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OCRA-0040 - Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin

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I'm blown away, just incredible. Worth my KickStarter donation tenfold. OCR continues to take VGM music to the next level. Hats off to everyone involved! This album is everything I hoped for and much, much more. :nicework:

More in depth comments after I finish listening!

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I'm presently on disc 3 and I am in awe of how far OCR has come since I first learned of the site, something I feel like I've said for previous album releases as well. Thank you all so much for your contributions and effort. I've been spreading the word and am considering the possibility of typing up a review for a Final Fantasy-themed site I frequent the forums of. Time, work, and real-life stuff will determine the likelihood of that happening, but I hope to manage something. At any rate, I'm looking forward to finishing up my initial listen sometime tomorrow.

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Okay, without looking at this thread (or anything beyond track names after the fact), I will be presenting my initial impressions of Discs 2 - 4 with more detailed reviews of my favorite pieces. I'm skipping Disc 1 because I've listened to those tracks far too many times to present initial opinions (and I didn't think of doing this until recently). I'll totally be reviewing a few of those tracks in detail though.

Disc 2

Wild Child Ballad – Darangen’s Solitary Sorrows has kind of ruined Gau’s Theme, in that I can’t hear it without thinking of his lyrics. The little string-and-woodwind recurring bit does sort of help this piece stand out on its own though.

river of sine waves – Okay this NES-chip percussion reminds me of something but I can’t quite place it. Combined with easy-listening piano and plucked guitar this is very pleasant and laid back, not quite what I expected from the Serpent Trench. I particularly like when the Prelude arpeggios come in at the end.

Idle City Street – Okay this has to be a Pot Hocket piece. Very nice. Totally going with Daydreaming Again and Sleep My Sephy on my “Peaceful Sunday Afternoon” playlist.

Courage, Failure, Rosebud – Gonna have to look up those lyrics later, I can’t quite make them out here. Really I’m not sure I have much to say about this yet (other than that I dig the overlapping vocals at the end).

Bad Octopus – This sounds like the Transiberian Orchestra… If they hired on Danny Elfman to compose for them… Very fitting piece for saving Espers and beating up Ultros though. Great ending.

Train Suplex – Feels a bit too slow. I guess I’m spoiled by all the metal covers out there. Honestly there are enough excellent straight covers of this piece in my library I was hoping this would be a bit looser with the theme. Still hard to go wrong with one of the best boss themes of all time.

There Will Be Blood – Not for me. Too (I don’t know this genre well enough so this might be entirely the wrong term, but) industrial? I dunno. It’s not bad, just not my jam. Then again, Metamorphosis is far from my favorite Terra track, anyway. Honestly the genre is a pretty good fit for the track, thematically.

Terra’s Resolve – This is more like it. Not that there was any chance of this track being anything less than perfect. What it really needs is something to set it apart from the (not kidding) thirty existing Terra track’s I’ve got. This is already a better (ie-less conservative) orchestration than the Distant Worlds version, so that puts it in the Terra in Black/Deadly Promises/Death on the Snowfield range right off the bat. This one definitely merits a more detailed review later.

A Simple Flip Can Change Fate – Oh man, acoustic guitar duet, what a perfect choice for Coin Song. I’ve always really loved Stevo’s acoustic work (okay I cheated and looked this one up because the guitar seemed familiar and I couldn’t place it—turns out I was thinking of Gliding on a Silver Lining). I think this going on my playlist with Idle City Streets, but I’m also putting it in my standby playlist for D&D games for a scene that really needs some extra emotional resonance.

Electro de Chocobo – Hmm, Techno de Chocobo opens with piano. How great would it be for this of all songs to be a nice traditional-sounding piece? Really mess with some pre-conceived notions and get a few weirdos all indignant. …oh well, can’t really complain, even if it’s the obvious choice it’s still good. Not gonna beat Kweh! though. That’s still my gold standard for Chocobo mixes. Hey, how about a pure Chocobo album, guys? That’s got to be at least as versatile as Sagat’s theme right? If OCR’s not up to it, I’m sure the Bad Guys could handle it…

Reverie of the Broken Phoenix – I wasn’t really feeling the intro to this but then at 1:20, the strings came in, and it clicked. Then the percussion came in and it really clicked. I really like how this track just keeps steadily building until the end when it drops back to the almost ethereal tone of the intro.

Slam Shuffle – There’s shuffling. And slamming. What more could you ask for? I guess film-noir-esque horns and echo-y piano. Can’t say I dig the super-electronic-sounding bass, the heaviness of it really drags the track down in my opinion, especially when compared to the first 80 seconds or so.

