Well, I don't want to derail this topic further, but I don't want to not reply and be called arrogant for the wrong reasons again either. But if there is anything you want to discuss further, probably best to do it in a separate thread.
I LIKE Motoaki Furukawa...at least, the couple of tracks he did for that Metal Gear Solid Snake album were good...but I've really yet to get in touch with ANY of his other works...any recommendations there? Anyone?
I like his collaborate shooter works, which were all pre-1992. Stuff like Gradius II, Xexex, A-Jax, and Super Contra. I should check out his score to Policenauts some time too. I did a big bio on Furukawa that should tell you most there is to know about his career. He's actually done very little game scoring post-1992.
...Overall, I'd say [Ito] is a pretty average composer in terms of melodies, stylistic range, and musicality. No Uematsu or Sakimoto, but no Ishimoto or Furukawa either.
*Sigh* More Uematsu & Sakimoto praise, eh? Granted, I do like both composers, but as far as I'm concerned, I haven't heard anything memorable from either artist in about 2-3 years, maybe more.
Well, I kinda agree with you that both composers haven't been that remarkable lately. However, I consider Uematsu a prime example of a master melodist (at least pre-2001) and Sakimoto an example of a more artistically challenging composer (at least pre-2007).
Odin Sphere (2007/2008) was probably the last Sakimoto/Basiscape score I gave a damn about, and Anata o Yurusunai / I Can't Forgive You wasn't composed entirely by Uematsu, either.
Odin Sphere is a great score, I agree, but not in my opinion because of Sakimoto. These days I follow the major Basiscape collaborative scores closely, but I feel Sakimoto has slipped off. I liked him before as he always did unusual unconventional things with his phrasing, instrumentation, etc. and made sure each of his works were different. These days, though most things just seems like pale imitations of his past works made on limited time. Valkyria Chronicles and his anime scores were certainly "solid" though.
Anyone want to give me any recommendations on those fronts, go right ahead...I've already checked out Blue Dragon (Meh) Lost Odyssey (Ehh...) and Lord of Vermillion (Okay, that last one kicks ass, I'll give you that...)
I think you've checked out most there is to find. Guin Saga looks like a promising score though. I'm personally fond of Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey though. The former as a light-hearted retro effort, the latter more as a personal emotional score. The ideas can be sparing in places, some pieces in contrast feel underarranged, and the technology needs work. But I still think these scores capture the essence of Uematsu.
We complain about IShimoto on these forums enough, but is he even still making music...?
If you check out SEMO's liner notes, you'll see he's actually Tetsuya Nomura's favourite composer and the busiest composer at Square Enix. He's got at least two projects on the go, Denzel's anime and Agito XIII. Add that to Dissidia, Crisis Core, The World Ends With You, Last Order, Monotone, and Before Crisis and he seems pretty unstoppable. I don't think criticising him is bullying him if he is being pioneered as the future of Square Enix. I think it's fair people want to object and he gets enough praise from gamers and SQEX staff anything. And, frankly, everything I've read indicates the guy is arrogant and aggressive anyway, so I have little sympathy.
I'll say this though: The reason Ishimoto's music is so hated among much of the VGM community is probably more that he's never been trained rather than that he is untalented. He's not had a musical education, he's not had musical supervision while at Square Enix. That's very rare for a composer who gets assigned big productions and I think he's really out of his depth. He's just doing his own thing and that's probably why his music comes across so bare or underdeveloped. Maybe he'll get better though and I think some of his original compositions of late have been more promising.
Square Enix really needs to restructure its music team. After so many of their great producers and composers left, I really feel it's lost its direction. Compare this to the quality control of Sega, Capcom or Falcom, and it's very clear to me that SQEX is no longer the best.