Japanese, Reviews

An Album Sequel With Originality: Gentle Love 2 (Review)

August 30, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook An Album Sequel With Originality: Gentle Love 2 (Review)on Twitter

Since the time he helped form GEM Impact, Norihiko Hibino has explored a lot of different territory. But, a familiar place for him to go is always jazz. As a trained saxophonist, Hibino always does well in this realm.

Last year, Hibino released “Gentle Love,” which featured a jazz group (with Hibino on sax) covering a variety of American, Japanese, and Canto jazz/contemporary standards. This time around, for Gentle Love 2, Hibino comes to the scene with twelve original pieces. Can the Metal Gear Solid composer show his softer side in this original album? Find out after the jump!

Gentle Tracklist Surprise!

01 Wonderful Future
02 Prescription For Love
03 Forgiving
04 New Life
05 Gentle Love
06 Talk By The Ear
07 Small Hand
08 Sunset Cruise
09 Recovery
10 A Love of Warmth
11 Always There Is a Path
12 Death For Me

The track titles themselves give away that this won’t be a very “hard” jazz album. Expect no bebop. Expect slow tempos. Expect radio-friendly smooth jazz. But don’t excuse it for those reasons, even if you believe this style of music doesn’t jive well with you.

Because, while the tempos may be slow and the album soft, the fact that these are original Norihiko Hibino compositions, and that Hibino himself is on sax with his close friends and colleagues on piano, strings, and percussion, a difference can be noted. A difference of soul, and of professionalism.

A quick “compatibility test” would go like this: did you enjoy the “Piano and String” arrange albums for Sekaiju no MeiQ I&II or 7th Dragon? If so, you are likely to enjoy this album. Gentle Love 2 may be softer than those albums, but it still has heart, and I suspect that will go a long way for a lot of listeners.

As for this listener: what can I say? I very much enjoy it. My only complaint would be that I have a hard time identifying any one track based on melody. It all blends together into one nice experience. But I couldn’t sing the melody to, say, “Talk By The Ear” to you. But perhaps this is a nitpick not worth making. As part of the “Hibino Sound Therapy Lab” recordings, it is designed to help you relax; it is not necessarily designed to stick in your head and have you singing along.

For each and every song, however, I will say my favorite parts are the ad lib / solo sections, as compared to the standard melodic portion. “Small Hand,” for example, shows Hibino doing some of his best solo work, and the pianist keeps in step the whole way.

Feel free to weigh in with your own comments. Are you only interested in Hibino’s game music, or do you think you’d enjoy his work with a jazz trio doing original music? Would you rather have tense atmospheric music (like in MGS) or some calming, smooth jazz?

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