I’ve had mixed feelings about Gentle Love’s Prescription for Sleep albums in the past; the arrangements were rather pleasant, but I found the use of different source material for every track to be jarring. The style of music was consistent, sure, but the way each track would put me in a different headspace proved counterintuitive to the intended relaxing nature of the albums. As a result, when I learned that their latest album would focus exclusively on Hiroki Kikuta’s Secret of Mana OST, I became much more interested.
In that way, I may have set my expectations a little high. Secret of Mana was very dear to me at a formative age, and the music still brings with it memories of a time that I’ve otherwise forgotten. I had a clear, personal vision of what I wanted from an album entitled “Lullabies of Mana,” especially considering my previous exposure to Gentle Love’s arrangements. Even as I worried that I had overhyped myself, the album thoroughly enchanted me with its peaceful meandering.
I was surprised at how successful the arrangements were utilizing only a piano and saxophone combo, although the expert application of ambient sound in “Memories of Mana” makes me wish they would have made use of it elsewhere as well. The track selection also left nothing to be desired, even if I’m dubious as to the use of “The Color of the Summer Sky.” It was remarkable, after listening, how satisfying and complete this homage felt.
Perhaps most valuable to me is the way the music encourages you to adapt to its pace. Aside from a few bars of excited saxophone, I found my experience to be very meditative, even when the piano tries to steal the show with some excellent accidentals. In a world of overexposure and instant gratification, it’s wonderful to be reminded in such a pleasant way to slow down sometimes.