Fiddlesticks Rag – Sounds like something that would be playing in a saloon. Perfect.

The Nightmare Oath – For some reason the orchestrations of the opera, this movement in particular, always felt a little awkward to me. Like something just felt off about hearing the lyrics sung out loud. Especially in such an earnest opera style. This on the other hand, feels right. Bit more of a rock-opera tone than traditional opera which is way more my jam and the vocals really work in this setting. Hell of a great title as well.

The Impresario – Oh man, ten seconds in and it’s already living up to the hype. Props for the Brian May-esque guitar work and the vocal harmonies. Although the voice itself tends to lean more Weird Al than Freddie Mercury sometimes in the harmony, that’s hardly a bad thing. Song feels like it’s trying to be Bohemian Rhapsody a little too much at a couple points, which I feel works against it, but those moments are fleeting and more often than not it nails the inspired-by-but-unique feel it was going for. God, I could go on about how great this is, but I think the write-up on the site says everything that needs to be said (I looked it up afterwards so I could link it to a friend).

Til We Meet Again – Whoa, Gilmour-led Pink Floyd vibes from these first few seconds of guitar. Okay, this is obviously a zircon/pixietricks joint. Wouldn’t sound out of place on Origins. Not sure I can say much about this other than wow. Jill is incredible as always. Feels a bit like a “sequel” or companion piece to Deliverance of the Heart, especially at the end.

Full Speed Ahead – Likewise, this feels like a sequel to Golden Feathers with a bit of Airships Make Me Happy. Sorry, I don’t mean to keep comparing this to Voices of the Lifestream but I can’t help it. I don’t know exactly what zircon’s vision for this album was but the similar guiding influences between the two are noticeable.

Edited by omnipotentBagel

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Funny thing happened as I listened to this....

Space and time itself warped around the speakers to my computer, as it was much too awesome for our universe to contain. I swear I saw a unicorn try to jump through the rip.......

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This is amazing! I'll post some thoughts about a few tracks:

"Now is the Winter" has a nice atmosphere. The arrangement is a bit too long imo but I like the mood it creates.

"Polemos" grabbed me by surprise. It "disappoints" me a bit that it's not a "pure" remix of the battle theme, but I can't complain! 10 minutes of metal goodness!

"La Montaña de los Caballos Jóvenes" is pretty good and I believe it hasn't got much recognition. Well done Novice!

"river of sine waves" is nice. I wonder why everything wasn't capitalized in the title :-P

"There Will be Blood" really surprised me. Metamorphosis is a hard track to remix but the dubstep nailed it perfectly.

All the Opera related tracks are amazing.

"Full Speed Ahead" feels like a Mario Galaxy/Mario Kart track in some sections. I guess the synths do that!

I haven't heard anything past the opera themes yet so I can't comment on that, but I will post more later!

Edited by jnWake

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Disc 3 First Impressions

Flava de Chocobo – I… uh, I’m not really sure what I’m listening to here. Oh, it’s a chocobo song, I guess. Hmm, 70’s club style, I think. This beat feels like the trailer to some Blaxploitation parody. Well it’s certainly well done. I think I need a few more listens to decide whether or not I like it though.

Johnny’s Got that Funk – Well, it’s a far cry removed from late 50’s R&B that’s for sure. Turn of the 60’s teens certainly wouldn’t be ready for this yet. Let’s hope the average OCR listener is. For the record, I’m cool with it. Wouldn’t say I love it, but I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent toward funk.

Gestahlian Sonata - Ahh, wouldn’t be FFVI without some soft, moody Terra. Oh, hello Kefka, always good to hear more. Ah, I see, this must be a Gestahlian piece. I like it. Somewhat disjointed, but in an enjoyable way. The many quick changes between keys and themes is really interesting. I love the way Terra and Kefka weave their way through the theme. This would be an awesome piece to hear performed live, I think.

Megiddo Brigade – Not much to say about this. Devil’s Lab was always one of the less interesting pieces for me. This is definitely drawing me in though, almost subconsiously. Keep catching myself moving with the beat. I bet it'll make for a good track to have on in the background.

There’s Nothing Like Flying – High-register chiptunes, not my favorite way to start to a track. Okay, it’s a lot better once the backing material comes in. Yeah, I can definitely get into this once the melody starts.

