Final Fantasy IV - Soundtrack Review

Riverdance + Final Fantasy = Win

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. The Prelude
2. Prologue...
3. Chocobo-Chocobo
4. Into the Darkness
5. Main Theme of Final Fantasy IV
6. Welcome to Our Town!
7. Theme of Love
8. Melody of Lute
9. Parom & Polom
10. Giotto, the Great King
11. Dancing Calcobrena
12. Mystic Mysidia
13. Illusionary World
14. Rydia
15. Troian Beauty
Total Playtime: 52:28
Nobuo Uematsu
Máire Bhreatnach
NTT Publishing

   The concept of the arrange album is certainly nothing new to the field of music. Musicians have been covering each others' songs with their own unique versions since the dawn of time (well, almost). Nearly every band, solo performer, and composer has at least a few covers locked away in their respective portfolios, and Nobuo Uematsu is no exception. Final Fantasy IV Celtic Moon is not the first video game arrange album, but many may say that it is among the first commercially and critically successful ones. These merits do not go undeserved, as Celtic Moon, though not perfect, is definitely one of the more memorable arrange albums to come along.

   The fact that this album continues to be regarded as one of the best video game arrange albums twelve years after its release is a testament to both its staying power and its ability to appeal to several audiences. Celtic Moon draws in fans of video game music, Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu, and Celtic music. And this isn't your grandfather's watered-down variety of Celtic, either. The Celtic themes embue classic Final Fantasy IV tunes with a rich, frothy flavor that goes down smooth and finishes clean. Authentic Celtic instruments performed by veteran Celtic performer Máire Bhreatnach breathe new life into tried-and-true melodies. Fans of the Final Fantasy IV Original Soundtrack won't feel lost with Celtic Moon as the arrangements stay very true to the originals. At the same token, the arrangements also mix things up enough so that listeners find a new listening experience. In short, it's the best of both worlds.

   Giving a video game score an authentic feel from a different genre of music also has a flip side, however. Some listeners will complain that Celtic Moon sounds or feels "too Celtic," especially those listeners who came to like Celtic music by listening to more popular, commercialized, or contemporary forms of the genre. This kind of Celtic is quite different. There are no contemporary instruments present; there is a consistent "olde towne," rural feel to the album. The Celtic themes in this album are indeed very pervasive; they're omnipresent throughout the length of the CD. There are no breaks or changes in the theme; it is old country Celtic through and through. This may be considered "too much" for some people, but true music aficionados will be able to appreciate how well the two very different musical genres were blended.

   The most obviously impressive component of Celtic Moon is the musicianship. Máire Bhreatnach does a brilliant job performing her beautiful arrangements of some of Uematsu's most memorable melodies. The instrumentation is top notch and the instruments sound great. From the deep, buzzing vibrations of a cello to the rich plucks of a harp, the listener feels as though they are at a live private concert. This is also a testament to the superb mixing of the recorded instruments. Every sound is crisp and every instrument is heard and remembered. From a purely aural aspect, the album is superb.

   Because of the high production values, it is safe to say that Celtic Moon is lesser than the sum of its parts. Each factor input that went into the final product is top notch, yet the final product will not appeal to everyone, sadly. If the producers had incorporated a more contemporary sound, similar to Xenogears Creid, there's little doubt that Celtic Moon would be more appealing to a much broader audience. However, at the same token, the producers might also be accused of selling out for doing such a thing.

   The bottom line is this album is good. It's as great to hear such a unique, interesting take on classic tunes as it is to hear such an authentic performance of age-old Celtic music. Where Celtic Moon suffers, though, is in the personal preference department. It is certainly an acquired taste, not meant for everyone. Those who can truly appreciate music for what it is will find listening to Celtic Moon a rewarding experience. Fans of Final Fantasy will also find something very worthwhile. But those unfamiliar with what is being presented will have a more difficult time learning to enjoy it.

Sound Quality
Production Value
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