Kenley Kristofferson


Tag: yoko kanno

VGM Wednesday – “Fiddler’s Green” from Uncharted Waters, Special Edition

“Fiddler’s Green” from Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, by Yoko Kanno
Arrangement from the album “Uncharted Waters: Special Edition”.

I write this from the seafaring island of Cape Breton on the Canadian eastern shore.  My wife and I are on our honeymoon until the end of the month and we’ve been spending our two weeks here frolicking through the long grass, eating seafood, touring the rolling hills and valleys and listening to some killer East Coast fiddle music in pubs throughout the island.  Life is good 🙂

The fiddle is a really big deal here on the island, it’s as though everyone plays it and knows all of the tunes.  I know that’s not really true, but when you go to a jam session and there are six fiddlers getting in the circle, calling out tunes and shredding up a storm, it sure seems like it.  It’s culture in the truest sense.  It’s not manufactured for tourists and there aren’t parties planned to make a summer schedule, it’s simply what the people do and we get to be part of it.

For this week’s VGM Wednesday, I decided to pick a fiddle tune from a reasonably obscure game.  I’ve presented another tune from this game called “Close to Home” a few months back, but in keeping with the spirit of “VGM-inspired tunes” this August, I chose an arrangement.

The arrangement album, “Uncharted Waters: Special Edition,” is really the definitive way to listen to this soundtrack.  The OST feels limited in what the SNES and Genesis/Megadrive can do, but this disc is a real tour-de-force of the music that exists inside the score.

It maintains the head of the tune with fiddle and guitar, then goes into the feel of a jazz-feel solo section.  The violin and guitar call-and-response harkens back to the time of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and it’s really fitting for the pub feel of the tune (which is where the music plays in the game).

At 2:31, the guitarist sounds like he’s quoting “Jingle Bells” (though, of course, he’s not) and plays the wrong third of the chord and it drives me bananas every time.

Anyway, enjoy!

PS: The photo in the picture is from a jam session at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, NS, which is on the island and about a 30 minute drive from our cottage.

VGM Wednesdays – “Close to Home” from Uncharted Waters: New Horizons

“Close to Home” from Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, by Yoko Kanno and released in 1994.

I covered this game in my podcast a few years ago and I penned as “one of the best scores you’ve never heard” because the game achieved so little success in North America and Europe.  In Asia, the Uncharted Waters franchise did okay – it wasn’s Mario or Dragon Quest, but it held its own.

The game takes place in 1522, the age of exploration, and the essence is really to build alliances and move six different episodes to their conclusion via the collection of precious goods (via trading or discovery) and the defeat of your enemies.  Unless you like games of accumulation or slow-building games, this game may not be for you.

The real gem of this game is that the score is composed by Yoko Kanno, of Cowboy Bebop and the Seatbelts acclaim.  Okay fine, she also scored the hugely popular Macross: Plus, Ghost in the Shell (Standalone Complex), Vision of Escaflowne and a whole slough of other enormous anime titles.

The tune that I selected from her is the ending of the game, when the ship finds its way back to the home port.  I feel so many emotions when I hear this: Peace, calm, regret, finality… There’s almost that sense like at the end of Lord of the Rings when the hobbits find their way back to the Shire, but they’re different.  Nothing has changed back home, yet everything has changed.

But there’s still a peace, though.  The journey is done.

But there are still elements of our hometown that haven’t changed as though the citizens hadn’t realized that there was even a problem.  They just went about their daily lives.

What do you think? Post your thoughts and let’s have a talk about it 🙂


PS: Speaking of LOTR, Annie Lennox’s “Into the West” is one of the few songs that make me tear up every single time I hear it… and I love it for that.  The ships have come to carry you home… ah, music 🙂