Mogstradamus – I have a very tenuous relationship with ukulele music. Fortunately, throwing in a heavy dose of dub-steppy electronics in a good way to spice things up. In fact I kind of wish the ukulele didn’t sort of vanish when the heavy stuff comes in. It would have been nice to hear the two contrasted more. Then again, maybe the artist tried that and it didn’t work.

Aggressive Blue Magic – I see this is where all the dubstep was tucked away. I don’t really know how to critique dubstep. I mostly enjoyed this but it felt a bit long for me.

Pure EssenceI like the stylistic choice for this piece. Relm’s theme is the sort of peaceful, nice music you’d expect for an innocent 10-year-old girl. Thing is, Relm is kind of weird. She has one heck of an attitude, easily befriends a dog (allegedly) known for eating strangers, and, oh yeah, she can bring her paintings to life. This track captures that weird essence of Relm’s character without losing the peaceful, somewhat innocent melody.

IllusionaryNot really sure what to say here. I always felt this track was a little repetitive in the OST and this mix does it’s best to keep things interesting, but I still can’t really get into it.

Black Genesis – A very metal approach to one of the more hardcore tracks in the game. The incorporation of Omen and Fierce Battle in the middle was a good choice as well. Sounds like it would be right at home in Strader’s FFI-III albums.

Meditations on an Apocalypse – Very James Bond-esque opening. I like. Good use of a track that was mostly just a re-play of part of the opening scene. It definitely takes on its own identity here.

Evisceration – Hmm, The Fierce Battle was far from my favorite battle music in the game. This is probably more interesting to me than the original version at least.

A Tranquil Rest – Turning a thirty-second game over jingle into a nearly 2 minute orchestral movement without just stretching it out.

Elegy for a Ruined World – Oh I recognize these samples. This a Derek Oren/Jeremy Robson piece. Hmm, a bit more plodding than I’d like, but still good. Could almost be the prelude to the Cantata for Dancing suite, particularly with the hints of Kefka and bits of Omen sprinkled in. I really like the fade-out too.

Event Horizon – From the first few seconds I thought this was gearing up for some Spanish guitar. Then the square wave came in and it became some sweet electronica instead. Good, but I can’t help but wonder what that Spanish guitar version would have been like.

Blackjack’s Breakup Bossa – I will never not love slightly cheesy mall music. The vocals were a great touch. That is all.

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Anyone else get a Ghost in The Shell "Inner Universe by Origa" vibe from the Smoke and Clouds track on disc 1? Not that I mind cause that's one of my most favorite anime tracks ever, but it had a very similar vibe to me as this remix.

Great job btw to the whole crew!! I'm so glad this album is rockin' it! I can't wait to get my hard copy of FF Remix discs I got from the kickstarter!

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Mogstradamus – I have a very tenuous relationship with ukulele music. Fortunately, throwing in a heavy dose of dub-steppy electronics in a good way to spice things up. In fact I kind of wish the ukulele didn’t sort of vanish when the heavy stuff comes in. It would have been nice to hear the two contrasted more. Then again, maybe the artist tried that and it didn’t work.

It's hard to reply on a phone. D:

Just wanted to say, the ukulele remains throughout, just in terms of chips and dubstep being very strong & solid waveforms, and not wanting to over compress the ukulele and make it a solid brick, that's how it worked out. Definitely less prominent as a result, but still present and hearable if you listen closely. The decision to mix such a tiny instrument with such huge sounds was maybe unwise, but I feel it represents mog well :-)

Thanks for your kind reviews :-)

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Disc 4 impressions

A Glimmer of Hope –Of all the great music from this game, I have particularly high expectations for Searching for Friends. I’m not sure why that is, it’s not even in my top five favorite pieces from the game. And yet, I’m uniquely picky about remixes of this song. That said, this track nails it. That mix of loneliness and hope. The sense of desolation is evident in the piano at the beginning. And then the spirit of exploration shines through and it becomes more encouraging and uplifting, before settling back into a calmer and more reflective mood at the end, which encapsulates the second half of the game pretty well, if you ask me.

Go-Go Gadget Gonkulator – Okay, after binging on Disc 1 for a couple weeks, I’m pretty sure I can recognize an XPRTNovice track when I hear one. Have you ever looked back on something you thought was good and realized, only in retrospect, that something rather serious was lacking the entire time. That’s how I feel about my music collection before this album. Everything this guy does is so much fun!

Katabasis – I don’t have a lot to say about this. Very pretty. Fits the source well.

13th Floor Demonstration – This sidequest is weird and just a touch spooky. This track doesn’t really do much with the spooky aspect, but it definitely captures the “weird”. It’s not an immediate favorite, but it strikes me as one of those pieces that grows on you with time.

