Checking the Score is a feature about video game music, composers, musicians and tools of the trade.
If you’re a fan of video game music, this normally means that any music in its multitude of forms will bring pleasure to your ears. Because video game soundtracks are plentiful, this usually means those individuals with more musical talent than I will find unique ways to remix, cover and transform our favorite tracks into something new while still giving us those same melodies we fell in love with. Here to add some relaxation to our daily lives is the latest album of remixes: The World is Square. Composer, Mustin, takes some of our most beloved tracks from notable Square Enix titles and transforms them into an album perfect for chilling. A lot of heart and soul shine through the tracks and create a new experience from themes we’ve heard over the decades to bring new flavor to the melodies. Fans of classic JRPGs like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI and others will find a musical home in the soundtrack. We at Hardcore Gamer were given special privilege by Scarlet Moon Records to discuss exclusive details about some of the tracks found within the album, so let’s kick off our 2019 with some chill-out.
If you’re wondering how to turn these beloved tracks into a chillout, easy listening album, Mustin knows the answer. Many of these tracks start with a foundation of the melodies we love and remember. New themes are then built around it so that the theme is still recognizable, but with a new twist. Listening to a Chrono Trigger track, we can hear the original “Secret of the Forest” track, but Mustin has added funky synths to meld with the piano. The product is even more upbeat than its original counterpart that just gives off some good vibes. Being able to transform a game’s themes to go beyond its intended purpose into something for everyday listening is truly creative. It’s also a genuine surprise to hear how contemporary musical composition fits a theme that’s over twenty years old. Mustin shows us that “old” doesn’t mean “obsolete.” Sweeping rises and falls from the synths still give us the Chrono Trigger sense of exploration, and the piano brings us back to that “classic” feeling for a refreshing take on a beloved theme.
The theme of classic and contemporary shines through each track, with different moods that correspond with the source material. Where the “Secret of the Forest” track is funky and upbeat, the Final Fantasy VI track, “Lonely Girl (Terra),” brings us to a soulful place. The title alone sets the tone for the track and hits us with a beautiful medley of guitars and synths. I could be a tad biased since Final Fantasy VI is one of my all-time favorite games, but Mustin truly nails the identity of the song in this contemporary twist. While listening, one can’t help but head-bob to the beat and give into the ethereal quality of the track. I would say Mustin goes hard (for chillout) in this track and hits us with emotional composition. Light vocals in the background bring the whole piece together and give us another fresh perspective on Nobuo Uematsu’s classic theme.
The World is Square has only just been announced for future release and we are not yet privy to all tracks on the album. The couple of tracks that we can view, however, are a great sign that the rest of the album will be a strong collection of our favorite tracks. An additional track not mentioned here is available for listen on Mustin’s Bandcamp page (track 01), where interested listeners can pre-order digital and physical copies of the album. The rest of Mustin’s body of work can also be viewed from the Bandcamp. Additional options for pre-orders are also available through Amazon Music and iTunes. These are live until the expected release date for the album on February 14. If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on classic tracks, this album knows how to set the mood.