Lately, while I lie in bed reading before I fall asleep, I've been listening to a chill jazz album. Its songs have soft saxophone solos with a lovely piano playing in the background, making them perfect to doze off to. Strangely, it's also an album made up of covers of video game music, put together by Norihiko Hibino, a composer best known for the Metal Gear Solid games. It's a weird combination, but it works — the album essentially takes your favorite game songs and strips them down into something much more soothing.
"I believe music with less notes, lots of space, and most importantly, sincere prayer while performing, is best for sleep," says Hibino.
The album is called Prescription for Sleep, and is actually the second in the "game music lullabies" series. It features songs from a diverse range of games — from modern titles like Skyrim and Shovel Knight to classics like Chrono Trigger and early Final Fantasy games — all performed by Gentle Love, a two-man group formed by Hibino, a saxophonist, and pianist Ayaki.
"You can have it on repeat and sleep through the entire thing."
While the songs chosen for the album are diverse, ranging from thumping anthems to chiptune music, the covers all have the same soothing style. The album even features "Snake Eater" from Metal Gear Solid 3, a song originally composed by Hibino. My personal favorite is the iconic moon theme from Ducktales on the NES, which has been transformed from a bleeping retro classic into a wonderful piece of chill jazz.
The first album featured covers of songs that were already relaxing, but for the follow-up the duo decided to go in a different direction. "For volume two, I challenged Gentle Love by choosing more melodic pieces that weren't necessarily sleepy to begin with," says producer Jayson Napolitano. Hibino says that the older songs in particular are easier to adapt to the lullaby style, mainly because they're much more distinctive. "Modern orchestral scores can be more ambient in nature," he says, "and sometimes there's not a strong melody to expand upon and explore."
The resulting album — available now — is a unique way to interact with your favorite video games, letting you re-discover their music in a new way. "I think you'll find that you can have it on repeat and sleep through the entire thing," says Napolitano, "but also actively listen while awake and discover a lot of intricate detail."