix­ers who had ac­cept­ed my in­vi­ta­tion, nor could I have ex­pect­ed the count­less peo­ple ask­ing me to come on board to help com­plete tracks that no one else had tak­en. I ad­mit that at first, I was un­sure of tak­ing on some remix­ers who I had nev­er heard of and who had not even been post­ed on OCR yet. But as it turns out, these in­di­vid­u­als have been vi­tal to the project and pro­duced some fan­tas­tic arrange­ments. “ – http://ff7.ocremix.org/about/

I could not have said it bet­ter my­self, Andrew. To quote one of my fa­vorite mu­si­cians of all time, “You took the words right out of my mouth.”

Before we start this, I’d like to say thank you to my read­ers. I don’t know if you know this, but writ­ing and talk­ing to you guys and gals, and get­ting to do this as a job, has been a bless­ing that, I can­not stress enough, is the light of my life. I val­ue each and every­one one of you, along with my col­leagues, with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion that makes get­ting out of bed some­thing I look for­ward to.

For those who read fur­ther, this one’s for you.

Disc 1

We start the whole she­bang off ap­pro­pri­ate with a bar­rage of beau­ti­ful vo­cals from the love­ly Jillian Aversa in the first track, “Deliverance of the Heart (Heart of Anxiety).” She does a wicked job here, mesh­ing with the calm­ing, elec­tron­ic tone of the track very nice­ly, very rem­i­nis­cent of the tal­ent­ed Anneke Van Giersbergen. Again, we have a nice bit of work with “Every Story Begins with a Name (Opening – Bombing Mission),” the artists ab­solute­ly nail­ing the Opening Theme, only to come up short on the sec­ond part, Bombing Mission. Here’s the deal, kids; Music is re­al­ly fick­le, some­times it’s hit and miss, but one of the most cru­cial things you must nev­er mess up is the pac­ing of the orig­i­nal track. The idea here with Bombing Mission is in­ter­est­ing, but the lead parts are mud­dled un­der the over­ly com­pli­cat­ed drum track. Everything sounds meshed up and not en­tire­ly all there. Another ex­am­ple of this is “(No Such Thing As the Promised Land (Mako Reactor),” there’s too much go­ing on at once, and if you don’t give your in­di­vid­u­als parts room to breathe when do­ing so, you mud­dy the com­po­si­tion. Still, these tracks were la­bored on ex­ten­sive­ly and you should give these artists the re­spect they de­serve. We con­tin­ue on with “Full Frontal Assault (Let the Battles Begin!),” and I praise the com­po­si­tion and in par­tic­u­lar, I love the keys in this very heavy ren­di­tion of the Battle theme, how­ev­er, as al­ways, I have a par­tic­u­lar crit­i­cism in re­gards to the rhythm sec­tion of gui­tars. The lead parts are fine, the drum sec­tions also, but the gui­tars that sit in the back­ground feel like they have too much gain and they’re be­ing pushed out of a lit­tle beat­er am­pli­fi­er. Speaking of fan­tas­tic key­board work (Or sam­ple work with a key­board), we have “Nomura Limit (Fight On!),” a very in­ter­est­ing take on the orig­i­nal, but the key­board work is re­al­ly good, I cer­tain­ly sug­gest giv­ing this a lis­ten if you’re par­tial to The Black Mages.

Do you re­mem­ber how I said that some­times when you don’t give the in­di­vid­ual parts room to breathe in a com­po­si­tion, things be­come mud­dled? Here’s a good ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when you do a track like that right. “Son of Chaos (Shinra, Inc)” is a very good ex­am­ple of that. Nothing is mud­dled, and I quite hap­pen to like it con­sid­er­ing it’s an elec­tron­ic track. Kudos to the artist, Xaleph, for bang­ing this one out with style. I know of an­oth­er artist who bangs out his tracks with style very well, our man Sixto Sounds and his track “Lunatic Moon (Red XIII’s Theme ~ Cosmo Canyon).” Yet again, we’re con­front­ed to the prob­lem of pac­ing. This track starts out in a hec­tic race to the fin­ish with blaz­ing gui­tars, then slows down into some­thing beau­ti­ful, then does it yet again. I don’t know what the prob­lem here is ex­act­ly, the com­bi­na­tion of themes or the com­bi­na­tion of pac­ing. Sometimes two good things go to­geth­er, but most of the time it doesn’t. You might be think­ing that I don’t like this track, well, you would be wrong, as Sixto Sounds re­al­ly shines in the end­ing. If you’ve come to ex­pect great things, the end­ing is where you will find it.

Let’s move on to Disc 2.

