Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy X: Original Soundtrack


3.5
great

Review

by Liberi Fatali EMERITUS
September 30th, 2006 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: O Muses, o high genius, aid me now! O memory that noted what I saw, Now shall your true nobility be seen!

Asked to write an essay on the themes in a movie, one would no doubt have movies and ideas springing to mind. The most powerful movies are often those which portray key ideas with insight and vitality. To be asked to write an essay on the themes in a game however would be immensely challenging. It is rare that games, even the best of games, ever delve into social issues surrounding society. More often than not, their aim is instant entertainment of the senses rather than thought-provoking messages regarding society.

It would be hard to argue that the Final Fantasy series does not aim to satisfy gamers with mind-blowing visuals, captivating characters and inspiring tales. Yet underneath each game in the series lies a wealth of thoroughly developed messages ranging from redemption, family, destiny and a myriad of other ideas pertinent in modern society. It may not have been the greatest Final Fantasy game ever, yet the 10th instalment in the main series dealt with an array of intricate ideas, showing confrontation between the old and the new, religion and science, purity and corruption.

If one were to give credit to the series’ music composer Nobuo Uematsu for anything, it would have to be that his music always reflected the games themselves. With Final Fantasy X, Uematsu certainly managed to accomplish this again. At the centre of game’s world, Spira, is the religion of Yevon. In the game, we see the tale of a young man from a time very detached from religious ideals. In the music we see this man's youthful vigour contrasted with a world far more docile and serene; at least on the surface that is.

Otherworld, aside from highlighting Uematsu’s flexibility, brings an aspect of the modern world to the soundtrack. The heavily distorted guitars grind against grungy vocals with fury. Other songs such as Confrontation and Crisis continue on the use of modern instrumentation, focusing more upon distorted guitars and strong drumming than Uematsu’s typically inspiring piano and string melodies. It may confuse those with no knowledge of the game to find such contrasts in the album between delicate and harsh, modern and old. But those who have played the game will appreciate how closely the music matches the entities within the world of Spira.

Like the strong religious undertones within the game, the soundtrack has a number of beautiful church hymns composed by Uematsu. Numerous versions of the Song of Prayer are found in the soundtrack, sung in different octaves ranging from bass to soprano. The lyrics, although sung not sung in English, when translated they show the serene hymn’s message:
Pray, saviour
Dream, Child of prayer
Forever and ever
Bring us peace

Uematsu is at his best when composing soft tranquil melodies such as Song of Prayer. On every Final Fantasy soundtrack, there always seems to be one gentle piece that removes all fear, hate and negative emotion. In Final Fantasy X, People of the North-Pole acts as that astoundingly beautiful piece. The slow strings embody sadness in every slow movement, with the off-beat drumming driving the song along slowly through the snow of the Northern Mountains. At its peak, the song reaches climaxes of emotion that are almost unparalleled. Path of Repentance likewise paves its way into the hearts of listeners, brining sadness to the listener through its steady flowing piano. Uematsu clearly excels at simple melodies such as these, and songs like Spiran Scenery, Guadosalam, Macalania Forest and Wandering Flame all display Uematsu creating such emotion with only minimal movement. Within the game, these songs provide moments of peace amongst all the chaos and corruption. For listeners with no experience with the game, they provide similar moments in the real world. In a world that at times can be overbearing, Uematsu’s little moments of peace and acceptance bring an experience not often found in modern music.

But as previously mentioned, these peaceful melodies are but a moment. Conflict and chaos is at the heart of the game, with the religion of Yevon destroying the Spirian world through its corrupted nucleus. In the main party's pilgrimage to Zanarkand, their battles are embodied by the battle themes of the game. Songs such as Assault, Challenge, Seymour Battle and Decisive Battle thrust the soundtrack into action, their strong beats and high energy unrelenting. As epic as they are, these battle tunes do not offer much for those who have not played the game. Rather, Uematsu’s more accessible portrayal of this conflicting evil comes through slower pieces such as Tragedy, Time of Judgement, The Wedding and the spine-tingling Deceased Laugh. The rattling drums in Time of Judgement give a sense of urgency, as the clock-like chimes go back and forth with the hurried string section. A strong horn section starts rapidly firing, before cutting out to long tense strings that seem to hold on to each note forever. The tension created in Time of Judgement serves as one of many examples of Uematsu’s masterful sculpting of emotion and suspense.

