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Distant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fantasy Import

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 1 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: CD Baby
  • ASIN: B003KJ4C2U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Awesome orchestrated tracks from the Final Fantasy franchise. Dancing Mad is enough reason to buy this cd alone, I love this cd and I will be getting the rest in the Distant Worlds line.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great CD for any fan of Final Fantasy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa85616f0) out of 5 stars 78 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa86e97a4) out of 5 stars Well worth the wait and the price July 3 2010
By Daniel Conlin - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was ecstatic when I heard there was going to be a Distant Worlds II. Whenever classic video game music is arranged for and played by a full orchestra, I'm there, especially in the case of Final Fantasy. I own all of the other Final Fantasy orchestral concert CDs and had high hopes for this one. I'm happy to say this album delivered and then some.

1. Prelude (FF Series): The perfect way to begin the show. Right when the first few notes started playing, I was instantly swept into a wave of nostalgia, remembering the first time I played each Final Fantasy game. The choir is introduced in this track, and I fell in love with them. I can't really explain why, I just really enjoyed their sound.
2. The Man with the Machine Gun (FF VIII): I always enjoy the orchestral arrangement of this piece. Not as much as I enjoy "Don't Be Afraid" from the original Distant Worlds, but it still puts a smile on my face. It's always a great achievement when an orchestra can pull off an upbeat piece like this one so well.
3. Ronafure (FFXI): I've never played FFXI, and I likely never will unless SE realizes what a terrible idea monthly fees are. That being said, this piece is generally unremarkable for me, but that's likely only because I've never played the game and haven't really connected with the song as so many others have. It's a pleasant enough piece though. It didn't stand out, but I certainly enjoy listening to it nonetheless.
4. A Place to Call Home - Melodies of Life (FFIX): I absolutely loved this. I'd heard this one a few times before, though those times the lyrics were in Japanese. It was very well translated (I think. If it wasn't well translated, it still at least has good English lyrics). I don't mind songs in Japanese, but I just never liked the woman who sang this before, so this was a welcome change for me. I think Susan Calloway's voice fits very well with both this and Suteki da ne. I'd love to hear more from her if there's a Distant Worlds III (which Uematsu-san has admitted he'd like to do).
5. Zanarkand (FFX): Such a beautiful piece. I'm nearly driven to tears just listening to the original piano version of this, but with a full orchestra the song gains such beauty and depth that it's almost overwhelming. It holds special significance for me also because FFX was my first Final Fantasy. This version was also on "More Friends" I believe, which was, in my opinion, the weakest of all the FF concert albums, though it was still enjoyable. But the performance on this CD is much better in my opinion, possibly because of the studio recording instead of the live concert hall recording.
6. Dancing Mad - Featuring Nobuo Uematsu's band Earthbound Papas(FFVI): If nothing else, this track is the reason you should get this CD. Until now, the only other arrangement of this I knew besides the original was The Black Mages' version (Nobuo Uematsu's other band, not sure if he's still doing that though). This completely trumps both that and the original in nearly every way. The choir comes back for this piece and they're at the top of their game the whole way through, perfectly meshing with the orchestra and band. My personal favorite part is the last section where the choir, band, and orchestra all come in full swing for the big finale. In my opinion, One-Winged Angel made this combination (choir/orchestra/rock band) amazing, but this performance absolutely perfected it. The only thing I wasn't so sure about was when the band came in on their own. It was a great part, don't get me wrong, but I think parts of that were better when the Black Mages did it. It just sounded kind of empty at first, but once the band went into a double time feel I was back in there with them. All in all, this is the best track, hands down.
7. Victory Theme (FF Series): Only a few seconds long. It's good for novelty I guess, but not much else. That being said, now we have an orchestral version of the victory theme, which could be useful.
8. Suteki da ne (FFX): As I said before, I much prefer these English versions as well as the singer to the other performances I've heard of this and Melodies of Life. Again, I just never liked the original singer for this. That weird scooping thing she does on almost every other note gives the illusion that she's almost tone deaf at times (especially evident in the original version on the "da" syllable in the refrain). Susan Calloway was a breath of fresh air for me. She pulled this off beautifully and made it her own. That being said, the lyrics of this one seem very "Engrish-y" to me. It was translated by someone different than Melodies of Life, and that's very (sometimes painfully) evident. Still, I personally highly recommend this version over the original or any other arrangement.
9. Terra's Theme (FFVI): I've heard this many times before, and it's just as beautiful and flowing, while at the same time stately and strong as it always was. Nothing much to say about this one. It's a wonderful piece. If this is your first time hearing it, you'll love it, unless you have no soul.
10. Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII (FFVII): Beautiful, yet haunting. I think this piece, in a way, represents the entirety of Final Fantasy VII very well. Just listen. It starts off slow, the intro swaying between flowing/calm and haunting. Then the main theme kicks in and it's so serene that it could lull you to sleep (in a good way). Then almost without you realizing it, it goes into minor and the haunting melodies come back. I really can't explain it any further, you'll just have to listen for yourself. Trust me, it's well worth it.
11. Prima Vista Orchestra (FFIX): This was a surprise to me. In the game, you barely noticed this track in the game. It was when Zidane (NOT Zi-dahn. If it was meant to be pronounced that way, it would have been spelled accordingly, but I digress) was chasing Garnet through the Prima Vista near the beginning of the game. The song was seamlessly placed in the scene, played off as if the orchestra in the game was playing it, which led to an amusing part where Garnet ran past the orchestra, bumping into each of them and as a result the music changed tone and key. Anyway, it was nice to see an underdog like this one take the stage at last. It's certainly a very enjoyable piece. It's carefree and has a laid back feel to it, which is nice.
12. Dear Friends (FFV): I always enjoy when a guitar and orchestra come together like this. Whether it's upbeat like Classical Gas or tranquil like this, you can almost never go wrong with this combination. This was also on "More Friends" and as before, I like this version better.
13. JENOVA (FFVII): This caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it and I didn't expect it to be so good. When I heard it for the first time, I didn't think much of it. Sure, it was fun and a cool orchestral arrangement of the Black Mages version of the song, but it didn't really jump out. However, after a few more listens, I found the song to be very, for lack of a better term, catchy. It just works so well, I can't explain it. The drum beat is in my head constantly, and, even though it's kind of a generic beat, I don't mind because it works perfectly with the song. This quickly became my second favorite on the CD, right after Dancing Mad. If you get this, take more than one listen to this one so you can really (not sure how else to say this) "get it."

