INSTANT BRAIN PERFECT SOUND TRACK
Instant Brain is CAVE's first visual novel game. Originally to be composed solely by Ryu Umemoto, his illness and eventual death brought about the addition of several other composers that had previously worked with him on other projects. They were Keishi Yonao, Hideki Higuchi, Tadayoshi Moriya, TECHNOuchi, and WASi303. How does the full soundtrack, released a month after the bonus soundtrack, turn out given the variety of composers?
The album opens up with "Proof of Past," by Ryu Umemoto, a very heavy contribution featuring intense electronic beats and uplifting synthesizer work that work together. However, it isn't as developed as some of his other contributions, which may turn some listeners away. In addition to this, Umemoto contributed four other tracks to the overall score before his death. "Roundabout" is an upbeat theme with a bit of a jazz influence. I really like the percussion and bass rhythm that he incorporates and the keyboard work, the main driver of the melody, really manages to engage the listener. "Day by Day" is a bit more laid-back and romantic in terms of soundscape. It's a jazzy tune with some slick beats, some wonderful guitar work, and serene strings all coming together to create a relaxing atmosphere. In many ways, it would fit wonderfully in a modern Persona game. "Detective" has a very slick, jazzy groove that really manages to impress with its awesome bass guitar work, electronic soundscapes, and piano chords. The last track on the album, "Angel," is definitely my favorite contribution by the composer on the album. It's an extremely beautiful track, featuring mysterious piano and angelic boys' choir samples, giving off a very somber atmosphere. As the theme progresses, a very lovely brass melody is incorporated into the theme, giving a very heroic and earthly contrast to the wispy choral work. This is definitely one of my favorite Umemoto themes in recent years.
Keishi Yonao's major contribution is "Challenge to the Past." Through its duration, the longest on the album, it sets the tone for the story, and at times, some of the other styles heard on the soundtrack. There is a strong jazz component featured, particularly in what appears to be a semi-acoustic guitar, some funky bass grooves, ethereal synthesizers, and mysterious piano passages. It really manages to captivate the listener with its memorable melody. "Narrow Reality" is an upbeat track featuring some jovial piano chords in the accompaniment that really manage to accent the synthesizer harmonies and guitar melody quite nicely. It would definitely work to describe a very sunny day in the park. At least, that's how I imagine it. "Severe Reality," on the other hand, is a bit funkier in tone. The melody is catchy, but isn't particularly memorable. It definitely helps set a tone, through its electric keyboard work, bass guitar work, and synthesizers, but you won't be humming this one down the street. Similarly, "Warm Reality" brings on the funky tone as well, is a bit more atmospheric and lush, but, akin to "Severe Reality," it doesn't really have a stand out melody. Lastly, "Hope," is a beautiful synthesizer piece that features a great melody and some lovely percussion accompaniment. The use of piano helps give off a dreamy soundscape, accentuated further by the ethereal synthesizer harmonies, and the percussion has a bit of a tribal sound to it.
Hideki Higuchi offers a few themes to the full album. His first contribution, "Awake," is an excellent fusion of big band brass and funk rock. I love the combination of the brass and groovy rhythm guitar, as well as the slick bass guitar accompaniment. It has a very urban sound to it that I think works well for the setting of the game. "Searching," on the other hand, is a bit more mysterious in nature, but at the same time, still focuses on providing a groovy atmosphere with its deep bass guitar hits and electric guitar harmonies, making it sound like something that Shoji Meguro might conjure it. The same could be said for "Girly," which features some groovy bass guitar tones, synthesizer accompaniment, and a piano melody, which manages to work in some funky rhythms that work well with the overall flow of the track. "Nervous Reality" is most similar in approach to "Awake," with its big band and funk fusion. It's definitely a more rock focused track with the steady incorporation of some funky guitar fusions. The jazzier sections of the track really work well at serving as a bridge between the edgier rock sections of the theme. Lastly, "Tragic Past" offers a very melancholy, poignant theme quite different from the rest of Higuchi's contributions. The piano is exquisite and really helps accentuate the melody. The synthesizer accompaniment and percussion, while sparse, only help further strengthen the atmosphere.
