You are currently viewing an archived back issue of Animefringe Online Magazine. Click here to read our latest issue!
volume 3 issue 8

In This Issue

Contents 2
Features 3
Chasing Otakuism 10
Anime Briefs 11
Reviews 12
Web Showcase 26
24 home / august 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

INFO FILE
Title:
Project Majestic Mix: A Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu
Format:
1 CD
15 tracks
Production:
KFSS Studios
Comments:
The tangible product of a generation of fans' love for one of the greatest composers alive, this album is an impressive nod to Nobuo Uematsu - one that belongs in the collection of every person who admires video game music. Produced and funded entirely by fans, for fans.
Overall Rating:
94%

Animefringe Reviews:
Project Majestic Mix: A Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu
By Patrick King

I have always liked video game music. From the catchy square waves emanating from my NES all the way to today's wide variety of orchestral-quality compositions, I've been hooked on game soundtracks as long as I've been hooked on electronic entertainment. I can recall hooking up a cheap portable tape player to my SNES so that I could manually record the music from games like The Legend of Zelda III: A Link to the Past, Jurassic Park, Actraiser, or Lagoon. I liked the music so much I bought my own Yamaha synthesizer just so I could record my own mixes of the songs.

Then I played Final Fantasy II (Final Fantasy IV for the more internationally aware readers). This game made me become a big RPG fan. I went through FFIV three times in a row just so I could record every bit of music it had; I filled four cassette tapes (remember those?) with the stuff. I let friends play it just so I could have an excuse to see the great story again. Nobuo Uematsu became the first video game musician I could name, and to this day, I consider Final Fantasy III (or VI) to possess the finest soundtrack ever produced for a video game.

Sadly, at the time, I thought I was alone in my obsession. This is before the magic of the Internet, so I had no easy way of getting a CD version of the music I loved so much. Nintendo Power released a few game soundtracks through its proprietary catalogue, and Square had a merchandise order form included with FFVI that allowed me to snag the coveted three-disc soundtrack for the game, but aside from that, I was unable to find anything. Years passed, and I discovered Game Music Online as soon as I connected to the blossoming Internet, and then I just as quickly discovered that they only carried those annoying bootlegs produced by Son May Records. It wasn't until I made a trip to Japan (yay!) that I was able to purchase direct legitimate game soundtracks. I bought $300 (USD) worth of CDs during my ten-day stay in the nation.

Nowadays, it's not too hard to find game music. TOKYOPOP has recently produced a number of domestic versions of Japanese CDs - some more complete than others - that are actually a rather good value. In addition, you can find a huge selection of legitimate (not pirated) Japanese soundtracks at www.animenation.com and www.gamemusiconline.com (the latter site has mended its ways and no longer carries bootlegs). Yet, there is no local mainstream music company focusing primarily upon video game music. Luckily, for us, there's KFSS Studios.

More than four years ago, Stephen Kennedy (a fellow Missourian - here in the States) embarked upon a quest that most people would consider insane. He decided that it was about time something was done about the oversight of video game music here in the Western world - and rather than wait for others to fix this problem, he took a swing at solving it himself. As he states in the incredibly detailed liner notes for the Gold edition of PMM, this "is intended to be the foundation and genesis of a new movement to bridge the gap between video game music and the conventional music" found domestically. This is clearly a great stride in that direction. For years, Westerners have been producing their own remixes of game music and posting it wherever they can.

The Overclocked Remixes site is perhaps one of the best and most widely known. However, Stephen actually contacted the copyright holders and Nobuo Uematsu himself in order to secure the license to produce his own collection of remixed game music. The CD was funded by hundreds of sponsors (like me!) that each donated some money in order to help defray the gargantuan licensing fees and overcome other production costs. In the end, the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that went into this album is grossly disproportionate to how much monetary compensation was given to the skilled musicians and behind the scenes producers that were involved in bringing this idea to life.

But here it is - available now through Animenation in a rapidly selling Silver edition and soon to be released in a mass-market edition. Sponsors who contributed at least $20 over the past few years were treated to a special two-disc version of the album - dubbed the Gold edition - but its production was limited to 1,500, and there's a good chance it will be incredibly hard to find if you didn't donate. After years of waiting (and I realize my task of waiting was not nearly as hard as the task the album's producers had before them), I'm glad to report that this set was entirely worth it.

The main disc (and the one that comes with the Silver set) is jammed full with music ranging from techno to rock to orchestral to a lovely blending of styles. There's an excellent rendition of Within the Giant from FFIV, two mixes of the ever-present Prelude theme, and a captivating techno remix of Sealed Door from Chrono Trigger. I can't speak for the Silver set, but I couldn't be more pleased with the packaging for the Gold edition. It arrived in a double DVD hard plastic case (similar to A.D. Vision's cases for Devil Hunter Yohko and A.D. Police) with a 19 page insert containing details on each track, a list of sponsors, and tons of other information.

Now, no matter how much was included, there's no way any collection of Final Fantasy music could contain EVERY great track. This is similar to a collection of The Beatles, as there are literally hundreds of tracks that fans love, and thus scores will have to be left out of the final cut. Knowing that fans were going to be the ones supporting this project, Stephen conducted a series of online polls in the early planning stages so that the public could have a say in choosing the styles and individual tracks for the album. While I personally wish that something else could've taken the place of another remix of The Man with the Machine Gun (a great track, but one that's represented well in the available soundtrack lineups), this is still a great selection of songs. I find myself very glad that I scraped together the $20 I needed to secure a Gold set, since I think my favorite songs are on that disc.

For the curious, the bonus disc included an orchestrated arrangement of the ending theme of FFVI and some great tracks from FFIV, along with quite possibly the best version of "Vivi's Theme" anyone could ever produce. Hopefully, one day, these other outstanding tracks will become more widely available. Sure, it's neat having an exclusive CD, but more than anything I want to share this music - not keep it to myself. (No, that does not mean I'm going to make copies of this CD and send it to my friends - the great people at KFSS Studios deserve all the money and support they've earned, so we get another great mix!)

So, if you're a fan of game music, head over to www.kfssstudios.com and check out what's brewing. Another limited CD set is in the works for an October release (this time containing tracks from a boatload of Square's games - not just Final Fantasy), and it's sure to sell fast. If you like their stuff, do everyone a favor and purchase their CD to help bring video game music into the North American mainstream!

24 Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward
Original Material 1999 / 2002 Animefringe, All Rights Reserved.
Comments / Questions?
You are currently viewing an archived back issue of Animefringe Online Magazine. Click here to read our latest issue!