Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec: Final Fantasy VIII
- "An orchestral album that reaffirms the high status of the series."
- Release date: 1999-11-20
- Catalog number: SSCX-10037
- Retail price: 2718 yen
- Publisher: Digicube
One disc (64 minutes)
An orchestral album that reaffirms the high status of the series.
Editor's review by Adam Corn (2000-02-26)
I'm no great fan of the Final Fantasy VIII original soundtrack. In fact that's stating things mildly. But I'll gladly admit that Final Fantasy VIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec is a fine CD. The superior instrumental quality, well-done arrangements, and tasteful selection of themes boost the OST's qualities while eliminating many of its flaws.
The very first new arrangement on the album, "Blue Fields", demonstrates the strength of the CD. Performance quality is an easy comparison so I'll tackle that first. Sure FF8's OST synth demonstrated a significant improvement in quality over FF7's, but it was still a detracting factor to the musical experience. I just didn't realize how much of one until I heard Blue Fields on FLWV for the first time. The difference is immense. I think it's in the more subtle tracks like this one where the orchestrations improve upon the original synth so dramatically. They perform so much better in relaying the desired mood, which in Blue Field's case is a gentle, slightly somber sort of wandering - perfectly suited (at last!) to its overworld context.
As for the arranged style, it is minimal and quite faithful to the OST compositions. Instrumental parts are strengthened or weakened a bit to suite the orchestra, very brief little melodic segues are thrown between sections to heighten the drama, occasionally an entirely new section is thrown in here or there to lengthen the piece while never overshadowing the original compositions. In Blue Fields we hear a slight strengthening of the piece's climax and a new segment at the end which fades away deferentially just seven seconds through. The other changes are even less significant, but they all serve the piece tremendously well. A skippable track on the OST has become one I look forward to everytime I begin listening to this album.
Most of the other new arrangements are from tracks that were more favorable in their original OST form, so while they don't provide quite as great a pleasant surprise as Blue Fields, they are excellent nonetheless. The main battle theme "Don't Be Afraid" was an obvious candidate for orchestral arrangement, and the new performance and arrangement serve to boost the power of the piece significantly. "Balamb GARDEN" and "Fisherman's Horizon" were two of the more memorable pieces in the OST, and their orchestrations here fit the originals like a glove. "FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC" tended to get a little mundane in the OST, especially in the context of the game, but the orchestrations here add some much needed flavor to the piece, providing another pleasant surprise.
Finally, mention should be made of "The Man with the Machine Gun", the one selection that made everybody go "hmmmm..." when they heard it would be included on an FF8 orchestral album. It actually retains the slightly bouncy, dancy feel of the original, with good result. It would have been nice if the present brassiness of the piece were boosted a bit to really give it a retro action flavor that is instead only hinted at, but it's interesting regardless.
Tracks 1, 7, and 12 are taken from the OST, since they featured live performances in the first place. I must admit that for some reason I am now more impressed with the two OST instrumental pieces, in the context of this CD. Perhaps I've been skewed since seeing the game's cinematic intro, but "Liberi Fatali" is indeed quite the stirring bombastic orchestral-choral grand introduction. "Ending Theme" is powerful in a more sentimental way, even if the first half of it is bandied away on Eyes on Me and one of the most powerful motifs in the end borrows a bit from the score to the film Dune.
My main problems with the album are not general faults but rather qualms with particular tracks. First of all, including both "Eyes on Me" and the instrumental version "Love Grows" was a mistake. Eyes on Me is a decent song, albeit in an overly gushy pop ballad sort of way, but between its inclusion in its namesake track plus Love Grows and Ending Theme, the theme is overdone. "The Oath" I found particularly bland and uninspiring in the OST, and the arranged version, despite its efforts to liven the composition up, does not fare too much better. Lastly, anyone who hears FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC will be struck by how out-of-place and annoying the wailing female voice is at the end of this otherwise high-quality track.
It's so pleasing and reassuring to get as high quality a Final Fantasy arranged album as FFVIII Fithos Lusec Wecos Venosec. It's not the pinnacle of orchestral game soundtrack arranged albums, but even people who are not fans of the original will likely be impressed by its prowess, and fans will simply be enamored.
Love Succession of Witches....
Reader review by Aaron Lau (1999-12-22)
Shirou Hamaguchi has never ceased to amaze me with his incredible orchestral renditions of Square music. FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC is probably his first full arrangement, with 13 orchestra tracks based on Final Fantasy VIII's music (three of which - "Liberi Fatali", "Eyes on Me" and "Ending Theme" - come from the original soundtrack). Bringing along the same charismatic quality of FF7's Reunion Tracks, Hamaguchi once again uses his magical touch on Nobuo Uematsu's newest piece of work.
