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zircon

OCRA-0040 - Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin

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Is there a way to make Omen on Disc 5 have gapless playback in Foobar2000?

Absolutely love the album btw, great job everyone involved. Truly amazing stuff.

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Do we really HAVE to keep acknowledging FF8 existed?

(though honestly the soundtrack was one of the only good parts so a remix project would be welcome regardless of my feelings on the game itself)

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there is also a sweet remix of Balamb Garden on the upcoming Audio Engineering: A Cid Tribute Project...

(also FF8's Cid was cool cause he looked like Robin Williams XD)

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Think it's about time I chipped in - a great week's launch, saw a thrilling ride all the way through :D

I could pick favorites, but the last thing I want to do is to really upset people to the point they get left out (albeit for my utmost favorites, the artists more than likely already know). But I have to say it's one heck of a coherent album that fitted the scope just well from the traditional to the downright quirky, was a pleasure to be involved with the whole thing as well, and is definitely one for the record books thanks to the sweet response all around!

I wanted to have done more to promote it - couldn't do the usual perspective video due to what went down with Square. But I'm still working on something to go onto my Youtube page at least - hopefully it won't be too late by the time it gets up there >_>

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I've finally had a chance to listen to some of this album, and, wow, it's incredible!

Just wanted to say - well done! :-D

I'd like to write some impressions of each track, but I'm terrible at reviewing, as you'd basically see a lot of 'awesome', 'incredible', 'amazing', 'excellent', and 'oh wow!' comments.

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Do we really HAVE to keep acknowledging FF8 existed?

(though honestly the soundtrack was one of the only good parts so a remix project would be welcome regardless of my feelings on the game itself)

I'm not a huge fan of FFX truth be told but To Zanarkand is an amazing piece of music, so I can see your point, but I do generally try to only get OCR mixes to games I have played, apart from the projects, and some of the games that stuck with me both musically and game wise are all FF games so any FF related OCR project is most welcome.

Possibly a Dissidia one too ;)

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I do generally try to only get OCR mixes to games I have played

I do get what you mean, and that was indeed how I made my start looking for stuff on OC Remix - looking for arrangements to source material I recognize. But aside from the obvious Sonic and Final Fantasy related material, I couldn't relate to most of the other games at all at that time, and thought games that defined my youth weren't even touched (hence eventually building up the skillset to try for myself).

But you should've seen the kind of questions I had in my head when I first saw some of the mixes here:

- What's this 'Chrono Trigger' game you guys are heaping praise for? (bear in mind it never came out here before the DS port...)

- I've played a bit of Mega Man X, but what makes the original NES games so special?

- Never played Castlevania, so why's it a big deal for live instrument players?

Oddly, in the latter two cases I went on to play more in those respective series and even had several mixposts for them, but that's beside the point. What OC Remix got me to do was opened my own horizons and understood other people's nostalgia while at the same time exploring territory I personally hadn't tread before.

However it does get disheartening when others won't tread the same ground you've done gaming-wise as a youth, but this appears to be how the world turns. Regardless of genre tackled, if I show what the source means to me then it makes me feel all the more motivated to keep going.

To sum it up, we're all artists at the end of the day and expressing ourselves with our innermost passions. To understand that, exploring outside of your listening comfort zone would definitely help you find some hidden gems. Believe me, it will be worth it :)

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- What's this 'Chrono Trigger' game you guys are heaping praise for? (bear in mind it never came out here before the DS port...)

This I can contend with too, I had only glimpsed at CT before the port via a SNES emulator, and played it a lot more after a few of the mixes on OCR. It's a good way to get into more games of the past.

- I've played a bit of Mega Man X, but what makes the original NES games so special?

I haven't been tempted by this myself before but I am tempted to give him a whirl on the next SSB when it surfaces, even if it means picking up a Wii U to do so.

- Never played Castlevania, so why's it a big deal for live instrument players?

If I'm honest although I do have the project by JM, I can't bring myself to play this series in any way, not sure why think it's just a not being a fan of the perceived genre in my head.