Well, that's my review. If you're thinking of getting this, then do it. Odds are, if you were thinking of getting it in the first place, you'll enjoy it. This isn't just for Final Fantasy fans. The music speaks for itself.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa841bcd8) out of 5 stars Uematsu + Roth = GOLD! May 29 2010
By Viktor Müller - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Square has done it again; they've managed to rehash the same-old, familiar songs we've all come to know and love (and sometimes get sick of hearing) while at the same time adding something refreshingly new. Case in point, 'Distant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fantasy'. Admittedly, this album is "fresher" than the last album (the last one only contained ONE new song). But the thing I like about the Distant Worlds series is that they ARE the definitive overseas (non-Japanese only) release to diehard Uematsu fans. I recently had the pleasure of viewing the 'Voices' concert DVD of Final Fantasy and I must say "Maestro" Arnie Roth isn't only in it for the paycheque. He takes Uematsu's music and makes it his own by pouring his passion and enthusiasm into Uematsu's works, re-breathing a new vitality into the music. 'Distant Worlds II' is no exception. With him at the helm, and recorded in studio-quality sound, every sound is not only note-perfect, but is truly alive.

1. The album kicks off with the famous 'Prelude' sung with a choir in Latin. This version was featured on 'Voices' and I'm glad it made it here as the revamped melody is very haunting.
2. Next up is the familiar James Bond-esque 'The Man with the Machine Gun'. Unchanged since 'Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec', this is a rehashed track that has appeared on other albums over the years so there's nothing new here.
3. Next is 'Ronfaure', which appeared on the elusive 'Tour de Japon' album, is a nice renaissance-style melody to have in the collection. I had never seen it on another concert album so for me this is more-or-less new.
4. & 8. Susan Calloway returns to sing the two vocal tracks, 'Melodies of Life' and 'Suteki da ne'. She brings a definite "American pop" quality to the music which might agree to some tastes, but for me the original Japanese singers are irreplaceable. Admittedly, I did enjoy her version of 'Suteki da ne', which has been translated into English for this album.
5. 'To Zanarkand' is the same as on "More Friends' but this time without the limitations of a live concert recording. The lush, full orchestrations make this a very beautiful and moving piece, a definite improvement over the piano-only original.
6. 'Dancing Mad'; ah, THIS is the THE reason to buy the CD! Never before recorded on this scale, this is the CD premiere of Uematsu's magnum opus. Full orchestrations, a real baroque pipe-organ, a Latin choir, and also the first-ever recording premiere of Uematsu's new band Earthbound Papas (what ever happened to the Black Mages?), this 10+ minute track has everything you'd expect from a final boss theme.
7. The 'Victory Theme' is short and ultimately useless as a track on this album. Lasting mere seconds, I feel they could have picked something better to fill in the space here or at least expanded upon it, playing the whole tune outright.
9. First appearing in '20020220', 'Tina's Theme' is another rehashed, albeit beautiful track that is definitely played much better here than in its disappointing and soulless interpretation in 'More Friends'.
10. 'Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII' is another rehash not seen since 'Tour de Japon'.
11. 'Prima Vista Orchestra' is short and sweet and is more-or-less new as this only appeared on the 'Voices' DVD.
12. 'Dear Friends' is presented here for the first time since '20020220'. Gentle, relaxing and nostalgic, is a fine orchestral piece that highlights the guitar.
13. 'J-E-N-O-V-A' is an awesome new track for this album. With a beginning reminiscent of 'The Twilight Zone', it has flaring brass, a jazz-esque drumline and and haunting choir. Another good reason to buy this album.

