Game Music, Reviews

It’s Not Perverted, It’s Love: Hiroki Kikuta’s Love Relaxation Album (Review)

April 15, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook It’s Not Perverted, It’s Love: Hiroki Kikuta’s Love Relaxation Album (Review)on Twitter

After playing the hentai games that Kikuta sent us, here we are with the actual soundtrack albums. Love Relaxation is actually the Sakura Relaxation soundtrack, given this new name for reasons unknown. But no matter what Kikuta wants to call it, it doesn’t change the fact that this is good stuff!

This album in particular is significant as Sakura Relaxation marked Kikuta’s return to game music after a five-or-so year hiatus marked by canceled games and the closing of his development studio. Most people were right at home with the Sakura Relaxation, as it most closely resembles his work Seiken Densetsu 2 with its playful melodies and whimsical atmosphere.

Read our review of the Love Relaxation after the jump.

This loving relationship begins with a beautiful guitar melody in “Cherry Blossoms-Colored Feeling (If I Told You How I Felt),” with vocals by Kaoru Kano. Considering how cheery Kikuta’s melodies typically are, I would have never thought that vocals would make anything but a cheesy accompaniment, but they work surprisingly well. The pervasive happiness is reemphasized with tracks like “Following the Wild Rabbit,” which sounds uncannily similar to Seiken Densetsu 2’s “Color of the Summer Sky” with its ascending marimba progression, and others like “The Girl Who Touched the Sky” with its funky bassline and “30 Days Hath September” that matches piano with electronic drums with strange results.

That’s not all that Kikuta has up his sleeve, however. The strangeness continues with the quirky melody found in “Lovers.” The track has so many competing elements that you can’t help but be amused. “Sleeping Dog” is another strange one with repetitive marimba lines and this killer synthesized brass instrument that screams out defiantly. Offering up a taste of trip-hop, “Afterimage” will once again have you thinking Seiken Densetsu 2… but I can’t place my finger on which track it reminds me of.

Finally it’s time to take a break. “Wings of Night” is a contemplative track with rich and deliberate piano chords that make quite an impact that are also accented by angelic pads. “A Gentle Moon” takes a similar approach, but swaps out the pads for an organ and throws in some beefy percussion for good measure. Layered acoustic guitars are the star of the poppy “Days of Grass, Days of Straw,” which is both soothing and catchy at the same time. I also enjoyed the ambient pads featured in “On the Shores of Peaceful Water,” which acts as one of the last tracks on the album.

Towards the end of the album, Kaoru Kano returns for “When the Cherry Blossoms Fall.” She is first accompanied by solo piano before bass and percussion are slowly worked into the mix. This is truly another impressive effort from Kikuta as he’s able to restrain himself from going what I’m going to call “wacky happy” like many of the other tracks on this album.

It’s unfortunate that despite Kikuta operating his own label, Nostrilia, it’s very difficult to get access to his music. Hopefully that will change in the near future, as Love Relaxation and many of his more recent albums should be quite pleasing to his fans. His most recent series features the most unimaginative artwork you can imagine, but I do enjoy the bold colors and sturdy jewel case. I recommend checking this one out if you can find it.

Have you been following Kikuta’s latest work? Do you have an opinion one way or the other about his foray into the hentai game market?

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