Saturday, 19 May 2012

Lost in the Music: Unsung Heroes

You are amongst a group of warriors whose friendship has been forged in the fires of battle. You are travelling around the lands in search of dungeons to plunder and dragon's to slay. Amongst your friends is a short, but incredibly cranky monk, a world weary ranger, a paranoid rogue, a couple of spell casters, the all to quiet swordmage and finally a cleric who is the bastion of sanity. While the adventuring aspect is nice, nothing beats sitting back in a small town bar with a mug of ale.

 Adventuring is the life that you have chosen. You seek to travel the world, meet new people and find fabulous treasures. But save for a few times, it is truly a thankless job. You have joined the ranks of the Unsung Heroes.

Unsung Heroes is the 32nd Album from OCRemiX and to be honest, when I got it I was a bit sceptical going into the album. In my searches I had found little to none remixes of the songs listed in the album. Hell they even included a track from the abysmal Lord of the Rings SNES game. However, after listening to it several times over, I was wrong and my fears were unneeded. This album is a fantastic treat. Hell it can be argued that the title has a secondary meaning. Instead of going for the Link's the Mario's or the Cloud's, you are going for the one who is not well known. So let's delve in and journey with the Unsung Hero

5) Stockholm ~ Avaris

Bahamut's Lagoon is one of those games by SquareSoft that nobody talks about. Not that it is a bad game, far from it. It is just overshadowed by it's Final Fantasy brethren. Another reason is that, unless you were playing the game off Emulation, it was never truly released out side Japan until it's release on the Wii's Virtual Console. As I have stated before, this blog is not a forum for discussion about the legality of roms so please leave it out of the comments.

I find that Stockholm is a unique contrast to Hymn of the Eternal Empire. Where that track is more warm and accepting and giving a semblance of familiarity, Stockholm is cold, distant and mystical. It is awe inspiring in it's own right, but doesn't give the same feel of warmth and acceptance that Hymn of the Eternal Empire gives. Still, it is a great song.

4) Shimmering ~ OA

This song is full of happy. I realize the silliness of that statement, but that is how I feel about this song. While I have never personally played any of the SaGa games, unless you count the Final Fantasy Legend games for the original Gameboy, I have always enjoyed the music whenever I came across it.

What can I say about OceanAndrew's (get used to the name, he has his hand in almost everything on this album) version of Rosenkranz. Well for starters, the song seems much more upbeat then the original. While I have not played SaGa Frontier 2 (come on S-E put it on the PSN already), I have heard the original version and it seems to be much more sombre. The new version makes me feel happy, hopeful to the future. To stand tall and kick my self doubt to the curb. It is a solid arrangement and it makes me want to play the game.

3) One Ring ~ Brandon Strader

When I was a young lad of 10, my family and I were camping and I was in the middle of reading a little known fantasy epic called Lord of the Rings. I remember my father saying to me that he would give me 5 bucks if I finished the first book. So during that fateful summer, I delved into the world of Middle Earth. Of course afterwards I tried to get my hands on all forms of Lord of the Rings media. From the Ralph Bakshi movies, which have (thankfully) eluded my grasp, to the abysmal SNES game.

It has been about 15 years since I last attempted the game so I cannot recall how the music was, however Bradon Strader's rendition of The Shire theme makes this feel like I am actually in Hobbiton. This simple string and percussion instruments is what sells this piece. Even when it ramps up to be more bombastic, the song keeps it simple. Like Heroes Unsung, I would totally expect this song to be played in a tavern setting. Quite fitting given the devil may care lifestyle the Hobbits seem to enjoy.

2) Hymn of the Eternal Empire ~ Abadoss, Brandon Strader, Rexy, Nutritious

 Ahh Suikoden. One of the games that was a result of the jRPG boom on the Ps1. I have always found the music of Suikoden decent for a jRPG but never found myself invested in the tracks. The composing team did do a good job, but at the time, I was too enthralled by the sirens call of Uematsu's work to care about any other series. Again I was only a kid at the time and like a fine wine, my taste in music has matured and I find myself wondering why I ignored such a great soundtrack. But I digress.

Hymn of the Eternal Empire is a solid song on the album coming in at number 2. Utilizing a pipe organ, horns, and a choir, the song invokes a feeling of grandness. It doesn't matter if you are atheist, agnostic or religion, this song is incredibly awe inspiring. In spite of of it's grandness, you would think that it would also invoke a feeling of coldness. That you are nothing. It doesn't do this. The song makes you feel warm and loved. As if being embraced by a loved one. An incredibly gorgeous song and a fantastic way to end the album.

1) Heroes Unsung ~ DragonAvenger, OA

The title track for the album comes in at number one and is the first of three lyrical work on the album, unless you count Hymn of the Eternal Empire choir like singing as lyrics. I absolutely love the idea behind this song. As DragonAvenger put it over at OCRemiX...

"The 7th Saga was one of those overly difficult games, and I will admit that I never did manage to get far in it myself. I did get to watch my brother play the game, however, and really found the music to have some wonderful and emotive themes. When approaching the music for Unsung Heroes, I imagined a bard and her band in a medieval tavern singing to the patrons about stories of old that may have never been heard because they had been lost to time. This became the main focus of the track, and "Heroes Unsung" was worked to match that image. The singer goes on to regale her listeners with tales of yore, enrapturing the audience and helping the tales pass on to future generations." DragonAvenger

 The statement above sort of hits a spot for me because when I play RPG's, be it Video Game, or Tabletop, one thing I love is the back story and lore of the world I am in. To me it helps set mood of the game. The entire ambiance of the song is absolutely perfect. It gives that warm feeling of being in a tavern with your adventurer friends, listening to the tales of yore while hunting for future glory. To be immortalized as a hero yourself.

 The collaboration between DragonAvenger and OceansAndrew is fantastic, complimenting each others strengths. With the former's voice being bolstered by the latter's baritone, it sets the mood nicely. Alot of work went into this track and it shows. The first song on the album most defiantly deserves the first spot on the list.

Unsung Heroes is a fantastic album and I rank it in my top 5 personal favourite video game albums. When I went into this album, I was apprehensive because all the music on here was new to me. I hadn't encountered any of these tracks outside of OCRemiX and for some time, it had not occurred to me to check out the other tracks on the site. If anything, this album has broadened my horizons when it comes to music. If you are interested in the album you can find the article at it's website.

Next week...normally I tell you what's going on but this is a secret. So till next time, I am Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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