On the full album, Tadayoshi Moriya offers a few themes. "Night Scope" is probably my favorite of his contributions. It's a very fun big band jazz piece that fuses the more organic brass tones with some slight electronic undertones The B section is particularly memorable with its focus on electric keyboard. It really gives off a wonderful atmosphere and is always a joy to listen to. "Accelerating Reality" is also quite enjoyable. While not as strong as "Night Scope," although only just, I really like the implementation of the jazz piano, big brass tones, and the frenetic synthesizer. It all comes together quite nicely to provide, as the title suggests, a very energetic atmosphere. "Rainy Run" offers a very somber, melancholy touch with its beautiful strings and piano work. It's an extremely sad, but heartfelt theme. "Angry Run" is also pretty groovy as well, focusing on electronic and rock tones to give off a powerful atmosphere and a progressive rock feel overall. "French Run" gives off a very delicate atmosphere, with its playful piano and xylophone work, combined with some soft electronic tones. "Funny Run," as the name may suggest, is a very playful theme focusing on synthesizer to create a very bright mood. Overall, Tadayoshi Moriya's contributions are fairly solid.
When it comes to TECHNOuchi's contribution on the full album, he offers some of the shorter themes on the soundtrack, "BAR Hugo" is a jazzy track that gives off a very smoky atmosphere, but in the end, isn't particularly memorable. There are a variety of elements featured in the piece and, at times, they can sound very muddled together, in particular, the percussion elements. While the saxophone does try to spruce things up a bit and does fit with the overall tone of the track, it's very poorly synthesized. "Doubt of the Past" has a jazzy nature as well, focusing on mysterious chords to convey that sense of doubt. "Closed Past," "Exposed Past," and "Hidden Past," all rely on the same theme featuring rock and electronic components. In each, TECHNOuchi's use of detail is quite nice and the use of melody is manipulated. In "Closed Past" and "Hidden Past," while present, it is more atmospheric, whereas in "Exposed Past" it has a bit of a bright, cheerful nature.
WASi303 offers quite a varied set of themes as well. "Gloomy Past" is one of the most successful themes on the album. Melancholy, haunting piano dominates the opening of the track, allowing a very different side of WASi303 to be seen. As the theme progresses, some somber strings work is implemented and works wonderfully with the piano. "Identity of the Past" is also quite refreshing, offering a dark electronic vibe, but at the same time, the carnivalesque nature of the theme makes the theme quite playful. "Darkness" features some ominous electronic tones. It doesn't really do much except contribute to the atmosphere, so some many not find this theme to be too successful. While "Suspense" also offers a darker tone, I think it's much more successful, with its rock/electronic focus and beautiful piano work, giving it a bit of a heavenly touch as well. Lastly, "Approaching Reality" is WASi303's most substantial contribution. It features a dark atmosphere that focuses on mysterious piano and industrial percussion. The piano melody is quite beautiful and really manages to stand out among some of the darker contributions on the album.
In the end, the Instant Brain Perfect Soundtrack serves its purpose in-game, but at the same time, it may be hard to listen to frequently on a standalone basis, although the full release does offer quite a bit more stand out themes so mileage may vary between listeners. For the most part, this is definitely more of a background music soundtrack with a decent amount of memorable themes. The composers do well at composing for this style of game, for the most part. Despite those involved, the soundtrack does have a unified sound featuring a mainly jazz and funk focused atmosphere.
Full soundtrack release for Instant Brain.
Disc 1: 2, 5, 7, 9, 10
Disc 2: 10, 11
Disc 1: 8, 14
Disc 2: 3, 8, 14
Disc 1: 1, 15, 17
Disc 2: 1, 16
Disc 1: 3, 16
Disc 2: 4, 9, 12, 15
Disc 1: 4, 6
Disc 2: 2, 7, 13
Disc 1: 11, 12, 13
Disc 2: 5, 6