Join ZREO and sail away with the music of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in our Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review!
Over two decades ago, Zelda fans set off on a journey unlike any other, leaving the humble beginnings of Outset Island and exploring the vast seas beyond. I’m of course talking about The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the whimsical cel-shaded adventure that was our first introduction to Toon Link and an iconic cast of characters. And like any Zelda game, one of the defining features of The Wind Waker was its music.
A collaborative effort composed by Koji Kondo, Hajime Wakai, Kenta Nagata, and Toru Minegishi, the soundtrack is a masterful blend of classic inspiration and gorgeous new themes perfectly capturing the spirit of adventure that defines the game. From the sweeping, epic tracks that play during its most intense moments on the high seas to the gentle, peaceful melodies that accompany Link’s exploration of the game’s vast world, the music of The Wind Waker is an integral part of the game’s overall experience.
Returning to re-explore the GameCube classic and its beloved music, a new orchestral album from ZREO: Second Quest (formerly Zelda Reorchestrated, the creative team behind Twilight Symphony) celebrates the music of The Wind Waker in their phenomenal tribute: Fair Winds & Following Seas ft. ATLYS. You can now listen to and purchase the full album via the ZREO: Second Quest Bandcamp!
This gorgeous album features compositions, arrangements and performances by a suite of talented musicians, showcasing the depth and beauty of Wind Waker’s music. With lush orchestral arrangements and stunning string performances, this album is a must-listen for any fan of The Wind Waker wanting to embark on a musical adventure. So join us for a true celebration of the adventurous spirit that defines The Wind Waker and the music that brings that spirit to life in our Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review.
You can also pre-order a physical copy, limited to only 500!
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 1: Title Theme
Like Link’s adventure, ZREO’s rendition of the “Title Theme” begins with a gentle, uplifting melody played on woodwind, accompanied by soft and traditional percussion. Resembling waves lapping at the shore, this opening section is reminiscent of a calm, peaceful sea, setting the stage for the game’s oceanic setting. The melody gradually builds in intensity, with the addition of strings, guitar, and my personal favourite, a charming touch of accordion, building the excitement that awaits Link and listeners on this musical journey.
As the track progresses, it becomes more complex and layered, with the introduction of new instruments and strings performed by the stunning ATLYS quartet, giving the music a flourish that rises like the tide. The melody becomes more robust and powerful, before gently coming to an end. This arrangement really is a masterful rendition of the beloved piece of video game music, perfectly setting the scene.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 2: The Legendary Hero
Just as it does in the game, “The Legendary Hero” begins with a slow, solemn melody played on harpsichord and ocarina, accompanied by the haunting sounds of a cello as the music slowly builds. ZREO’s opening section creates a sense of foreboding and captures the tone for the epic tale that is about to unfold.
As the track progresses, the tempo gradually picks up, with the introduction of ATLYS and their powerful and emotive strings. The music then shifts to a more reflective section, with a gentler melody played on solo violin. This section creates a sense of quiet contemplation, with a beautiful performance from ATLYS to perfectly accompany the legendary tale of the game’s hero, creating a sense of excitement, danger, and triumph.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 3: Outset Island
“Outset Island” is a delightful and memorable track from The Wind Waker – arguably my favourite of the lot. Its gentle and whimsical composition creates a carefree sense of homeliness, reflecting the idyllic setting of the game’s starting area. ZREO perfectly captures this in their arrangement, with a light and playful, evoking a sense of innocence and childlike wonder for our toon protagonist.
The main melody is repeated several times throughout the piece, each time with additions to the instrumentation. This repetition gives the music a sense of familiarity and comfort, reinforcing the homely atmosphere of the game’s starting area. The percussion is also light and playful, with a generous helping of plucked strings, adding to the carefree nature of the music. ZREO really do manage to create a carefree and homely atmosphere that is both comforting and inviting to listen to.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 4: Grandma
Go ahead an grab some tissues, because “Grandma” is without a doubt one of the most emotive songs in the entire Legend of Zelda series. As Link says goodbye to his beloved Granny and sets off to sail the seas, this soft yet heart-wrenching melody draws forth deep emotions even just an hour into the game. And this rendition amplifies this emotion in what is a truly beautiful performance.
Combining the layered and emotive strings of the ATLYS quartet, the real star of the show is the stunning clarinet that carries the melody (forgive me if it’s actually an oboe). This instrument feels and sounds like Link’s Grandma herself, as she sees off her grandson at the shore. The duet of woodwind that builds throughout the track is a beautiful performance that’s bound to have you holding back a tear or two.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 5: Departure & Pirates
Adventure! Pirates! Excitement! There really couldn’t be more contrast between two tracks, going from the tear-jerker to this triumphant and epic piece with “Departure & Pirates”. This arrangement is actually two completely separate songs combined into one, opening with “Departure” and the beginning of Link’s delightful journey with a HUGE orchestral sound and choir.
It cleverly morphs into “Pirates“, the playful and silly track that captures the sound of sea-faring scoundrels. Departing from the sweeping strings, the song is dominated by brass and woodwind, with a beat that rocks back and forth like a pirate ship upon the waves. This particular arrangement even has a circus-like charm to it, especially with its trombone, muted trumpet, and occasional slide whistle.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 6: The Great Sea
The musical centrepiece of Wind Waker and Fair Winds & Following Seas could be none other than “The Great Sea“, arguably the main theme of the game despite being the game’s “field” track. As the sun rises and day breaks, so too does The Great Sea, with a slow pace that gently lifts before swelling into the epic piece we all know and love. Introducing a suite of instruments to capture the sense of adventure, the orchestra builds toward a grand scale.
