This one's for the fans
If there is one type of album I love, it's the type in which you don't know what genre or style will pop up next. Random Encounter's Big Blue LP definitely sets high marks in that category due to the nature of the album. RE has split up, like inept teens in a horror movie, to go it alone through a variety of both obscure and classic video game themes as chosen by their fans/possible tormentors?.
The Big Blue LP is a thank you to their fans, which makes this gift of music a great album to discuss for my Christmas Day review. I should be thanking RE's fans as well, since they chose a feast of classic VGM for the band to feast upon, giving RE's members the chance to show off their respective musical leanings.
The album kicks off with a kick in the face thanks to Kit's intense heavy metal rendition of the Trigun theme. Unfortunately Trigun never got a video game (it almost did, but then it did not), so moving on. As immediately as the second track, Careless tips the genre needle in the complete opposite direction with his warm, lively, millenial fair appropriate cover of Delightful Spekkio from Chrono Trigger. This is followed by Konami's arrangement of Lively Town from Shining Force II. I have never had the pleasure of playing the second shining force, but I love this track for the Mario Sunshine / Koopa Beach style island vibes.
The stand out track for me was definitely Careless' "Faxanadu." I have never played the game, but have heard the classic music many times, yet I always forget how damn good it is. This piano led adventure of a song rolls quickly forward, with the surrounding instruments lending a haunting tone throughout. I'm glad this song was requested, since this excellent cover is a great reminder of how great Jun Chikuma's game music is.
To close the album, Random Encounter stop futzing around in their dinozords and combine into the Megazord that everyone knows they must. In doing so, the group drops a boss level beast of a rendition of "Clash at the Big Bridge" from Final Fantasy V. In this humble VGM enthusiasts opinion, Clash at the Big Bridge is the best Final Fantasy track ever made, not just in FFV, but all the FFs, that's right, even the spinoffs. Random Encounter nails the spacey intro before tearing into the meat of the song at an intense pace. Unfortunately the song is over before you know it, as Random Encounter apparently decided to make this track a scant two minutes, instead of a reasonable thirty minutes like the extended mix of the Uematsu original I'm listening to on Youtube as I write this.
Though I was saddened to no longer have my face rocked by the sounds of FFV, I was quickly cheered up by the album's title track, and another top ten VGM track, Big Blue. Random Encounter takes an all out approach to both tracks, though Big Blue feels more enthralling, and stands out from other covers due to the ceaseless jumping between instruments and riffs that pull the listener in.
The final tracks have got me prepped for the next full album from Random Encounter, although, I also wouldn't mind the RE do like the Wu and split off into a bunch of solo albums before reuniting. Enough talk of the future though, you can download Random Encounter's latest album right now, for free, on the Big Blue album Bandcamp page.