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{Featured Guest Post} Review: OC Remix’s Balance and Ruin

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Review: OCRemix’s Balance and Ruin

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Title: Balance and Ruin

Producer: Overclocked Remix

Artists: 74 VGM rockstars, including Mustin, Jake “Virt” Kaufman, Joshua Morse and Christopher “Mazedude” Getman

Released: July 2013

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I first played Final Fantasy VI on Thanksgiving Day, 1995. My best friend had just got the game – back when it was still called Final Fantasy III – and he urged me to level up as fast as I could because he wanted me to “get to the opera.”

 

If you’re a certain kind of gamer, the words “Final Fantasy Opera” have a very special meaning. You probably had a save state right at the moment before you entered the opera house and Celes took on her famous role. We played through that opera five times that afternoon, and by the next week my friend and I were picking out the parts on my mother’s piano, learning how to harmonize and memorize the lyrics.

 

This year, Overclocked Remix, responsible for launching the careers of several famous video game music – aka “VGM” – remixers, released Balance and Ruin, a five-disc, 74-track album covering the entirety of the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack. This is one of the most memorable video game soundtracks of all time, and OCRemix does it justice, recruiting the best talent in the industry to give us an angel-techno remix of Locke’s theme, a ukulele rendition of Mog’s theme and no less than three remixes of the Final Fantasy Opera, one of which is performed in the style of Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

Is this compilation album, which clocks in at just over six hours of music, worth a listen? Absolutely. Even if you’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, you are probably aware of the series’ huge influence on the RPG genre, as well as its influence on fantasy literature, art and of course music. Whether you’re a fan of chiptunes, techno, solo vocal or tight group harmonies, there’s something on this album for everyone.

 

 

Standout tracks include:

  • “Blackjack’s Breakup Bossa” (Calum Bowen feat. Xarnax42), a sultry rendition of Setzer’s theme as if Setzer were Mel Tormé
  • “Smoke and Clouds” (Jeff Ball feat. Laura Intravia), a head-thrumming technopop version of Locke’s theme that I currently have on infinite repeat
  • “The Impresario” (Jake Kaufman and Tommy Pedrini), the aforementioned full-length Final Fantasy Opera As Performed By Queen

 

 

The only downside to Balance and Ruin is that its sheer length means it will probably take days for you to fully listen through all five discs and absorb all of the content. If you’re like me, you like to replay your favorite tracks over and over again, and this means that I’ve had to let several gems languish in order to give my favs extra play.

 

Balance and Ruin is available as a free and legal download on Overclocked Remix’s website, having been fully-funded by Kickstarter and fully-authorized by Square Enix.

 

Final verdict: Whether you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series or of VGM remixes in general, Balance and Ruin is a must-have for your playlist.