This arrangement truly does rise and fall like the sea itself, with moments of calm and stillness giving way to sudden bursts of excitement and adventure. ZREO’s orchestral music ebbs and flows in volume, rising and falling like the waves themselves. Such an engaging performance gives the music a sense of movement and momentum, creating a feeling of anticipation and excitement as the listener sails ever further into the unknown.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 7: Windfall Island
“Windfall Island” is the album’s most vibrant and cheerful track, representing through music the essence of a lively island village and its colourful inhabitants. This particular arrangement exudes an upbeat and delightful charm, perfectly matching the carefree atmosphere of the game’s Windfall Island. The melody is bouncy and upbeat, capturing the lively and bustling energy of the island’s residents as they go about their daily routines.
As the songs progresses, additional layers of instrumentation are added, including strings, brass, and simple percussion, giving the composition a fuller and more dynamic sound. Carrying the melody, a single ocarina can be heard throughout most of the track, with ATLYS’ bright strings enriching the sound. Where the original composition of Windfall Island is quite simple, ZREO’s rendition is detailed and feels richer and warmer than ever before.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 8: Dragon Roost Island
“Dragon Roost Island” will forever be a fan favourite as one of the most memorable tracks from the entire soundtrack of The Wind Waker. And of course ZREO had to do it justice! Beginning with a simple base of plucked strings, rhythmic percussion and mandolin, the track really comes alive once the panpipes enter. Its simple beat soon builds into an energetic Flamenco-inspired track before picking up even further in intensity.
Most listeners will know Dragon Roost Island as a primarily acoustic track, however that’s not the case in ZREO’s arrangement. This is a flawless blend of brass, orchestra, solo guitar and violin, string quartet – a real mixing pot of musical genres. And yet it all works incredibly well! While it does have a significantly different feel to its source, its powerful sound interwoven with elements of the original track is an exciting new way for listeners to enjoy a classic favourite.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 9: Princess Zelda’s Theme
Repeated throughout the series as a staple, “Princess Zelda’s Theme” is the iconic musical representation of our beloved Hylian Heroine, who in Wind Waker takes upon the guide of the pirate captain, Tetra. This performance is driven forward by the ATLYS string quartet, with a combination of pizzicato and sweeping harmonies to represent the softer side as Tetra reveals her true self.
Where the first half of the track will sound quite familiar, sticking the roots of the melody that we all know, the second half becomes quite interpretive, as ATLYS make this song their very own. There are moments where you may not even recognise this as Zelda’s theme, before the song weaves in elements and motifs that we’ve heard many times before. It may be an acquired taste for Zelda fanatics before you’re able to fully appreciate this arrangement.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 10: Ganondorf Battle
Every hero needs a villain, and who could be more iconic than the Gerudo mystic and puppet master himself, Ganondorf. Those who have played The Wind Waker will forever be reminded of the unforgettable final battle sequence, with its intense “Ganondorf Battle” theme to match the final showdown. ZREO’s arrangement draws upon more than just Wind Waker, as they bring in a powerful male choir and church organ that harkens back to Ganondorf’s theme from Ocarina of Time.
The longer you listen, the more intense this track becomes. Adding blaring brass, hurried percussion conveying a sense of urgency and anxiety, and ominous strings, listening to this arrangement genuinely does feel as if you’re in the midst of the game’s final fight, clashing swords with Ganon. With the addition of distorted electric violin and a drumkit during the climax of the track, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a Zelda-inspired symphonic metal piece. Truly as monumental as the final boss fight itself.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 11: Farewell Hyrule King
The calm after the storm… As the final boss fight finishes, the quiet and contemplative “Farewell Hyrule King” begins. Another Zelda classic that we first heard all the way back in The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, ZREO’s performance centres around its beautiful piano. This slow and solemn composition that captures the sense of loss and mourning felt by the people of the kingdom in the wake of their ruler’s demise.
Many Zelda tracks, even those in arrangement albums, genuinely do feel as if they’ve been adapted from a videogame. This track, however, feels far more classical inspired, with the haunting melody morphed into a stunning piano concerto. This piece echoes the piano concertos of Rachmaninoff, featuring huge chords accompanied and amplified by its string accompaniment. Such a commanding and dramatic sound feels right at home in a concert hall, whilst perfectly adapting music from The Wind Waker into a more classical style.
Fair Winds & Following Seas Album Review – Track 12: Staff Credits & Epilogue
As Link’s adventure ends, he returns right back where he started, with “Staff Credits & Epilogue” beginning with a variation on the bright and uplifting Title Theme that played as the very beginning of the album. This time the track adds a more triumphant tone, with more detailed instrumentation that incorporates elements from other songs from across the game. Conveying a sense of closure to the final chapter in the Wind Waker story, ZREO takes us home once again to Outset Island.
Wrapping up the album, this final track delivers a sense of achievement and accomplishment felt by the player upon completing the game for the very first time. The music builds to a grand crescendo, becoming more and more pronounced and the instrumentation becoming more and more complex before finally wrapping up with a stunning choir that harkens back to the musical legacy of the series. A perfect finale.
Zelda Reorchestrated are well known for their celebration and tribute to the beloved music of The Legend of Zelda, and that couldn’t be more the case in their triumphant return as ZREO: Second Quest. Their superb orchestral arrangements throughout Fair Winds & Following Seas alongside emotive and powerful performances from the ATLYS string quartet craft one of the most impressive videogame albums to date. This is essential listening for any Zelda fan who yearns to adventure on The Great Sea once again.
A preview of the album was kindly provided by ZREO: Second Quest for the purpose of our Fair Winds & Following Seas album review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our game music content like our Five Iconic Female Game Music Composers and join the Qualbert Discord to chat all things game music!