Another very good effort by Nobuo Uematsu, built around several recurring themes. This is notably the first game in the series to have a proper theme song with vocals: “Eyes on Me”, which, unlike some of the later games, actually has a direct link to the storyline, as it was supposedly written by Julia for Laguna. It’s quite a lovely slow song, even if the lyrics sometimes sound a bit awkward, most likely due to having been penned by a non-native English speaker (with things like “whenever sang my songs” or “if frown is shown”). The melody reappears several times, usually to underline Squall and Rinoa’s growing attraction. The highlight would be “Waltz for the Moon”, an exquisite, faster, more formal arrangement that accompanies the famous ballroom scene. “My Mind” and “Love Grows” are both slower takes on the melody. The former is more pensive, combining twinkling chimes and nonchalant guitar strums, while the latter weaves a warm tapestry of woodwinds.
As a counterpoint to this, you have the ominous Edea/Ultimecia theme, “Succession of Witches”, heavy on harpsichord and organ, and an incantation, which is reprised with a more ritualistic beat in “Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec” (simply a letter mash of “succession of witches” and “love”), the music that plays during Edea’s parade in Deling City. The words also serve as a starting point for the dizzying, epic opening theme “Liberi Fatali” (i.e. children of fate) that accompanies the introductory cinematic. While not following the same musical theme, “The Castle”, which plays inside Ultimecia’s abode, also combines the harpsichord and organ into an ominously baroque ensemble. It actually sounds like something from a Castlevania game and is very fitting for the final dungeon.
The theme from “Balamb Garden”, the background music at the BGU, is also recurrent, even though this particular version sounds a bit like muzak. “Tell Me”, a slower, more hesitant version that fittingly accompanies Squall’s conversation with Quistis after her demotion, and “Ami” (which is French for “friend”), a more upbeat piano arrangement that plays during friendly moments between the characters, are both better versions of this particular melody.
Many other melodies on the soundtrack have a distinctly martial feel to them, which is appropriate for a game that essentially revolves around students from military schools. Highlights include “The Landing”, which makes for an exhilarating introduction to the SeeD exam, with its heartbeat-like rhythm, or the blustering “The Stage Is Set”, which accompanies the preparation of the mission to eliminate Edea.
Other good tunes include the somewhat industrial groove of “Starting Up”, which is a lot catchier than it should be, considering that it accompanies the minor episode of the Dollet communications tower. There’s also “The Oath”, which illustrates moments of heroism by Squall with an intense, earnest vibe. The slow, hypnotic daze of “Compression of Time”, which plays during a series of successive battles towards the end of the game, is another highlight. “Silence and Motion” is a bizarre melody, all beeps and whistles, oddly fitting to Esthar’s futuristic, crystalline atmosphere. There are also more humorous tunes, such as the mechanized stomping of “Residents”, which plays while clearing out unwanted alien guests onboard the Ragnarok, or the surreptitious “Timber Owls”, with its background ticking, which accompanies scenes involving the eponymous group.
On the other hand, you have “Blue Fields”, the nondescript mess which serves as the world map music, the tinny repetitiveness of “Jailed”, which plays in the D-District Prison and makes an already tedious section of the game even worse, or the discordant eponymous theme of the Lunatic Pandora. Also, depending on how well you fare at Triple Triad, you might either bop along to “Shuffle or Boogie” or grow to hate it with a passion.