Undertale quickly became the darling of the indie pc game scene after it quite rightly took the plaudits for doing things differently. In a similar way, Gentle Love (Norihiko Hibino and AYAKI) combine one again for a piano and saxophone reworking of the Undertale soundtrack in their fourth full volume of the Prescription for Sleep series.
What always makes me chuckle with the title, and in this case the renditions, is that with such sublime saxophone playing you’d never fall asleep anyway. The piano is suitably jazzy and bluesy on the whole, but the two are mostly playing together and so you’d be wide awake and taking their talent in.
The talent is on display from the outside with an intricately balanced “Once Upon A Time” where both are let off their own steam to embellish and wax lyrical over the main melody and the results are impressive and emotive, as they are throughout. It’s quite difficult to single out specific songs because what they do is create a specific sound and run with it to perfection. Some of the more energetic tracks are technical marvels such as “Enemy Approaching”. AYAKI’s piano chops are up their with the very best. “Snowdin Town” wins my cute arrangement award as it evokes a Shimomura and Kingdom Heart’s like quality. Similarly “Heartache” and “Waterfall” are where the two melt together best in the slower and more introspective tracks. I also really appreciate the piano only rendition of “Undertale” itself as it’s a simple but rousing theme and it’s understated arrangement here is brilliant.
More intriguing are the closing two tracks. The first is a nine minute improvisation loosely running around various themes and you’d never guess it was an improvisation in the slightest. The closing tracks is a slow original called “Finally Home” and it’s here where Gentle Love really lives up to its name as the soft piece is interwoven with bird song and softest of musical caresses.
I continue to marvel at Gentle Love’s ability to get me to enjoy the saxophone as I generally do not gel with it as an instrument at all. It’s harshness placed into what is essentially a calming and subdued setting always make me think “oh no why did they do that!”. Yet each time I am wowed by the complex arrangements and superb production. Game music and jazz fans will lap this up.
Recommended Track : “Heartache”