The Narshmellow – This a great example of how to adapt a song fairly straightforward without just straight-up covering it. This sort of sounds like a bunch of laid back dudes from the 70’s just sort of hanging out and jamming. And I can dig it.

The Endless Stair – Damn Level 20 Magics. Okay as far as creepy goes, the Fanatics Tower probably takes the cake. A bunch of cultists who wander around and worship the madman who is destroying the world? Yeah, that’s pretty weird. Combine that atmosphere with a long climb filled with very deadly enemies and you have a very memorable sequence that this song captures quite well. It’s fairly subdued for the bulk of the piece, which belies the true creepiness and serves as contrast for the middle section where the bass kicks up and the strings, horns and chorus comes in and it’s kind of awesome.

Trauermarsch – Ah movement IV of Cantata for Dancing. Been waiting for this track nearly three years (really ever since Also Sprach Kefka came out) and it does not disappoint. I’m going to need to listen to this a lot more to be able to critique it properly but on first listen I can say it’s rich and complex as I’ve come to expect from Derek and Jeremy. It’s long but no section ever overstays it’s welcome, and I fully enjoyed the ride.

Demon, Fiend, & Goddess – Here we go, Dancing Mad. This is—the big one. The Black Mages have the definitive version of this so there are some big shoes to fill here. Synth-rock is an interesting. Similar energy and sound to the Black Mages but a distinctly different style. At first the deviations from the original were distracting but once I got over that, it drew me in pretty quick. Love the soap-opera-y organ and Mannheim-Steamroller-y brass. And the final movement of the source track (the adagio section) will never not get to me. It may be my all-time favorite moment in all of VGM. Overall very well done.

Ending Suite – I imagine it’s hard to do a terribly unique take on a track that’s a medley to begin with., but if you’re going to try, having Shnabubula and Gabe Terracciano tackle it is a good move. They have some history of success with this sort of thing. This feels like a fairly straight adaptation at times (until Shnabubula’s fingers start to run wild), but that certainly doesn’t reflect badly on the track nor on the stellar piano and violin work. There’s only so far this sort of musical-style medley can go and the track flows decently from theme-to-theme. It’s not seamless, but it’s not that kind of medley (aka the kind where you don’t realize it’s a medley if you don’t pay attention). This is more of the “remember how awesome all these things were” kind of medley and really, that’s all it needs to be—the character themes of this game speak for themselves. Favorite bits: Shadow’s Theme (because I love Shadow’s theme) and Strago’s theme which turned out just incredibly fun.

Humble Beginnings, Great Expectations – Took me a while to get into this, mostly just because the Prelude is so permanently embedded in my mind that I couldn’t stop comparing it to every other version I’ve heard. But sometime toward the middle I stopped actively listening to the track and just sort of let it happen and then I really got it. It’s kind of hard to explain but I appreciated it a lot more when I stopped trying to analyze it and just allowed myself to experience it more loosely.

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And that's it for me tonight. I thought about doing Disc 5 too, but at this point, I think I'm a little too burned out on new music. Not sure I'd survive SnappleMan and norg's 40 minute epic. I'm definitely looking forward to tackling that later this week though.

Overall album impressions--this is probably the best album OCR has ever put out. I'm not sure anything on it can top Fading Entity (although the opera pieces just might--I need more listens to be sure) but there were maybe two tracks I didn't enjoy (due to style preferences, not quality of arrangement). Out of 70 tracks, that's amazing. I'll have to give it about a month of regular listens to see what really stands the test of time, but there's no question this will be another Voices of the Lifestream or Serious Monkey Business for me. Really incredible work--everyone who was involved with this should be very proud.

Brandon, thanks for responding. I'll definitely listen for the ukelele more closely on my next play. I agree, the track fits Mog very well.

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Anyone else get a Ghost in The Shell "Inner Universe by Origa" vibe from the Smoke and Clouds track on disc 1? Not that I mind cause that's one of my most favorite anime tracks ever, but it had a very similar vibe to me as this remix.

Great job btw to the whole crew!! I'm so glad this album is rockin' it! I can't wait to get my hard copy of FF Remix discs I got from the kickstarter!

I agree on both counts - (a) Inner Universe is amazing, and (B) I think there was some serious Yoko Kanno influence in Locke. It's one of my absolute favorites from the project. Jeff & Laura absolutely nailed it :) Thanks for listening!