Personally, being one who has not much artistic talent in many forms (although I do dabble in a bit of poetry, including one track inspired by *ahem* Sailor Moon and This OCR remix) I can't always relate to the skills and mindset you all seem to have to tackle these pieces with the skill and insight you all seem to do, but as a listener, I do appricate what you do and fully respect you in doing it.

And as a side note, I have considered playing more based on what I've heard from other projects, like DKC2/3 (as I've never played those), more of the Tales of Series as well as Nights and Xenogears it's just never been easy for me to get hold of them due to either job situ or machine situ in the past I guess.

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Selected comments...

Courage, Failure, Rosebud... man, totally not what I expected, but I love it.

Bad Octopus just makes me smile. It's perfect for an Ultros fight, that's for sure.

Train Suplex was a non-metal take on a great track... i'm mixed. Going to give it a few more listens. Can't pinpoint what is off yet to me. It's good, but something just dosen't jive for me.

Electro De Choco - feels like 80's techno music. Good! First time I've really liked the chocobo theme... Even though the FF7 album mix was pretty fun.

Slam Davis ... dang. Spot on. Sleazy town.

Nightmare Oath: rock on, opera. Rock on.

The Impressario: epic. Freddy Mercury would shed a tear.

Till we meet again: ahhhhhhhhhh. Seriously, this can't get any better.

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I've finally had a chance to listen to some of this album, and, wow, it's incredible!

Just wanted to say - well done! :-D

I'd like to write some impressions of each track, but I'm terrible at reviewing, as you'd basically see a lot of 'awesome', 'incredible', 'amazing', 'excellent', and 'oh wow!' comments.

I wouldn't mind if you used those words to describe my track ;) Besides, my reviews are like that aswell

Anyway, to continiue my review:

Disc 2

Wild Child Ballad (bustatunez): Oh, what a nice and peaceful mix. I like the part around the two minute mark, where it's a bit playful, just like Gau itself. The flute brings a bit of an indian (as in western, not India) vibe, which really accompanies Gau's background. The part where the violin and the accordeon play in harmony is just beautiful. A nice, relaxing start of disc 2, something that I wasn't expecting.

river of sine waves (posu yan): Another track with weird (in this case: none) capitalization. A really different vibe from teh original. It's kind of laid-back, but has something playful in it because of the chiptunes in the background and the piano that also plays around a little. For me, it doesn't completely work. It's not as perfectly laid-back as Mustin's track, but it's also not something I can completely relax from. It's nice to listen to, but more as background music. I like the part from teh two minute mark, whre the piano is a little more active and has some nice playing around.

Idle City Streets (Pot Hocket): Beautiful track, I remember this from the project files. A really emotional and warm guitar arrangement. The changes to the chords really help the simplicity (I mean that in a positive way) of the mix. Simple, yet so very effective although perhaps something diffferent in the bassline or added strings at 2:38 would help the mix even more.

Courage, Failure, Rosebud (DragonAvenger, OA): A style very different from the original, but you guys have kept a kind of militarastic, upressed vibe to the mix which I really like. Very cool take on the source and I like the use of the vocals here, they really blend well with the rest of the instrumentation. In fact, the weakest part (imo) is when they are solo at the end. The Terra cameo was executed well I think, because it fitted well in the main line. Also props for keeping this interesting all the way which such a simple source. Not one of my favorites, but like I said before: I can really appreciate it when ReMixers try something different than what's expected when hearing a certain source.

Bad Octopus (Fishy feat. XPRTNovice): I remember this track as a WIP, although I thought it was done at the time. I didn't include XPRTNovice addition, and I have to say: it really helps the mix further. I really thought it was missing something before, but the clarinet really helps the (otherwise a blit bland) dynamic range. The song is good and wacky, and still rocking. Perfect for an Ultros fight theme. Nice track all in all.

Train Suplex (Danny Baranowsky): I was really curious how the "Decisive Battle" would be covered. I'm a HUGE fan of housethegrate's take on the source (and SSH has some rocking stuff aswell) and I'm glad that this (just like "Dancing Mad" but I'll come to that later) has taken a different route than rock. I would've liked a little rawer, more adrenaline-pumping mix though. And I don't like the sound of the lead synth, it's a bit bland. But again, props for taking it in a new direction.

