Game Music, Reviews

The Music of Prescription For Sleep, Featuring GEM Impact (Review)

August 19, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook The Music of Prescription For Sleep, Featuring GEM Impact (Review)on Twitter

It’s like Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” but without all the creepy undertones of death and darkness. It was in March of this year that the iTunes / iPhone App Prescription for Sleep was released. The App, published by Mission One, features “soothing visuals and accompanying melodies composed by Norihiko Hibino and performed by a small ensemble of live players.” The press release goes on to say that “Each piece has been meticulously crafted to aid in sleep, with a measured pace and inaudible frequencies that replicate sounds heard in nature.”

Most surprising is that, in Japan, this App rose to the #2 spot for Apps in the “health and fitness” category. But really, all it is are some pretty images and about 20 minutes of music (spread across four musical pieces). For $2.99, it’s worth the price for the music alone. Attempting to use it as an alternative sleep aid, that’s your choice. I will say that it didn’t work on my kids; they slept better to recorded children’s nursery rhymes. After the jump, you can check out my thoughts on the four pieces GEM Impact put together for this special little App.

Prescription for Sleep features four songs. They are entitled “crescent moon,” “HIKARI,” “prayer for asia,” and “body healing.” If the track titles themselves made you raise an eyebrow, let me explain. “New age” or “relaxing” music has its own genre label in Japan. They call it “healing” music. It’s a pretty big genre of music over there, though I only first heard the term when Falcom released “Ys Healing.” This also explained the meaning behind the two “Potion” albums in the Final Fantasy series. Those compilation albums all featured the softer sort of music that one would describe as “healing” music.

In the official press release, Hibino himself is quoted as follows: “I have been interested in the therapeutic applications of music for quite some time now.” His background in jazz, and his ability to craft the most subtle tunes with a standard acoustic jazz setup (guitar, bass, light percussion, flute and saxophone), make him an all-star candidate for delving into the world of “healing.” Between this and his cover album “Gentle Love,” there’s no question that GEM Impact could go ahead and make a full career out of this specific type of music, should they wish it.

The music tends to sound, at times, like the “Piano and Strings” arrangements that Hibino has been doing in conjunction with Yuzo Koshiro. And, though it’s always soft, there are times when the mood is lifted and the tempo is accelerated. For example, in “HIKARI,” there is a swell of notes and patterns about 90 seconds into the track. And the improvisations of the flutist, Minako Taklamakan, bring a lot of credibility to the “healing” label slapped onto these four songs.

But here’s the big question: does it work? In a word, yes. And it isn’t just for relaxing: it’s definitely for sleeping. I’m currently listening to this album, writing this review, at my desk job. It’s a dangerous affair, believe me. There’s nothing I’d like more than to go back to bed. Nevermind the fact that this is how I feel almost every morning. The feeling is especially strong today, and I think this music is to blame. The final piece, “body healing,” really takes it out of me. I’ve actually yawned a few times while listening to this one.

And there’s the big irony. Most artists would be disappointed, and possibly offended, if you yawned while taking in their art. But in this case, yawning is the goal; in this sense, it’s a win for GEM Impact. There’s plenty of “ambient noise” music you can buy to help you sleep, but few manage to get the job done with a proper jazz ensemble.

I’ve heard some talk about these four tracks being released separately on iTunes. However, I have to say, for only three dollars, you may as well just grab the Prescription for Sleep application in its present form. Give it a try before you go to bed and see what you think. It should prove to be an interesting experience. Now if you don’t mind, I have to go get some sleep… at my desk…

[Full disclosure: Jayson Napolitano, Editor-in-Chief of OSV, has received compensation from GEM Impact for publicity work]

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