In general, the instrumentation does an exceptional job at mirroring the tone and the sounds of the original pieces. In fact, some of the songs are so faithful, that you'd swear you were hearing carbon copies! There can be no better proof to this statement than "Dance With The Balamb-fish". Everything - from the strings, the accordion, and the kettledrums - plays this excellent waltz to an amazing degree. The only difference is the notable finale towards the end. Many tracks are very similar in this pattern; they keep very true to the originals, while throwing in a few new measures for balance. Another good example would be "Fisherman's Horizon". This pleasant town theme adds the delightful surprise of having a choir sprinkled sparingly throughout, giving the song a very mellow touch. "Blue Fields"' lonesome and adventurous overtones (which sounds fantastic for orchestra, by the way) combine wind instruments and strings for a very harmonious effect.
"Balamb Garden", along with its accompaniment, "Ami", deserve special merit. The transitions between these two songs is flawless, producing what might be considered a "school melody suite". A sonorous flute and strings duet plays a very integral role, attaining the same light-hearted, spring-time melody that sounded so nice in the original. "Love Grows" further solidified my purchase for this album, for this is what I had truly wanted all along: a straight-out orchestra version of the Eyes on Me melody. This is perhaps the only song that takes a bit more liberty in its arrangement, because it doesn't sound quite as consistent as its original counterpart. However, the use of a piano supplementing the rest of the orchestra is a very nice effect, and somehow, it creates the feeling of the ongoing relationship between Squall and Rinoa. Whereas the piano represents Squall, always trying to keep up with the melody of "love", the stronger overtones from the strings/brass represents Rinoa, both confident in her feelings, as well as herself. The two come together beautifully, making up what I truly believe to be the main theme of Final Fantasy VIII. The crescendos toward the finale are impressive, leaving me wholly satisfied with an arrangement of a most unforgettable theme.
Heading towards the action side, there is the intensely epic (and highly infectious) battle theme, "Don't Be Afraid". The accuracy of this song is simply shocking, with the percussion sounding even clearer, while the brass/strings section keeps the melody pumping. The new excerpts interwoven into this particular piece are used most effectively, creating some very smooth transitional links into the main melody line. I honestly didn't think they could pull off "The Man With The Machine Gun" - transforming a straight-out disco-dance style theme into orchestra? More amazingly, it's done pretty damn well. The percussion takes a much more liberal approach in structuring the consistent backdrop disco beat, while the brass and wind sections plays a bombastic, almost heroic-like song. We now come to the album's title track, "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec", which is quite a feat in its re-creation. The orchestra does a great job, but there is a certain lack of omnipotence evident in the original. What takes place instead is a far more out-reaching goal of trying to "scare" the listener. The choir itself seems less powerful, and a bit more subdued; what it lacks in power, however, it more than makes up for in resonance. The composition is the strongest asset - just like the original, the numerous witch themes have been melded together into one elaborate-sounding piece. The result is an array of ethically-based instruments, playing a brilliant hybrid of ceremonious tribal beats, a hint of traditional Chinese opera music, and a wicked tango melody. All of these elements come together, making it sound both romantic and extremely eerie at the same time. Indeed, the only thing that mars this truly ground-breaking piece is the unnecessary wailing of what sounds like a very odd Chinese opera singer, that finishes off towards the end. It certainly adds to the overall eerie feel, but it's grating to the ear, nonetheless.
I know that nearly everyone is probably familiar with Liberi Fatali, Eyes on Me, and the Ending Theme already, but I can't end this review without mentioning them. The orchestra plays a highly frenetic-paced set in "Liberi Fatali", sounding frightfully wicked in its performance. The chanting of the album's enigmatic title and the profound Latin lyrics narrate the darker side of the story, while the overall harmony never falters once. The building climax towards the end, accompanied by the gongs of bells, can be felt as if they were Squall's angered and shocked impulse, finishing off with a massive burst of energy.
You cannot imagine the instant attraction I felt when hearing Eyes on Me for the very first time. Uematsu's main trait of melodious music, which has been so evident in his 13 year career, seems to have resulted in this one truly beautiful pop-song. This trait can easily be heard in several subtle references laid within the ballad, and the lyrics themselves are full of meaning - they paint the game's love theme, as well as a very significant scenario. Much controversy has come about with the use of Asian pop vocalist Faye Wong, but for whatever reason, I think the majority would agree with me that she has an excellent voice - extremely radiant, soothing, and full of resonance. She also speaks in a very fluent English manner, something that many other game vocals lack. Needless to say, her performance for this song is nothing short of perfection. The instrumentation plays a great backdrop as well, with excellent strings/drums and electric bass alike. The shinobue flute that comes in halfway gives the song a fairly Celtic edge, a genre in which Uematsu himself has expressed a great interest in.