With only some minor gripes, my overall impression with this album is a positive one. Yes, there are some older tracks we've heard before but most of them were from live concert albums of poor quality anyway. With this album recorded in top-notch studio quality, I could easily say that there are few reasons to have any other "arranged" albums in one's collection than the Distant Worlds CDs. If you enjoy the music of Final Fantasy and are maybe interested in whittling your collection down to a "best of" collection, I'd say look no further, go out and buy it now.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa83ba318) out of 5 stars Buy it for Dancing Mad, stay for everything else Aug. 26 2010
By MWM - Published on
Verified Purchase
As someone who imported the original sountrack of Final Fantasy VI, I've prayed and waited years for an orchestrated version of Dancing Mad. After being somewhat sated by the rock version by the Black Mages (Uematsu's band), I'm here to say that it was worth the long wait, but I was still a little disappointed with the album.

A compilation of a great artist's work such as this could never merit fewer than 5 stars, but some of the compositions were not as good as earlier versions, particularly if they had non-live orchestral recordings.

To whit; the vocal tracks (Melodies of Life and Suteki Da Ne) sung by Susan Calloway, are translated, well, I am sure, into English. The English presentation and powerful but poorly cast vocalist took the gravitas and melancholy out of these songs. These versions have little of the originals' whispy and ethereal notes nor the, in my opinion, proper emotive qualities.

Going more in order now, "Prelude" is perhaps the best arranged song here. It's simple and beautiful and is the best version of this oft-repeated song.

"The Man with the Machine Gun" unlike many of the other songs here, is not quite powerful enough, and I thought, an odd choice. Still, very good quality and highly energetic piece.

"Ronfaure" while risking overstaying it's welcome, is well arranged.

"Zanarkand" isn't quite as good here as in Dear Friends (or Piano Collections), but it's still an utterly beautiful piece.

The reason I bought this, "Dancing Mad", immediately floored me with the new Latin chorus and the power of full orchestral accompaniment. However, late into the song (the forth movement, Kefka) delved into some strange instumentation, lost impact, and strayed from the energy and emotion of the original. Here it suffers from overarrangement. Overall, it still makes the whole album worth the price of admission.

Further it was great to hear new orchestrations of "Fanfare", "Prima Vista Orchestra", and "Jenova" (which worked almost amazingly well in this setting).

The rest, as above, suffer from only not being the best version availible of a lovely song, but if you're looking for Uematsu live, this has the best sound quality (unless you see him in person, and really, you should).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa841b6a8) out of 5 stars Mixed reaction May 2 2011
By Chang Chuang - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is my review for Distant Worlds I & II. I think they deserve 4 stars as an objective, over all rating. But scaled to expectations of fans (or at least unrealistically high expectations like mine), 3 stars is more telling.

I'm so glad for the Distant Worlds tour and these recordings. They're wonderful for fans of the music. The pieces are all polished and rich, so people who aren't a part of the Final Fantasy cult can easily hear and enjoy the music.

Many of the pieces are excellent. "Man with a Machine Gun" may be my favorite. They took a piece that was interesting to the next level, with more dynamism and action. With many pieces, I was surprised and pleased to be struck by a theme that I hadn't paid much attention to before. There were some that were flat on the computer, but came alive with the orchestra.

But unfortunately, the opposite was true for others. Some actually lose something that the simple midi piece had. A lot of these pieces are slow. I think the point was to do it right and not rush. But part of the appeal of the original game pieces were that they had a lot of energy. They were often fast and percussive. But some of that energy is lost with the orchestra. Some have more variation and complexity, but aren't as punchy.

The biggest mistake, in my opinion, was putting too much flourish in the character themes. Both "Aerith's Theme" and "Terra's Theme" are beautiful, but have so much flourish for a short piece that it borders on poor taste.

Over all, Distant Worlds I & II are worth it. The music is rich and it's a low price! The degree of success varies greatly by song, but that was almost inevitable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa84173cc) out of 5 stars Uematsu does it again. July 3 2010
By S. Spratt - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm somewhat a collector of Uematsu's work, and Distant Worlds II maintains the highest level of its performance that the original Distant Worlds first achieved. It contains many of the tracks that I felt were missing from the original, including Zanarkand, Terra's Theme, and Jenova. The orchestra is powerful and made me love The Man with the Machine Gun for the first time. Dancing Mad, Kefka's final theme, is the real gem of the collection, but every track is its best performance. If you love Uematsu or love Final Fantasy, this album is for you.

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