There Will Be Blood (Anti-Syne): A bit too glitchy for my taste at the beginning, and there's too much lack of melody for my taste. I like it when songs go raw and dubstep, but it needs to contain more melodic writing than this for me. So, can't say much about this track, just not my thing.

Terra's Resolve (Chad Seiter): Holy crap, an entire orchestra? Wow... What a grand and epic version of Terra's theme. And really, I can't imgaine this being done without an orchestra, you've made fantastic use of it. I love the many different aspects of the song, from the militaristic and "getting ready for a journey" build-up, to the more epicness at 1:20 and the more peaceful part at 2:12... it really takes you along for a ride. Beautifully done. My minor gripe: don't like the silence parts at 3:30, some strings or brass should've kept a bassline in my opinion. The ending is beautiful with the countermelodies in the flutes .

A Simple Flip Can Change Fate (Level 99): Ah, the mix I view as a "brother" to my mix. Both of them try to capture the emotional bond between the brothers and both have incorporated the Figaro theme. Really beautiful and emotional (although I prefer piano over guitar obviously ;) ), and the build-up is great by adding a new instrument every time a new round sets in. Your vocals always remind me of Lucid Dreaming Stevo, can't help it. And I really love how you did Figaro, the flute is beautiful there along with the background choirs. Very serene, a great song that I have played many times over the past months.

Electro de Choco (Tepid): Hmm I don't really like a few choices made in this remix. The first thing is that it feels way less up-beat and energetic than the original, the second thing is that I don't really like the changes made to the melody/chords. The glitchy dubstep elements also didn't work for me in the context of the rest of the song. I'm just missing the coherent vision of this track (not saying it isn't there, I just don't feel it). Not a fan, sorry.

Reverie of the Broken Phoenix (McVaffe): Very nice ambient stuff at the beginning, it reminds me a lot of the Secret of Mana soundtrack. The piano was a little over-reverbed though. I especially like the song when the beat sets in, it's warmer and more coherent that way. This has that typical chill McVaffe sound to it, I really like this mix. Very tranquil, great job.

Slam Davis (Mazedude): Ah, this track really has that dirty and uneasy Zozo feel to it, I love it. And that live trumpet is just perfect, I'm really glad you got a real trumpet player for this. The breakdown just before the 3 minute mark is also perfect and really helps that uneasy vibe. Perfectly excecuted acid jazz in my opinion, awesome track.

Fiddlesticks Rag (diotrans): The performance on this mix is excellent, but I think you stayed too true to the source. I find the piano a bit too simplistic, the mix misses a "backbone" of some sorts in my opinion. I like the original written parts more than the parts where you cover the source. My favorite part is at the 3 minute marker, where the piano finally does something more and the mix gains some body... too bad that only lasts for a few seconds.

The Nightmare Oath (OA, Moonlapse, BardicKnowledge, Laura Intravia): And so we've come to the Holy Trinity of the album: the opera mixes. First, the excellent take on the Overture in a very cool and powerful rock-opera style. I love the pure emotion and adrenaline this song screams and the vocal are so wonderfully done. The lyrics could've been a little more differentiated (2 times the 4x "Oh Maria" caoul've been a bit altered imo). The part sung as Ralso is also very powerful, beautifully done. The build-up of this mix is also so very well done, it really captures you and takes you away, to the (semi)climax at the 3 minute mark and then the true climax at 3:20. I also like it that you kept the original story of the FF6 opera. I truly wish you would do the Duel in this style as well. Fantastic, perhaps my favorite mix of the album.

