After producing and arranging the Sekaiju no MeiQ I & II Super Arrange Version and the 7th Dragon Super Arrange Version for small ensemble, Hibino noticed that this music was quite helpful for relaxation. He subsequently launched a best-selling sleep therapy application through iTunes and continues to pursue this area in further releases. Launched in Malaysia alongside a sleep supplement, the Hibino Sound Therapy Lab Sound Library features 11 tracks of music meant to help aid sleep. It was composed by Minako Takizawa, the newest addition to GEM Impact's composing team, and Norihiko Hibino. To find out more, read on!
The album opens up with Minako Takizawa's three compositions. For those who are unfamiliar with this name, she is the flautist on the 7th Dragon Super Arrange Version album. According to the GEM Impact website, she's now a member of their sound team and this marks her first GEM Impact compositional debut. I'm sure we'll hear more from her in the future. Opening the album, "Crescent Moon" is a beautiful light jazz piece with some stunning violin, piano, acoustic guitar, and flute work. I really love how the various instruments get their chance to shine in the melody line and the various musical harmonies in which they are featured. The flute, played by Takizawa herself, really helps give this composition a beautifully fleeting sound, whereas the other instruments help bring the listener back down to the ground. It's an absolutely stunning piece of music.
Her second piece, "HIKARI," keeps the same soundscape, but overall it's more pensive than the opening theme, but manages to throw in a few playful sections as well. Calming piano opens the theme and is re-introduced throughout the theme. The two stars of this piece, as expected, are the piano and the flute. The piano, as mentioned before, serves as the backbone of the piece whereas the flute elaborates on the melody as well as serving as a beautiful airy accompaniment to the piano. Violin and acoustic guitar are thrown in to add some contrast and are equally as beautiful, even if they aren't the most prominently featured instruments on the album. Lastly, "Prayer for Asia," has a much more earthy tone to it as well as providing a beautiful Asian soundscape. The piano adds somberness to the music, especially when played as an accompaniment. It's very contemplative in nature. The majority of the melody features the flute and provides a stunning, airy, and free sounding theme. While I think it is my least favorite of Takizawa's contributions to the album, it's still a stunning composition that provides a variety of musical harmonies. Minako Takizawa did a fantastic job and I truly am excited to hear her future compositions, hopefully on a few games scored by GEM Impact.
The remainder of the album features compositions by Norihiko Hibino. Whereas Takizawa's compositions were more elaborate and full in sound, Hibino's music on the album is much more peaceful, relaxed, and simple. This is not a bad thing, mind you, since it fits the purpose of the album — to help one relax and aid in sleep. "Body Healing" is a very contemplative piece that features a strong focus on piano and violin. The melody is quite calming, with a hint of sadness, yet the overall soundscape balances out with the simple, yet uplifting, sections in the piano accompaniment and flute work. It manages to throw in some chimes and some flowing water sound effects to fortify the peaceful imagery. "Morning Light," by nature, is slightly more uplifting than "Body Healing." I'm a huge fan of the melody and find it the most poignant when the strings and flute are the lead instruments. The piano work is quite beautiful as well and the light percussion and acoustic guitar really helps give off a very calming demeanor.
I feel like this is my life work — to save people of depressed hearts or sleeping problems. This can be done through not only good melodies and arrangements, but also by good sound engineering. The very soft nuances from instrument really touch your heart through inaudible high frequencies. - Norihiko Hibino
One of my favorites from Hibino has to be "Awakening." The cello and violin lead melody lines are absolutely stunning and the flute harmonies really help accent them quite nicely. The piano and acoustic guitar lines are also extremely touching. It's one of those uplifting themes that manage to incorporate a variety of elements that accentuate the feeling of relaxation. Another favorite of mine is "Sun Comes Up." Similar to "Awakening," the violin and cello lines are absolutely beautiful and help craft a beautiful melody, at times playful, at others contemplative. The flute line is also quite beautiful and helps capture the imagery of the rising sun in the morning. The acoustic guitar solo is also quite nice and helps give the theme a rustic sound. "Peace in My Heart" is another contemplative piece whose instrumental focus is quite varied. The acoustic guitar and flute are the primary focus in the beginning and really help give the composition a more earthy tone. The strings and piano lines are definitely more contemplative in nature and help lend a somber, yet calming, atmosphere to the mix. My favorite sections are when the playful flute work mingles with the emotional strings work.
Continuing to the end of the album, "Quiet Morning," as one might surmise from the title, is an extremely peaceful theme that utilizes all the instruments to provide a fitting soundscape. All the instruments are played in a more melancholy nature. The melody is quite strong and although it's not a favorite of mine on the album, I appreciate the exquisite beauty the instruments embody. On the other hand, "Joy" is quite uplifting. I think its success lies in the beautiful piano and acoustic guitar melody lines, as they seem to exude the most uplifting emotions. The entire theme is quite beautiful though and all the elements work together to craft a very cohesive piece of music. Lastly, "Universe," closes the album. Unlike the majority of Hibino's contributions, this one takes a more minimalist approach to its development. When listening to this piece, I imagine staring into the night sky and just pondering. On occasion, flute is introduced to offer a sense of cohesive melody, but the majority of the piece relies on subtle and simple piano and acoustic guitar notes to emulate a spacey, yet earthy, feeling. It's a beautiful way to close the album.
In the end, the Hibino Sound Therapy Lab Sound Library album is an exquisitely crafted album full of emotional music. It is perfect music to listen to on a rainy day, on a sunny day, or as you lay in bed trying to fall asleep. There is a sense of warmth heard in the music that really makes the listener feel cozy inside. Both Takizawa and Hibino do a great job at composing for this small ensemble and, although their approaches are quite different, the end result is quite good. I highly suggest trying to pick this up, whether purely for stand-alone listening or even as an accompaniment for sleep therapy.