Prescription for Sleep: Lullabies of Mana
Prescription for Sleep: Lullabies of Mana
Scarlet Moon Records
December 1, 2015
Download at LOUDR
Welcome to our third Game Music Lullabies album, Prescription for Sleep: Lullabies of Mana! For our third album I didn’t want to create another compilation. I wanted to do something different, and as I found myself constantly wanting to select tracks from Secret of Mana for our first two volumes, I thought it would be fitting to feature an entire album of music from this very special and memorable score by Hiroki Kikuta.
We’ve done just that, and more! You’ll find several key themes from the game, along with a few lovely surprises. The themes of mother nature and healing in the game lend themselves well to the performing style of GENTLE LOVE, and I think fans should be happy with the result.
In addition to our 11 themes from the game, GENTLE LOVE also present an original piece that we’ve called “Memories of Mana,” which was performed after the duo had completed the rest of the themes to ensure that the Secret of Mana soundscape would inspire it. We’re really pleased to share this third volume, which clocks in at over 90 minutes of music!
So, where do we go from here? I have some ideas, for certain. We want to keep this series fresh, and hope you enjoy what you’ve heard thus far. Please support us in these endeavors by picking up Volume I and Volume II if you haven’t already. As long as these albums are resonating with fans, we’ll continue to make them!
Thanks as always, and please share your impressions with us and those around you!
Producer, Scarlet Moon Records
There were many themes we wanted to include on this album. That’s why we have twelve tracks instead of our standard ten. Fortunately we featured “A Wish…” on Volume I, so that freed us up for an additional track. I wanted to take the time to explain why we selected the tracks that are featured on Lullabies of Mana.
Angel’s Fear – This is an iconic piece of music as the opening theme for Secret of Mana. We knew we had to include it. GENTLE LOVE captures the beautiful majesty of nature with their arrangement.
Phantom and… A Rose… – If this third album had been a compilation, this track would have been featured. I’ve always loved the laid back theme that plays in the ruins on the outskirts of town. AYAKI does great work visiting the various sections of the piece while Hibino tackles the introductory melody. This arrangement turned out exactly as intended.
Into the Thick of It – I think this is one of the most memorable themes from Secret of Mana for most people, so I wanted to be sure to visit it. It was a rather unconventional dungeon theme in that it was subdued and even beautiful. AYAKI again provides the backbone for Hibino’s adventurous sax work.
The Color of the Summer Sky – This was likely a challenge for GENTLE LOVE given how upbeat and bubbly the original town theme is. I think a lot of fans love this track as well, and as the key town theme, we wanted to feature it. They did a great job slowing it down and rooting the piece in a sort of warm and healing foundation by dropping the melody down a few octaves. It feels a bit like a groggy morning in the village.
Secret of the Arid Sands – As a dangerous and exotic area of the game, I thought this would act a bit as a surprise. The original theme is highly melodic, but the instrumentation makes it somewhat difficult to imagine as a lullaby. GENTLE LOVE has effectively turned this into a quiet night in the desert. It’s a little seductive in its approach. We hope you like it!
What the Forest Taught Me – This is an extremely playful theme, and one that really speaks to me as Kikuta-esque in style and instrumentation. Passing through the seasons among the trees and meeting the moogles stand out in my mind as particularly memorable. GENTLE LOVE captured the beauty of this scene perfectly in their performance, and AYAKI keeps the chord structure intact throughout much of the improvisation section, leading to a very warm and cohesive sound throughout the entire arrangement. This is one of my personal favorites on the album.
Spirit of the Night – We had to include the sad theme, right? Remember being banished from Potos, the first town in the game, and just how crushingly sad that was? This song will always be memorable for that moment at the beginning of the game. Of course the performance is dripping with emotion, and you can tell Hibino In particular is really feeling the melancholy in his solo section.
Calm Before The Storm – I struggled desperately trying to figure out whether I was going to feature this track or one of many others that were on my list. This track is particularly memorable as the piece that plays after you beat some of the game’s challenging bosses, coming as somewhat of a sigh of relief. The original is very upbeat and even regal, and I wasn’t sure how it’d play as a lullaby. However, the melody is quite strong, and given the result, I couldn’t be more excited that I stuck with the decision to include it. They take the rolling excitement of the original and slow it down to a comforting blanket to wrap yourself in on a cold night.
A Dark Star – This brooding piece acts as the second flight theme and has always been one of my favorites from the Secret of Mana soundtrack. The introductory ascending melody is so simple and powerful and feels so right given the rise of the Tree Palace by the forces of evil! The harmony between the saxophone and piano on this piece in particular strike me, as some of the combinations stray from the ominous atmosphere of the original yet feel completely natural, coming as delightful surprise.
Leave Time For Love – Another fan favorite, and hopefully another surprise! This energetic track leads players on to the final showdown, and is both epic, but hints at the strong bonds of friendship that have developed over the course of the game. It’s arranged quite often, and I wanted to again challenge GENTLE LOVE with such a theme. I think they’ve performed admirably, and as with “What the Forest Taught Me,” they do a wonderful job weaving the chord structure in throughout their improvisation to really provide enforce the bonding element of the original.
