Thursday, February 24, 2011

Album Review: Black Materia

Admittedly, I'm not well acquainted with rap. BUT I'm a huge fan of this album. This is the basic premise: "Mega Ran" took the soundtrack from Final Fantasy VII, remixed it, and rapped the story of the game to his new beats. It is astounding.

Now, I know what you're thinking. That's great for all you losers that have played this game, but can a normal person like me enjoy this music? First, no one is above playing Final Fantasy VII. Second, take this testimonial from someone who has never played the game:

"As it stands, I absolutely love it. It's telling this story that I'm assuming is the FFVII story in each track, and I'm captivated the whole time. And since I haven't played the game or know anything about it, perhaps that's why I feel this way. Like the old radio shows in which they'd tell stories each week. Each week a new entry in the saga, which would have people huddled around their radios each week just waiting to hear the next exciting chapter."

The beats are amazing, and Mega Ran manages to make the story compelling and poignant. He uses the original music with such innovation and skill that his work and Uematsu's come together in a perfect synthesis.

Now, I've written about how video games can be art, despite what Roger Ebert may say. But this is a new point in that argument. I believe that art begets art. Art makes us think and see things differently, so it creates more art. As Levinas would say, "Fecundity begets fecundity." (This is the premise of my brother's serial "Fanart Friday" posts on his blog.) You can see that in how Paradise Lost (and pretty much every book written in the West) is inspired by the literature of the Bible. The Tempest is a response to Faustus. Everything is a response to Shakespeare.

Black Materia does more than just retell the plot of Final Fantasy VII; it recontextualizes Final Fantasy VII. The game came out in the pre-9/11 world, and in the beginning the main character is a mercenary in a terrorist group. They go out of their way to have no casualties, but they still tackle the problem of their age by blowing up the industrial buildings of Shinra. Black Materia takes the issues and dilemmas of the game and examines them anew in this age of terror. The slums of Midgar become indistinguishable from American slums. In "Cry of the Planet," the ecological crisis and political turmoil of Gaia become that of our own.

Buy this album, it is so worth it:

1 comment:

  1. GREAT review. I love that you handled everything from the specifics of the album's greatness to the general importance of fanart. I'm linking it.