Disc 2

This disc didn’t start off the way I thought it would. “Short Skirts (Tifa’s Theme)” is a great track, in fact I think that in cer­tain mo­ments it’s damn near beau­ti­ful, but it has the same mud­dled feel to it as the oth­er tracks did. Our next track how­ev­er, “Valse Aeris (Flowers Blooming in the Church ~ Aerith’s Theme),” is a beau­ti­ful waltz that com­pared to the orig­i­nal, I thought, would have ma­jor pac­ing prob­lems, as a waltz at this tem­po is a tad bit too quick for the orig­i­nal ver­sion and it’s cue times to match up and sound well with. Instead, they re­vamped the track and blast­ed it with a breeze full of fresh air. Absolutely mes­mer­iz­ing work by our artist Jeremy Robson. Another to men­tion in re­gards to fan­tas­tic work is “A Life Without Parole (Desert Wasteland),” a very fore­bod­ing pi­ano piece filled with tones of sor­row. Something to re­al­ly give a lis­ten. Sixto Sounds is up for round two, along with Suzumebachi and Zircon in their track “Scenes from a Memory (On That Day, Five Years Ago).” They have in­ter­est­ing­ly turned what ini­tial­ly was not a bat­tle theme, into a bloody bat­tle theme! I’m all for it, odd­ly enough the pac­ing here re­al­ly works well. Certainly a lis­ten is need­ed if this sounds like it’s your cup of tea. Another cou­ple of good ex­am­ples in re­gards to stuff that isn’t my cup of tea, and might be yours are “Chasing the Storm (In Search of the Man in Black)” and “Crystal Sermon (The Prelude),” both are great tracks in the elec­tron­ic de­part­ment, though they fall very far be­low on my radar as im­pres­sive, with the ex­cep­tion of the string sec­tions and pi­ano sec­tions in Crystal Sermon, they are very im­pres­sive. Moving on!

Disc 3

As we roll on through into this disc, we have a very nice ren­di­tion of Costa del Sol in “Suco de Melancia (Costa del Sol).” It’s very charm­ing and very pleas­ant on the ears, with a good bit of key­board work rem­i­nis­cent of The Doors. What re­al­ly shines to me is “Stone Eyes (The Great Warrior),” a ex­cel­lent pi­ano piece that gives off a feel­ing of both beau­ty and sor­row all at once, yet still be­ing so ridicu­lous­ly com­plex in places. “Daydreaming Again (Words Drowned by Fireworks)” does this as well, with a very love­ly and im­pres­sive duet of acoustic gui­tar work. Oddly enough, this is all that stands out to me on this disc, and that seems to be the com­mon theme with this col­lec­tion. I’m sad­ly unim­pressed by abun­dance of Electronic tracks that pace ei­ther very weird­ly, or at best de­cent­ly, ex­cept for “Alien Exploration (Gold Saucer ~ Cid’s Theme),” which is very charm­ing and very, very well done. Now, I know, I know, there are more tracks to this disc and to some, yes, they would be good tracks, but they don’t stick out as re­al­ly good tracks and so I am go­ing to, as al­ways, skip over those and high­light only the cream of the crop or the worst of the worst in my opin­ion, al­right? Don’t get so flus­tered, it does not mean those tracks are at all un­wor­thy in­her­ent­ly; I just don’t think they’re par­tic­u­lar­ly fan­tas­tic. Last disc, gents and gals!

Disc 4

You know, artist Pot Hocket re­al­ly has im­pressed me, and only in two songs no doubt. That’s a quite a feat, and so is his track “Sleep, My Sephy (Judgment Day),” an­oth­er beau­ti­ful acoustic gui­tar duet. Speaking of gui­tar, holy crap, Omnislash (Hurry Up!) blows it out of the wa­ter! If you’re par­tial to pro­gres­sive met­al tracks, this one is for you. I’d be sur­prised if they didn’t use this for the Final Fantasy 7 re­make as part of it’s OST, that’s how much stock I put in this. “Jenova Returns (J‐E‐N‐O‐V‐A ~ Jenova Complete)” and “Black Wing Metamorphosis (One‐Winged Angel)” are also both pac­ing scores that I’m sur­prised wouldn’t be a part of the re­make ei­ther, as both have the charm of a Tim Burton score, and the sense of won­der we come to find in Pixar flicks. Good job, you two, I am thor­ough­ly im­pressed! And, at last, we end on a bit of a sad note, but a beau­ti­ful one at that, with the pi­ano piece “The Golden Ivories of Gaia (Medley).” It’s fun­ny, you come to me to tell you what the lay of the land is, in a man­ner of speak­ing, but some­times I’m a lit­tle speech­less. This one, ladies and gen­tle­men, you’ll have to en­joy and lis­ten to all on your own to re­al­ly un­der­stand.

And there we have it, in the end there were some tracks that re­al­ly stood out as some­thing spe­cial, but sad­ly there were a lot of tracks that I just could not ap­pre­ci­ate. Now, I wouldn’t avoid this al­bum, heav­ens no, I en­cour­age you to get it for free on Oc ReMix right now. It’s a free al­bum for cry­ing out loud, and one of sur­pris­ing­ly high qual­i­ty and a lot of tal­ent, but most of it isn’t my thing. If elec­tron­ic stuff is your cup of tea, then you’ll be de­light­ful­ly en­chant­ed, but if it’s not, you’re go­ing to feel like it’s got a lot of filler and just some killer

We’re not done yet! Next Friday I will be here as usu­al, and “Trigger Warning”: We’ll con­tin­ue this train of Squaresoft in­san­i­ty with an­oth­er fan­tas­tic al­bum.

You know the drill, cue the fan­fare!

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The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent be­low.
Christopher King
I yell at stu­pid peo­ple on the YouTube. Enjoy my pain, be­cause some­body has to.
Christopher King

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