Game Music, Reviews

GENTLE LOVE In Disguise: Precription for Sleep Vol. 2 (Review)

August 5, 2011 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook GENTLE LOVE In Disguise: Precription for Sleep Vol. 2 (Review)on Twitter

Remember a few months back when we announced that Norihiko Hibino had formed a new unit called GENTLE LOVE? Yeah, not the album series featuring Hibino on sax performing Japanese, Chinese, and American standards, but a duo featuring Hibino on sax and pianist Ayaki Saito performing relaxing and therapeutic music.

As it turns out, Hibino Sound Therapy Lab, the company behind the iPhone/iPod Touch app Prescription for Sleep (which came packaged with a music CD in certain regions that Patrick reviewed some years back) has published a second volume, but rather than featuring Hibino on his own, the album is actually GENTLE LOVE’s debut.

So, how does the duo perform, and do their collaborative efforts live up to the Prescription for Sleep name? Find out in our review.

The album features only 7 tracks, but they’re quite lengthy, totaling over 40 minutes of new music. The tracks are all composed by Norihiko Hibino and performed by GENTLE LOVE (although the duo’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the album) with the exception of the final track, which you’ll recognize as “Amazing Grace.”

In terms of the individual tracks, you’re not going to really remember much, as the tracks sort of meander about without much structure or recurring melodies that allow you to recall them afterwards. There’s a heavy layer of reverb on Hibino’s saxophone work, giving it that seductive quality, but not so much in a sexy way as much as a dreamy way, luring you to sleep. Saito’s piano work acts as a rhythmic element to keep a sense of time and also ventures into some melodic territory from time to time.

In that sense, the album works wonders. I’ve been listening to it the last few nights to sleep, and it provides a perfect backdrop, letting the stresses of the day melt away behind you. The tracks are always warm and embracing, and even the track titles are brimming with positive energy. Take the contemplative “Faithfulness” or the friendly “Hospitality,” for example, the latter of which acts as the album opener and is probably my favorite track on the album. “Patience” is appropriately contemplative, while the arrangement of “Amazing Grace” is both beautiful and cool. It’s actually a piano solo without Hibino’s sax work, and features some fancy work on the keys by Saito.

I suppose this actually could be the only complaint I’d have about the album. “Amazing Grace” gets a little intense in that it gets much louder compared to the rest of the tracks on the album, which may be a little jarring if you haven’t quite fallen asleep yet. Or if you’re just relaxing to the music, you’ll likely take notice of the increased volume and become aware of the music, which I don’t think was intended. Still, it’s a minor gripe given that the heavier portion of the track is less than a minute long.

In any case, Prescription for Sleep Vol. 2 provides a nice addition to the Hibino Sound Therapy Lab library while also introducing us to GENTLE LOVE. While I know a lot of fans of Hibino’s work likely won’t care about GENTLE LOVE or the work he’s doing with Hibino Sound Therapy Lab, I appreciate it, and this will definitely be on heavy rotation on my sleep playlist.

The album comes in a simple single-fold cardboard sleeve with text in Japanese and English, and I really dig the blue and white color scheme. There’s also a description of the science behind what Hibino is trying to accomplish with the therapeutic application of music. In terms of availability, the album is being distributed throughout Asia alongside the Rilax ZZZ sleep supplement.  There are not current plans for a separate release, but we’ll let you know if we hear anything otherwise.

What do you think of Hibino’s work with Hibino Sound Therapy Lab and his new collaboration as the unit GENTLE LOVE? Would you be interested in picking up the album if it were widely available?

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