OK, so when I see a link in a blog post, I’m usually inclined to click it. Why? Because I know one of two things will happen. I will either learn something or see something hilarious. So, keep that in mind with this review of Sanctuary the new album from The Star Onions.
When I first heard about this album at FanFest 2008 I was really excited, because I really enjoyed The Star Onions first album, Music From The Other Side to Vana’diel. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this band they are comprised of several Square-Enix composers including Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka and Hidenori Iwasaki. They blend jazz with synthesizers and bring Final Fantasy XI music to life in a way that is profoundly beautiful and moving.
The new album, Sanctuary, contains 11 stellar tracks done up in the fashion that only the Star Onions can deliver. Across these 11 tracks are songs from almost every expansion, including Wings of the Goddess and Treasures of Aht Urghan, and all the tracks have a varied sound from what The Star Onions deliver on their first album. Some track are very upbeat and pleasant to listen to and other tracks can be downright hauntingly dark. But all tracks are superb in their structure, timing and instrumentation, while at once being true to the original music and also being distinct and unique.
Much of this album reminds me of the work of Chick Corea particularly his work with the Elektric Band. Specifically the track Griffons Never Die is very much a throwback to that brand of jazz fusion. Other parts of the album remind me of something I would hear in Cirque Du Soleil, which is a compliment. With Sanctuary The Star Onions have added an accordion to their instrumentation which adds to the Cirque feel, but also brings a unique and attractive tenor to the mix. Fighters of the Crystal is very much in this style.
There are some tracks that really stand out on this record. Rapid Onslaught – Assault reminds me of a lot of the music in another Square game, Chrono Cross, especially with the great violin on that tune. Xarcabard is a dark haunting track with a cello that really captures the essence of that cold cruel wasteland. It sounds like it would be right at home on Twin Peaks or Dark Night of the Soul or some other David Lynch project.
Gustaberg strikes a special places in my heart, being a Bastokian, it hearkens back to the time when I had just started this game and was learning my way around Gustaberg. The Star Onions also do a version of Distant Worlds. The Black Mages did a version of Distant Worlds on their most recent album, and the Star Onions do the song justice just in a completely different way.
Where can you get this album? From the iTunes store! This is a great option because the iTunes store has reformatted their audio files to be DRM free .MP3s, meaning if you’re like me and own something other than an iPod, you can use these on your portable MP3 player without a problem! I highly recommend downloading iTunes now and getting this album!