As always, the 10th instalment of the Final Fantasy main series brings with it a wealth of musical genius from Nobuo Uematsu. His work on this soundtrack may not stand up with some of his other efforts, yet in capturing the essence of the game he has once again succeeded impeccably. The heavy religious undertones in the game shine through in Uematsu’s music, with beautiful hymn’s touching the hearts of listeners and gamers alike. In the characters perseverance through conflict and corruption, we see them come across few seldom moments to reflect and be at peace. It is in these moments that we see Uematsu’s delicate creations come to life, with an almost unparalleled minimalist beauty. As a soundtrack of contrasts, we see matchless beauty opposed by corruptive evil. It is through this contrast that Uematsu gives life to the game, and to its powerful and thought-provoking themes.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
September 30th 2006


4826 Comments


Incredible work, they could make you a staff reviewer simply based on something of this magnitude. You described an entire game as well as 90 something odd tracks in a few freaking paragraphs, epic review.



AlienEater
September 30th 2006


716 Comments


Awesome review. I've never thought of buying the FF soundtracks, but I love the games, so maybe I will.

Neoteric
September 30th 2006


3243 Comments


Liberi, I truly do love your reviews.

ilu

Zebra
Moderator
September 30th 2006


2647 Comments


I've never really gotten into Final Fantasy even when I used to play video games like crazy so I've never been compelled to check out the soundtracks. Sweet review.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 30th 2006


2806 Comments


This is what I wish I could write.

Roscoe
September 30th 2006


29 Comments


Wow. Absolutely amazing review. I've always wanted to hear a Final Fantasy soundtrack, because most everyone raves about at least parts of them.

Acey
September 30th 2006


2578 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i love the music to this soundtrack. it is about time somebody reviewed it. good game as well. "Otherworld" is the song that is played in the first cutscene. it has some great guitar work in it

Acey
September 30th 2006


2578 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i can agree with you on that completely. very well said.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 3rd 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review. I've never thought of buying the FF soundtracks, but I love the games, so maybe I will.



As alluded to by Iluvatar, don't buy this one. This soundtrack certainly is better in game, and I think the real standout, People of the North Pole can be inspirational away from the game, but it just can't compare with standing on the snowy path before the battle with Seymour with the music playing.



Get the VIII soundtrack, its best away from the game. (and in game :p). Then the next best out of game is IX, then VII, then X, then XII, then VI and earlier.

Volunteer
October 4th 2006


102 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm with everyone else. This review was smart. Excellent work.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The soundtrack for XII is out? I have to get it asap.



It's been out for ages.



Be wary, Nobuo Uematsu didn't compose it and it certainly isn't up to Nobuo's standards.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 5th 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've heard that some of his (Hitoshi Sakimoto) past video gaming soundtracks have been ace, but his soundtrack for XII just totally lacks feeling. I haven't played the game, but already I feel like it doesn't capture any spirit. It's epic, it's grandiose, but it lacks a sense of spirit that Uematsu never failed to capture. It's like he just copied a Star Wars soundtrack and expected it to work in the game.

Jim
October 16th 2006


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review.

I wasn't really blown away by X's soundtrack. Some was good - Macalania Forest was a pearler if I recall - but IX is still my personal favourite.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 16th 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you liked Macalania Forest, I can see why you'd love IX.



I love Macalania Forest, but the droning strings just feel a tad too loud for me.

Adam Jones is GOD
October 16th 2006


113 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Still enough magic in this to bring about some memory serving listens, but its certinally not his best work. Though the version of Otherworld here is still way better than The Black Mages reworking.



Since this, apart from some odd highlights in FF11, Nobuo's been off the pace recently. Im hoping the Blue Dragon soundtrack will be a return to form

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
October 16th 2006


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well the future of Final Fantasy music seems to be in safe hands with Masashi Hamauzu, who is composing the music for XIII (and I presume XIII Versus as well).

MBS
October 22nd 2006


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

but it just can't compare with standing on the snowy path before the battle with Seymour with the music playing.




Oh man, that was really cool. The music there was phenomenal, and I remember all the times that Seymour killed my party while the song mournfully played out it's notes. I'm suprised you didn't mention To Zanarkand in your review.

MBS
October 22nd 2006


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Spiran Scenery is an excellent melody as well.

Metalplayer2020
October 23rd 2006


58 Comments


i loved this game. the only other FF game i played was IX, and that got me in the series. i haven't played video games for ages though, since i picked up the guitar.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
April 14th 2007


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've revised the review, fixing up some awkward sentences, clarifying some points and giving it a general tune up.



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