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I'm really loving the ELP influence in Demon, Fiend & Goddess. That and the Queen-style rock opera in The Impresario and the Morricone-style spaghetti western influence in A Fistful of Nickels make me think if Uematsu ever hears this he's going to be like "Yeah, that's what I was going for all along." It's crazy how he had this all figured out 20 years ago back when many of us were in grade school. That to me is true genius.

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Wow. Just wow. I was expecting good stuff from this album, but it's far exceeding my expectations. I'm loving all of it, even the stuff that I normally wouldn't stylistically care for. You guys have even produced the first Chocobo Theme arrangement that I actually enjoy listening to. That song has always annoyed the crap out of me.

This is really incredible stuff. FF6 is such a precious memory to me, and it's done justice here. I could go gushing on and on, but I think you get the idea. I'm only at the end of Disc 3, btw. I have to keep taking breaks to fully absorb the incredible stuff I'm hearing, and to keep myself from getting too emotional because I'm at work :P

Congratulations to everyone that worked on this. It's a crowning achievement for this organization. I'll probably be back when I'm finished listening to it all for another round of gushing.

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This release makes me feel nostalgic, like the olden days of releases like chrono symphonic, voices of the lifestream, ff4, etc....mmmmm.....

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All I can say is, TREMENDOUS work. I eagerly anticipate my physical copy, and while certain tracks are needing to grow on me, this is a glorious effort. Each and every one of you have my undying kudos, love, and gratitude. I'm so glad to have been able to contribute.

Savage Triumph is totally "Pendulum does FF6" and I mean that as high praise. Also "The Impresario" blew my freaking gourd. Bohemian Rhapsody-esque, and positively amazing. I hope to have more detailed thoughts later, since I think the artists deserve it.

<3 SF

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I tried listening to Balance and Ruin twice, but it's terrible in its entirety. There's not a single good remix in the whole thing, and I feel like I have to shred my whole hard drive after this atrocity touched it. Would it be too much to ask for a do-over?

Wait, nevermind...I must be thinking of Unbalanced and Ruined. :wink: (...which was actually pretty enjoyable btw.)

Really though, I was still downloading Balance and Ruin when I went to bed last night, and I'm finally up and ready to listen straight through on repeat all day. I'm just about to start, and I just hope I can hear each piece over my screaming anticipation for The Impresario, among other things. I've looked forward to this album project since before it was ever officially conceived, and finally it's here...thank you guys SO much! :nicework:

Edited by Mini-Me

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This album is beyond amazing. You guys really put a lot of time into picking the right genres, and it shows. The mixing and arrangement is professionally done and I've had so much hype waiting for this album. Kudos, seriously. :]

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Savage Triumph is totally "Pendulum does FF6" and I mean that as high praise.

Huzzah, mission accomplished! Pendulum is a huge influence on my music, and I know Justin (Nutritious) takes a lot of inspiration from them as well. Not sure where OA's main inspiration was at for this song, but all his extra percussion, filler synths, orchestral stuff, and of course DAT GUITAR made Savage Triumph a song that we're all super proud to have created. :-D

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Huzzah, mission accomplished! Pendulum is a huge influence on my music, and I know Justin (Nutritious) takes a lot of inspiration from them as well. Not sure where OA's main inspiration was at for this song, but all his extra percussion, filler synths, orchestral stuff, and of course DAT GUITAR made Savage Triumph a song that we're all super proud to have created. :-D

I just played off of what you guys were doing, and tried to make it amped up even more. I love how it turned out.

FUN FACT: I don't have a 2 octave fretboard, so the very last note in the solo is played with my neck pickup as the fret. You can hear it squeak a little bit before hitting the note, as I try to get the right pitch. XD

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ok, I finally just finished Disc 2...wow...that entire Opera sequence from "The Nightmare Oath (Overture) through Till We Meet Again (Aria de Messo Carattere) was just fantastic! If there was any one spot of the soundtrack I was more unsure of with this album being made it was that part and you all did a fantastic job! "The Impressario" coming out as my favorite of the three tracks (definitely the Queen influence as many have stated). Still coming down off the nostalgia high!

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I just played off of what you guys were doing, and tried to make it amped up even more. I love how it turned out.

FUN FACT: I don't have a 2 octave fretboard, so the very last note in the solo is played with my neck pickup as the fret. You can hear it squeak a little bit before hitting the note, as I try to get the right pitch. XD

lol don't you have a slide or something?

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IT'S FINALLY HERE, AMMYGAD.

I just had a sampling of all of the music. Still working on the bonus disc. All I can say is 'OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD" *dies*

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