The Impresario (virt): Here we have it: perhaps the best remix ever made (which is different from my favorite, as I think I like the Nightmare Oath more). Wow... just wow. Really, perfectly excecuted, what a magnificent piece. You created your own story and you perfectly captured the style of Bohemian Rhapsody and incorporated all of the sources from the opera, something I never thought possible. Some references to Bohemian Rhapsody are too obvious and make it a little cheesy, which I the only "bad" thing I can think of in this mix (the "Ti amazzo" part for example). The singing is also really great, and full of emotions, beautifully done! You've set a new bar, a new goal that every remixer can strife for: to make a mix as good as this or (if it's possible) even better. For now, you have won remixing

Till We Meet Again (zircon, JIllian Aversa, AeroZ): And from the emotional and adrenaline filled previous mixes of the song, we can relax to this beautiful and dreamy version of the Aria. Jill's classic voice is perfect for this song. What a brilliant rendition of the Aria... I just close my eyes and get taken away by this song. I can't even objectively take this apart to analyze it. Beautiful work and a prefectly calming way to end the album. Oh wait, Mr. Aversa is about to crush that...

Full Speed Ahead (zircon): Thought you could relax and peacefully put disc 3 in your cd-player? Think again! This mix has been in my playlist for months aswell (hey, it's the advantage as an artist on the album), what a fantastic version of the Setzer theme. It's just so energetic and powerful, yet so playful. Again, the character's essence is captured excellently (is that even a word?) in this mix. Everytime I have this song in my head, it automaticly switches to the Green Hill Zone because of that piano motif though :P I shouldn't play this when driving, I'm just gonna go faster and faster then. Awesome stuff!

And that's Disc 2! Pfff... I'm not even halfway there and there is so much good stuff in this album. The tracks I like the least are well performed and well made but just not to my liking at worst. Haven't listened to disc 3 and 4 as much as the other discs, so I'll take my time before I'll review those

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Someone mentioned Final Fantasy VIII, which reminds me...

Anyone else get a cool "Lunatic Pandora" vibe from parts of Flexstyle's "13th Floor Demonstration (The Magic House)" mix? :)

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Someone mentioned Final Fantasy VIII, which reminds me...

Anyone else get a cool "Lunatic Pandora" vibe from parts of Flexstyle's "13th Floor Demonstration (The Magic House)" mix? :)

I believe so, but I also heard the Final Fantasy VII "Those Who Fight Again" sample in one of the Opera Trinity tracks (as well as the Queen hommage)

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REALLY an awful song to listen to while you are trying to work on your own orchestration skills. It's like standing at the bottom of a six-thousand step staircase.

But yes, absolutely amazing piece.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's true that it's a beast and it took a while to get done. Sometimes when you work on something for a long period of time you don't know if you're on the right track at certain periods throughout the production process. Anyways thanks again.

-Derek

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I'd like to post some personal information about the significance of this album, even if it's odd and completely out of left field. Final Fantasy IV was an amazing game to me as a kid. It completely revolutionized RPGs and shaped my preferences for gaming as a whole. When I read about plans to release Final Fantasy VI in EGM, it was quite the exciting prospect... "a sequel to my favorite SNES game ever!" I would buy any magazine that had any tidbit of news about it... I'd draw countless pictures of Mog balancing on his dagger. I would daydream about the day I'd finally get my hands on Final Fantasy VI.

Shortly before it was released, I had some "family instability" that resulted in placement within an orphanage for a couple years... A giant prison-like building surrounded by a 15-foot barbed wire fence. In fact, we shared a fence with the juvenile correctional facility next door and the hoodlums there would literally taunt us through the fence. Anyways, I digress. A family friend eventually acquired the rights to get me out on a 4-hour release for Christmas morning to make it a little more special for me. As luck would have it, her son got FFVI for Christmas and I spent all 4 hours watching him play it. I returned to my "prison" later that day, but the music stuck with me and literally echoed in my head for the two years that followed.

When I was released and finally reunited with family, I borrowed FFVI from the same friend who let me watch him play it years earlier. Even though it was already a couple years old, he still had a hard time parting with it because it was such a special game. I played through it day and night, loving every second. I had built these tremendous expectations of the game, and it far-exceeded all of my hopes.

tldr; The soundtrack of FFVI will always be tremendously special to me. For me, it represented the depression of being taken away from my friends and family, the small taste of freedom on that Christmas morning, and the eventual return to normalcy of my childhood. How fitting for a sound track that also has themes of depression, despair, hope, and victory!

