01 - Near and Far
02 - Memory of a Rainy Day
03 - Dazzling
04 - Thank you Boy ~ Profile of Summer
05 - When Will the Rain End?
06 - Because You Become a Star
07 - From This Distant Sky
08 - Imitation
09 - Tears Trapped in Sand
10 - A Cold Sun
11 - Two Hearts
12 - breath
Memories Off Piano Collection Part 1 is exactly as it sounds; it's songs from various Memories Off games played on piano. If there is any series whose music would lend itself well to a piano collection soundtrack, it's Memories Off. Series composer Takeshi Abo is fond of piano pieces and key characters throughout the series are skilled piano players. The songs on this soundtrack were arranged by Yuki Murakami and composed by Chiyomaru Shikura, Toshimichi Isoe, and Kanji Saito. Chiyomaru Shikura and Kanji Saito along with Yuki Murakami also worked on the Piano Collections Part 2 soundtrack which contained many songs from the OVA anime series as well as the games.
Because I have not played that many Memories Off games or listened to all of the soundtracks (the amount of Memories Off soundtracks and drama CDs out there is staggering) I did not recognize most of the songs on this CD. That's alright though, because the CD is enjoyable anyway and the songs all fit wonderfully within the Memories Off mythos. Even if you have no familiarity with the Memories Off series, the CD is simply a collection of wonderful piano pieces. The sound quality is terrific. The production sounds smooth and clear, but still very organic.
The first song, "Near and Far," came out strong and left me with a very good first impression. It was powerful, emotional, and had a terrific melody. It captured the dichotomy of sadness and hope that I've seen in the Memories Off games I've played. At almost seven minutes, it's the longest track in the game and it never once got boring. It was a gutsy move to put the longest track as the opener, but it worked here. Although all the songs on this CD were good, "Near and Far" was easily my favorite.
The other tracks on this CD are around 5-6 minutes and capture the various moods of Memories Off. "Memory of a Rainy Day" is a joyful track showing that happy memories can be made during rainy days (which is what happens in some Memories Off games.) "Dazzle" reminded me of the ebullient sun coming out after a rainy day; a visual theme that is not uncommon in various Memories Off scenarios. "Thank You Boy ~ Profile of Summer" had a nice blend of jazz and J-pop style chordings. "When Will the Rain End?" sounded like a person anxiously waiting by the window for the rain to end. "Because You Become a Star" was a delicate sounding piece that gradually becomes fuller as it progresses. "From This Distant Sky" was definitely a moonlight stargazing type piece that reminded me of many scenes in the games set under the moon and stars. "Imitation" captured the many emotions that go through one's head as they set about confessing their feelings of love. After a bunch of slower pieces, the more jaunty "Tears Trapped in Sand" was nice to hear. "A Cold Sun" made no apologies about being a sad piece, though in Memories Off fashion, there was hope in there too. Where would Memories Off be without love themes? "Two Hearts" was most certainly a love theme, and a tears of joy one at that. "Breath" was a great way to end this soundtrack, as it was a lighter and airier piece than the others, though not without some oomph. It's one I could definitely see as an ending theme.
It's no secret that I really enjoyed this soundtrack. Every song had great melodies and never once got boring or long in the tooth. The compositions, the arrangements, and the playing were all very strong and confident. Even though I enjoy Takeshi Abo's compositions, I wonder what the music in a Memories Off game would be like with this team at the helm. The music presented here is very good; in my opinion better than many of the compositions used in the games proper. Memories Off Piano Collections Part 1 gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me because not only does the music work well in the context of the series, but it's excellent music that can stand up on its own and be enjoyed by anyone who likes melodic piano compositions.
Reviewed by: Neal Chandran