Nobuo Uematsa – Advent Children – Final Fantasy VII (Soundtrack)

A lot of metalheads claim they love classical music, but really they love saying they do. Every metalhead has heard of the influences of classical music on metal, and so most of us feel some sort of abstract need to appreciate it, thinking that it’ll somehow make us more cultured and legitimize our love of the ‘uncultured’ music that heavy metal is. I like classical music, insofar as I’d rather listen to it than pop or country. But liking classical music when it’s on is very different from actually knowing shit about classical music, which I certainly don’t. It shames me, but I know almost nothing about classical music, and I generally just PLAN to get into classical music in the near future. No, seriously, I’m going to sequentially listen to all of Beethoven’s symphonies and get an appreciation for the genre. Really. I mean it.

To add to my lack of credibility, I’ve not only never seen ‘Advent Children’, but I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game in my life. I didn’t cry when Aeris died because I didn’t even know who Aeris is and still don’t to this day. I somehow managed to avoid every single game in the series. It’s not even an odd point of pride for me: it’s just a pop culture gap of mine that’ll probably never be filled anytime soon. Quite frankly, I have no desire to. Perhaps this is beneficial, though: I have absolutely no outside knowledge to taint this review. I don’t have any preconceived images, memories, emotions, or thoughts about the music here. I have no sexy montages of Tifa or Cloud (especially Cloud) to distract me from the music. Of course, it also leaves the chance that I’ll be missing some big special part of the appreciation of the subtle melodies of the soundtrack, but I figure I’ll take my chance.

It’s okay. It’s one of those things where every good point has an accompanying bad one. The material here is varied; it ranges from orchestral and choral music to experimental ambiance to some techno-industrial rock music. On the same note, such variance results in some stuff being good and some stuff sucking. I probably would have been a lot happier with the ‘Advent Children’ soundtrack if it was simply composed of orchestral music and some ambient. For some reason, numerous modern composers feel the need to incorporate electric guitars playing crappy pseudo-metal riffs to make it ‘harder’ or ‘edgier’, but in this case it just makes it sound stupid and out of place. Rock music is good. Classical music is good. But I’m of the opinion that they generally fail when combined, and this soundtrack is no exception. Another note: there’s a lot of material here. Problem: a lot of it sounds the same, and there’s a loooooot of fucking music here to get through. You can put it on as background music, but that has you ignoring many of the intricacies of the compositions, but giving it your full attention is a pretty serious test of patience.

I can’t help but think the music here would be a great deal more enthralling with the added visual stimulus of the film. The actual musical content seems pretty thin at times: all the different varieties of music are fairly repetitive, despite how layered they may be to begin with. That’s not to say what’s there isn’t pleasing; it’s most certainly very beautiful and very well crafted music. Hell, it’s downright entrancing at times. But it’s something that I can really only listen to in bits and pieces: an entire album’s worth of this stuff really wears on me after a while. Granted, this is probably because this isn’t music that I would ever listen to on my own anyway, but the point still stands. I love the classical pieces, as well as the ambient and choral pieces. They’re very beautiful. I still wouldn’t listen to them in my spare time.

If the soundtrack of the movie struck you, go buy it. If you love classical/choral/ambient music, go buy it. Hell, if you like well crafted music in general, snap it up immediately. But if you’re not part of the target audience of this, at least part of it will probably be lost on you. Just how much that part is depends on the person.

(Originally written for http://www.grindingtheapparatus.net)

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~ by noktorn on August 14, 2007.

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