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Adam Corn May 10, 2014

After what seems like a longer-than-usual delay we have our next Square Enix arranged album in the SQ series on tap for May 28 (SQEX-10434).  No track list yet, but theoretically it'll be closest in style to Cafe SQ, and that was a solid effort so I'm hopeful!

James O reports on VGMdb that a bonus disc will be included with purchases from Tower Records, HMV, Village Vanguard, Tsutaya, and Wonder Goo.  (Joe, maybe I'll be asking you to get the bonus disc for me this time. wink)

jb May 10, 2014

I haven't really been impressed by any of the SQ albums and I'm not sure this really does it for me.  They need to step out of the typical arrangements/instrumentation and make something relevant, imo.  Cure SQ was an abomination.

Adam Corn May 10, 2014

jb wrote:

They need to step out of the typical arrangements/instrumentation and make something relevant, imo.

They've gone from cafe music to chiptune to world music.  What exactly are you looking for? smile

Granted, despite the different labels many of the albums do feature in parts a similar contemporary electronic pop type of sound, but still there has been a fair amount of variety.

jb wrote:

Cure SQ was an abomination.

I forgot all about that one.  Perhaps for the better.

The_Paladin May 10, 2014

I haven't listened to most of the SQ albums, but I do have Beer and Cafe and enjoyed them as a whole.  Cure SQ, just from the samples, makes me wonder what the hell they were smoking when they decided to do the album or anyone who bought it was for that matter.  Now if it's an album as good sounding as Spinach Rag from Beer SQ, consider it ordered!

jb May 10, 2014

It's not the variety that bothers me, it's just the extreme niche they're filling with the sounds and the loose themes that the albums hold, which generally aren't held together well.  SQ Chips and Chill SQ are the only ones that are any good, imo.  Beer SQ is unique and maybe cool to listen to once but the replayability of it is awful.  It's just not something I want to listen to all the time.

It really just feels like they're trying to cash in on the remix community fad and that's not something I've ever really been interested in.  Too much trash to sift through just to find one or two gems.  I feel like that statement embodies this whole series, as well.

Adam Corn May 30, 2014

jb wrote:

Beer SQ is unique and maybe cool to listen to once but the replayability of it is awful.  It's just not something I want to listen to all the time.

That's funny, I've found Beer SQ holds up really well.  I listened to it countless times that summer it came out (it was my de facto strolling the Edogawa River music), and anytime its tracks pop up on shuffle I still enjoy them - especially Chrono Trigger "Guardia Millennial Fair" and Seiken Densetsu 3 "Can You Fly Sister?" which to me are perfect for what they are.

Granted the 40-minute length is a bit of an issue, more so since by default I skip the completely out-of-place FF Prelude closing arrangement and often the opening FF Main Theme one as well.  But quality wins out over quantity on this one for me.

Zealboy May 30, 2014

I really enjoy Beer SQ, and have from the start. 
In terms of SQ albums I have thoroughly enjoyed Beer SQ, SQ Chips (the first, but not the second!), a decent amount of Cafe SQ, and a few select tracks from Battle SQ.  I'm crossing my fingers, hoping Swing SQ can be added to that list!

Adam Corn May 30, 2014

Zealboy wrote:

In terms of SQ albums I have thoroughly enjoyed Beer SQ, SQ Chips (the first, but not the second!), a decent amount of Cafe SQ, and a few select tracks from Battle SQ.

Add Love SQ (which sounds a lot like an SQ Chips Zero, but with a few good acoustic tracks also added to the mix) and this is me exactly.

To be fair SQ Chips 2 does have a few select tracks of its own.  It's just nowhere near the overall quality of the first one.

Adam Corn Jun 26, 2014

Wow this turned out to be a big disappointment/snooze-fest.