Finally comes "Ending Theme". Eerie, laid-back strings start off, creating an instant feeling of both entrapment and isolation. The piano makes an excellent accompaniment, as if the listener were on the brink of insanity. And then, as if the curse had been lifted, one more version of Eyes on Me plays out, sounding even more richer with its fully orchestrated sound. Again, like Love Grows, the crescendos are truly amazing, portraying the emotions of the theme of love at its utmost level. We then come to, in all of its glory, the famous Prologue/Final Fantasy Theme. Indeed, the presence of this benchmark song only strengthens this album's completeness, as it just feels like a true Final Fantasy soundtrack upon listening. Both the strings and brass sections makes an outstanding showing, deeming it a very worthy version indeed. What then serves as the final staff roll is a Liberi Fatali reprisal (however, I feel it follows the OST's "The Stage Is Set" a bit more closely in its composition). This is definitely one of my most favorite moments within the piece, finishing off the magnificent 13-minute song appropriately. Heraldic harps then brings back nostalgic memories of the Prelude, as a softly-played, but moving finale ends this masterpiece. Indeed, the scope of this magnificent song can only be fully realized by the stunning scenes that goes along with it.
What Nobuo Uematsu has done for the original music, so too, has Shirou Hamaguchi for its arrangement. Both managed to create a musical touch that is powerful, rich, and all-together inspiring. My desire to hear even more tracks arranged in this fashion is the only possible downside I could give this album.
Reader review by Nick Melton (2002-01-17)
I have never really liked Final Fantasy VIII OST. Despite the fact it worked well in the game, it lacks the very many beautiful melodies and character themes that made FF6 and FF7 OSTs so great. It did very little for me (and many many other FF fans out there) on disc. I was hoping an arranged album for FF8 would be released. Nobuo Uematsu had to redeem himself.
And redeem himself he did. After the first new arrangement, "Blue Fields", I knew the album was something special. After hearing the whole thing, I can assure you with all my heart and soul that I was right.
"Don't Be Afraid" was, of course, an obvious choice for arrangement. The orchestra does an excellent job with this. "Balamb Garden ~ Ami" was also very nicely done, with beautiful transitions and swells in the music.
"Fisherman's Horizon" deserves an entire paragraph to itself. I wouldn't think so highly of this CD without this song. The annoying electric piano of the original has been toned down quite a bit. There is a wordless choir and many different solos of the main melody. At one point, a lone trumpet plays the melody, while the strings play a completely different (but just as beautiful) melody. Because of this, you can see this passage two ways: the trumpet is the accompaniment for the strings, or the strings are the accompaniment for the trumpet. This song is glorious!
"Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" has several problems. Not to say it's a bad track; oh no, it's great too. But there are problems with it. The choir seems to lack some of the energy the choir in the original had. Also, at the end, there is a passage where a wailing female vocalist comes in (probably a Peking opera singer). This is a problem because it is so out of place and doesn't really work, but it has a creepy quality and I can't help getting goosebumps every time I hear it.
"Eyes on Me" is the same as the OST.
"The Man With The Machine Gun" is probably the most controversial tune on this disc. Some people don't like it because it doesn't have the techno feel the original had, and others just love it. I am one of the latter. I think is quite a great track. It retains the overall feel and energy of the original. "Dance With the Balamb-Fish" is one of my favorites on the disc (definitely in the top three, along with "Fisherman's Horizon" and "Fragments of Memories"). It sounds exactly like the OST version.
"Love Grows" is a beautiful piece and is wonderfully arranged, but (although I hate to say this), it probably shouldn't have been on the disc. Either that, or "Eyes on Me" should have been removed and replaced (which I would have preferred). The same love theme appears again during "Ending Theme" and is way overused.
"The Oath" is okay. "Ending Theme" is awesome, but I usually skip it to hear "Fragments of Memories", which is a wonderful way for the album to end. It's beautifully done and ends on a nice satisfying note.
All in all, I believe this is my favorite FF arranged album of all time, and if you don't buy it NOW I'll hunt you down and torture you until you do. This album leaves nothing to be desired (except, of course, more music). Bravo, Mr. Uematsu! My faith in you has been restored!
It restores my faith In Nobuo Uemtasu.
Reader review by Isaac Engelhorn (2000-06-13)
It seems that many soundtrack fans have been fairly dissapointed with Nobuo Uemtasu as of late. His more recent soundtracks have been viewed as being less memorable than those from the past. I, myself, cannot say that I haven't been somewhat dissapointed in the original soundtracks from Final Fantasies VII and VIII. It seemed that we had been getting music that had been rushed or simply bland and uninteresting when compared to previous Final Fantasy Scores.
