Sometimes the simplest songs leave the largest impressions. The strengths of the No One But You soundtrack are lead composer Lemmonias’s piano pieces and AnnEXE’s guitar pieces. The rest of the soundtrack feels as if it’s stumbling in its attempt to be original.
One of the ways in which Lemmonias pursues originality is through unique combinations of instruments. However, these combinations are sometimes non-cohesive and noticeably uncomfortable to the ear. For instance, “Ribbon 2,” a variation of Megumi’s theme, features a flute, banjo, and harpsichord. This unorthodox combination is instantly jarring. This is not to say that unusual combinations of instruments are inherently taboo, but Lemmonias doesn’t complement the instruments well.
In addition to the mismatched orchestration, sometimes Lemmonias’s pieces have competing tunes: harmony and melody battling for attention rather than working together. Many instruments are too active and obtrusive to act purely as support. This creates a cacophony where my ear struggles to distinguish separate tunes rather than naturally picking up a melody.
Compare these clashing combinations and tunes with AnnEXE’s guitar pieces and Lemmonias’s simple piano or piano/violin duet pieces. This instrumentation isn’t particularly original; the creativity lies within the melodies and rhythms. These charming and moving songs are the emotional stimulants that I seek in a visual novel soundtrack.
The finishing touch on AnnEXE’s guitar pieces are their high quality sound samples. It’s hard to truly appreciate a great pianist if they play on a toy keyboard. Similarly, it’s hard to properly judge Lemmonias’s music when he uses such low-quality sound samples. Of course, I’m not asking Lemmonias to record actual musicians (like he did with piano/violin duet “At the Bridge”) for every one of his songs. Simply using a higher quality sound library, like the one used by the third composer Sebastian Skaf, would better showcase Lemmonias’s skills as a composer. Consistent quality here could have made some of the music feel more coherent.
Creativity comes in many forms. When trying to force too much creativity, the result can be convoluted in style and lose its original intent and appeal. A chocolate, artichoke, and salmon pizza is creative, but it sure isn’t tasty. In some cases, less is more, and simple is best.