- The best track of the album - and only one to sound like full-on swing music - is copied directly from Cafe SQ (FFVI "Johnny C Bad").
- Two out of the twelve tracks consist of a guy whistling.
- One-third of the album's arrangements are chill-out cafe-style guitar + bass + percussion pieces by RF. His Live A Live arrangement in Beer SQ worked really well as a sort of counter-programming to the other great tracks on the album, but without any such accompanying tracks in this album his arrangements don't fare as well (though they're still not bad).
- Most of the remaining arranger's tracks are chill-out acoustic pieces as well.  Again, they're not bad, but there isn't much that stands out.  (I'd say the jazz piano and percussion "Chrono Trigger ~ Yearnings of the Wind ~ Robo's Theme" is the best of the bunch.)

All in all the album is far less SQ Swing than it is Cafe SQ 2 - but entirely acoustic, much more chilled, and not nearly as good as that first album.  Misleading naming aside, the dubious album production makes it a pretty obvious cash-in.  Only SQ series die-hards who found themselves satisfied with the lesser entries in the series (think Chill SQ or More SQ) should consider it.

Disclaimer: These impressions were based on a single listen.  If they happen to change (I doubt they will in this case) I'll post an update.

Zane Jun 26, 2014

Adam Corn wrote:

- Two out of the twelve tracks consist of a guy whistling.

Totally LOL'd at this big_smile

James O Jun 26, 2014

yeah, I'll admit they could have done better with this album.  The bonus mixes are all right too but there's nothing that special about them either.

The_Paladin Jun 26, 2014

I am glad I hadn't ordered this, or I would probably feel ripped off. Listening to the samples I was surprised they were so lazy that they reused the Johnny C. Bad, and seemingly only so there was a single swing song on the album.  Some was bad, and most of the rest just sounded blah... you can only tell so much from samples, but I can safely rely that Adam's right on the money.

Pellasos Jun 26, 2014

Zane wrote:
Adam Corn wrote:

- Two out of the twelve tracks consist of a guy whistling.

Totally LOL'd at this big_smile

same.

Ramza Jul 4, 2014

jb wrote:

It's not the variety that bothers me, it's just the extreme niche they're filling with the sounds and the loose themes that the albums hold, which generally aren't held together well.  SQ Chips and Chill SQ are the only ones that are any good, imo.  Beer SQ is unique and maybe cool to listen to once but the replayability of it is awful.  It's just not something I want to listen to all the time.

It really just feels like they're trying to cash in on the remix community fad and that's not something I've ever really been interested in.  Too much trash to sift through just to find one or two gems.  I feel like that statement embodies this whole series, as well.

Agreed, they need to slow down just a tad and consider quality control. They have great ideas and I want to support them (I'd love a really GOOD swing album, for example!!)... but this one just ain't it.

Personally, the SQ albums I've kept in my collection are Battle SQ, Beer SQ, Chill SQ, SQ Chips, and SQ Chips 2. If I'm in the right mood I can enjoy any of them. The others, I only listened to digitally or sold after having first bought it.

I should also note that SE's music dept did do one other arrange album where they were just handpicking artists to do tracks that I really loved -- "echo" from NieR. I mean, I already love the OST, but that album had a handful of truly brilliant arrangements.

Finally ... if I could design and handpick my own "SQ" album, I'd make something called like "Earth SQ" or "Nature SQ" -- with an emphasis on natural ambience, as well as ethnic instrumentation (Celtic, Asian, and that Bulgarian choir stuff Mitsuda loves). Basically CREID with less electronics, and with music across the SQ audio library, with plenty of nods to obscurities like Bahamut Lagoon, Dewprism, Soukaigi, and of course LiveALive (which is becoming less obscure every day ... CMON GIVE US A REMAKE W/ LOCALIZATION ALREADY...)

Ramza

jb Jul 4, 2014

I would loathe anything Celtic/traditional Asian but that's just me tongue.  I'm actually pretty surprised they haven't done a "Healing SQ" since those kinds of albums are absurdly popular in Asian markets.  Perhaps that's just a generational thing, though?

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