Now Flightless Wings – This is the final ending theme, where we see our dear sprite in ethereal form overlooking the forest. There are two segments to this piece; the slow build in the beginning, and the lullaby-esque melodic section that follows. I remember feelings of profound loss looking at this scene when I finished the game as a child, and so I still associate it with loss, but not in a melancholy way, rather more in a fashion of acceptance and hope. I’ve experienced loss in my life, as have most of you reading this, no doubt, so hopefully this track can help you with acceptance and hope as it has done for me. About that second melodic section at the end, it has particular impact, and I enjoy how GENTLE LOVE takes a journey getting there, teasing at it until the very end.
Memories of Mana – Given the themes of nature and healing featured throughout Secret of Mana, we wanted to give GENTLE LOVE the opportunity to present these themes through an original work. The result is warm and embracing reflection of the Lullabies of Mana experience. We hope this album resonates with you as much as it has with us in creating it!
I thought it would be potentially interesting to present the notes I submitted to GENTLE LOVE with the source music to consider in their arrangements and performances. Here they are in slightly edited form if you’re interested in hearing what the inspiration for each of the arrangements featured on this album were:
Angel’s Fear – This is the iconic opening theme. We see a view of a lush green forest as a flock of flamingos flies out above a pool of still water. There is the magnificent mana tree, the life force of the world, surrounded by peaceful creatures. The sound that plays in this theme was meant to be the call of a whale (although it’s hard to discern given the Super Famicom sound set). Try to channel mother nature and healing with this performance.
Phantom and… A Rose… – This piece accompanies a mysterious ruin near the edge of town. It’s quiet with not much going on. I’ve always wanted us to include this song on our main Game Music Lullabies compilation series, which is why we’re actually doing this album! It’s quite serene… try to focus on feelings on intrigue and historical significance.
Into The Thick Of It – This is the main exploration theme. It accompanies everything from caves to other dungeons. There’s a sense of exploration and adventure. Obviously we want to focus on relaxation and sleep. It still should have feelings of nature, whether deep in the Earth or in lands covered in grass.
Color of the Summer Sky – This is the main town theme. It’s quite happy sounding. Our arrangement should tone down and the joy and slow down the melody considerably. I’d focus on feelings of comfort and hospitality. I think we could get this slowed down to a similar pace that we featured on “Main Theme (Genso Suikoden)” on the first album to really get the vibe I’m thinking of.
Secret of the Arid Sands – This is from a vast desert that is easy to get lost in. However, I think we can imagine a quiet desert at night time, quiet and peaceful, where all the monsters are away sleeping. It’s beautiful in the moonlight. Let’s brighten it up and focus on serenity and the image of a thousand grains of sand slowly counting away the night as we sleep.
What The Forest Taught Me – This is a playful piece that accompanies our character who comes from a tribe of the forest. It’s meant to be playful and adventurous. I think we can afford to be a little upbeat with this arrangement, but try to keep the active sections to a minimum. The focus may be relaxation instead of sleep.
Spirit of the Night – This is the “sad” theme of the game. We don’t need to shy away from that here, so let’s make this soulful and heartfelt.
Calm Before the Storm – This song usually plays after a big climactic event. You’ve beat the big boss, and now you get a moment to relax and enjoy your victory before you’re off to the next adventure. Let’s focus on feelings of relief, relaxation, and hope for the future!
The Dark Star – In this game, you fly on a dragon. This is the second “flight” theme. The first is very bubbly but too fast and energetic for our album… “The Dark Star” is ominous as the villains of the game have just raised a continent out of the water that houses an evil weapon that they plan to unleash on the world. That’s why this theme is so dark and foreboding. I think you can approach this arrangement by thinking of flying in the sky and seeing this massive temple on the horizon. There should be a sense of it being a magnificent site, but also a sense of sorrow.
Leave Time For Love – This is the final dungeon of the game. The villains access the temple from the previous track and activate the flying Mana Fortress, which they want to control the world with. It’s a flying fortress that you must access with the use of your dragon, and it contains advanced technology and weapons that you must beat. However, as Kikuta-san notes with the track title, he wanted to emphasize that even though this is the final adventure in the game, there’s a bond among the characters, and that the emphasis is on their journey together. In that sense, we can slow this down and think of themes of companionship, love, and the magnificence of the Mana Fortress.
Now Flightless Wings – This is a theme from the end of the game. It’s the final screen that shows “The End.” The character referred to in “What The Forest Taught Me” (the playful forest theme from before) is shown in spirit form high up in a tree watching out over the winds sweeping over the forest. In the process of defeating the final boss, magic is eliminated from the world, which causes this character, who is magical, to disappear into the spirit world. It’s sad, because our dear friend is gone, but hopeful in that his spirit gets to watch over nature from the spirit world. I have a lot of connection to this song, personally, as it makes me think of my mother who’s now gone. In that sense, I thought it might be a fitting theme for you to think about feelings of love for those close to us who can no longer be with us with the idea that they’re still watching over us.
Original Track – Please consider everything you’ve performed up to this point. The main themes of the game are mother nature, companionship, and healing. Please perform an original piece focusing on these themes, aligning with the emotions you’ve been experiencing recording this album.
Please do not republish without written permission.
Posted on February 2, 2016 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on February 2, 2016.