The arranged version of Final Fantasy VIII, however, is a different matter. The disc contains the three orchestrated tracks from the original FFVIII OST plus ten newly arranged, fully orchestral pieces from the game.
Every track on the CD is enjoyable and is worth listening to. As always, some tracks are more memorable than others. My favorite track on the CD is "Fisherman's Horizon", which employs a wordless choir and subtle orchestra against soft flute, oboe and trumpet solos and builds to an excellent conclusion. At the other end of the spectrum, however, is "The Man with the Machine Gun"; being a dance flavored track, it doesn't quite fit the style of a full orchestral arrangement. Another slight compaint I have is that the melody in "Fragments of Memories" sounds almost identical the main the from "Brave Fencer Musashi". With the controversy following the similarities of the original "Landing" music in the FFVIII demo with the main theme from "The Rock", I would think that Nobuo Uematsu would be more mindful of this. Another tiny complaint is that I can't seem to shake the feeling that "The Oath" sounds like Christmas music, although it may be nothing more than my own recovery from the holiday season.
On the plus side, the CD doesn't attempt to be too movielike, and each song stands very well on it's own two feet. All in all, this is a wonderful soundtrack, and I recommend it to everyone who listens to game music or classical. The CD is very interesting and it restores my faith in Nobuo Uematsu's skills.
An arranged masterpiece - Nobuo Uematsu redeems himself.
Reader review by Roko Zaper (1999-12-19)
Final Fantasy VIII OST left me unsatisfied, Xenogears and Final Fantasy Tactics proved that the Playstation could do better sound sampling and these two albums also proved that others could do better then Nobuo Uematsu himself.
This album was the perfect chance for Nobuo Uematsu to redeem himself and I am glad to say that is exactly what he has done. To me this album has almost erased all of the bad taste left by Nobuo's previous effort. Not only has he done that but he has created one of the most memorable Final Fantasy soundtracks to date and that in itself is an achievement of a life time.
Previous Final Fantasy arrangements only left me wanting more; Nobuo hinted at the incredible potential of orchestrated arrangements before, but it is only with this album that he truly fulfills this potential.
Nobuo has completely revised all the compositions (except tracks 1, 7, and 12), revitalising them and giving them a new feel, superior to the old one. The instrument selection for the compositions is also incredible. But what most impressed me were the arrangements of "Don't be Afraid" and "The Man with the Machine Gun", bland compositions in the OST but some of the most enjoyable in Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec.
Even if you hated the music found in the OST, this album will absolutely stun you. Somehow, Nobuo has given each composition that classical Final Fantasy feeling that many were afraid was disappearing. For the first time I feel totally satisfied after listening to a Final Fantasy arranged album. My only wish is for a fully orchestrated OST album in the future. Perhaps Nobuo will fulfill that promise someday too, but for now this is Nobuo Uematsu at his best!
Nobuo Uematsu's last arrangement? It certainly is good enough to be.
Reader review by Mark Almas II (1999-11-30)
When I listen to anything by Nobuo Uematsu I can truly feel what his music is trying to say. Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec: Final Fantasy VIII Orchestra Version is no exception. The music is truly something to behold.
Before I review FF8OV objectively, I've got to state ahead of time that I am completely and utterly biased. I'm instantly in love with anything Nobuo is involved with. I'm a collector of sorts, and I have nearly everything he's ever written in one medium or another. I listen in the car, when I'm doing homework, and I hum various tunes he's written constantly.
FF8OV contains a wealth of treasure. I was a bit skeptical when I started the orchestrated battle music "Don't be Afraid" and "The Man with the Machine Gun"; I couldn't think of a way you could really put that music to a full orchestra and make it appealing. But they were both wonderful. I highly recommend "Fisherman's Horizon" and "Love will Grow"; both are absolutely beautiful. "Fisherman's Horizon" captures the essence of tranquility, and "Love will Grow" truly expresses the romance between Squall and Rinoa in Final Fantasy VIII. "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec", for me, wasn't what I expected it to be. I liked the original from the game better. In the arranged version it sounds a bit flat in places, and the percussion isn't as primal sounding as in the original track. For those that have heard Xenogears Creid, I liked a lot of the really eastern-sounding vocals, but the vocal near the end of "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" didn't sound pleasant to me.
I would recommend this soundtrack to anyone who likes orchestrations, or is a die-hard Nobuo fan like myself. Even people who don't know what Final Fantasy is or who Nobuo Uematsu is would enjoy this album.
- All tracks are orchestral arrangements except 1, 7, and 12, which are orchestral OST versions.
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