Similar to my expectations of FFVI the game, you guys have far exceeded any expectation I had for a re-envisioning of the soundtrack. As someone who attempts audio production in my own free time, I'm blown away / in awe of this release. It's incredibly special to see so many folks with a similar love for this soundtrack, combined with superb musicianship, creativity and audio engineering skills. This is a huge step up from the already-amazing FFVII re-envisioning in every category. Absolutely professional-grade sound and a great mixture of genres. Also, I'm not typically a fan of vocals added to VG remixes. However, the vocals on Tastes Like Victory and On the Run are perfect (as well as various others with subtle vocal nuances). The processing is very atmospheric, and they are placed just right in the mix... not so quiet that you can't hear them or make out the vocals, and also not so up-front that they capture too much attention. In fact, I see them as a fantastic extension of the other instruments. The album is just amazing overall.

Thanks so much to all who poured love into this. To me, this is one of the most important things that has ever happened to video game music.

Edited by noiseordinance

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<personal story />

Wow man. I'm glad our site as a whole could make something that had this much of a connection to you. Seriously, thanks for sharing.

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I hesitate to even write anything else after noiseordinance's poignant post, but something he (she?) said made me come to a sudden realization about Balance and Ruin: The vocals are fantastic in every song that has them.

When it comes to video game music remixes, I usually consider English-language vocals to be a distraction on average and a cringe-inducing dealbreaker at worst. There have been exceptions in the past where I've enjoyed them, but most of the time English lyrics impose a foreign meaning on the song that I don't associate with the underlying music, or they seem too trite or shallow in comparison to do anything but detract from the overall package. A lot of the time, I find myself trying to "filter out" the lyrics in my mind, like they're an unwelcome noise layer I need to effortfully pretend doesn't exist.

I've been listening to Balance and Ruin almost exclusively for the past few days, and noiseordinance made me realize that I never even considered "filtering out" the lyrics from any of the vocal tracks in Balance and Ruin. It never got to the point where I had to consciously ask myself whether I liked the vocals or not, because this time around, they don't sound or feel foreign or "tacked on" at all. They're an integral part of the music in Balance and Ruin, and these remixes just wouldn't sound complete without them. It's probably just a personal thing, but it feels like a bit of a watershed moment. :)

Edited by Mini-Me

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Wow man. I'm glad our site as a whole could make something that had this much of a connection to you. Seriously, thanks for sharing.

Yeah...kind of makes music worth it.

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I find it ironic that I'm known for my vocal remixes, yet in this project which finally has so many vocal remixes in it.......mine has not (unless you count the soldiers grunting and hawing).

I seriously had no idea there'd be this many vocal remixes. And everyone's always like, "Jovette, can you make a remix without vocals?" So yeah, I can. And see what happens? They tricked me into a non-vocal mix on a largely vocal mix project...... lol ftw.

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I don't have much time to say all that much but I do want to say congrats to all the remixers and coordinators on this project. Seriously incredible work, and even though I know this game inside and out, this album has breathed new life into the whole soundtrack for me. Most of the tracks really reminded me of how it felt to play the game when I was 10 years old.

I'll also send out a special shout out to Mr. Strader. That Mog mix really surprised me how much I enjoy listening to it.

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AVG *really* hates "4-08 zircon, Sixto Sounds - Demon, Fiend & Goddess (Dancing Mad).flac", keeps flagging it as a virus.

I'm looking forward to listening to the album as soon as AVG stops blocking it!

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AVG *really* hates "4-08 zircon, Sixto Sounds - Demon, Fiend & Goddess (Dancing Mad).flac", keeps flagging it as a virus.

I'm looking forward to listening to the album as soon as AVG stops blocking it!

Maybe it's an earworm.

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AVG *really* hates "4-08 zircon, Sixto Sounds - Demon, Fiend & Goddess (Dancing Mad).flac", keeps flagging it as a virus.

I'm looking forward to listening to the album as soon as AVG stops blocking it!

One of the many (or rather not so many) I don't use the FLACs and don't use AVG (well... I would if I didn't get a free AV software package when I bought my custom build pc in Jan)

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