INSTANT BRAIN Sound Selection
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 soundtrack turn out given the variety of composers?
Keishi Yonao, who originally worked with Umemoto on Yu-Mo, opens the album with "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 sound like an electric guitar, played acoustically. 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. "Severe Reality" and "Warm Reality", on the other hand, are a bit funkier in tone. The melody is catchy, but isn't particularly memorable. It definitely helps set a tone with its electronic forces, but you won't be humming these down the street. 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, who worked with Umemoto on a range of bishoujo soundtracks, also offers quite a bit to the 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. "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. "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 "Kali," which manages to work in some funky rhythms that work well with the overall flow of the track. 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.
"Night Scope" is probably my favorite of unknown Tadayoshi Moriya's 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. Moriya's other contribution, "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. The sole contribution from Umemoto's GE-ON-DAN partner, TECHNOuchi, "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, particularly 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. "Gloomy Past" is WASi303's sole contribution and 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 the artist to be seen. As the theme progresses, some somber strings work is implemented and works wonderfully with the piano.
The original composer, the late Ryu Umemoto, contributes four tracks to the soundtrack. "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, wonderful guitars, and serene strings all coming together to create a relaxing atmosphere. In many ways, it would fit wonderfully in a modern Persona game. Compared to other contributions by Umemoto on the soundtrack, "Past Proof" is 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. The last track on the album, "Angel," is definitely my favorite Umemoto contribution 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.
In the end, the Instant Brain soundtrack serves its purpose in-game, but at the same time, it may be hard to listen to frequently on a standalone basis. While technically sound, many of the tracks don't manage to stand out, but rather serve as fitting accompaniments to the game's scenarios. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, this is definitely more of a background music soundtrack with very few memorable themes. Despite multiple composers becoming involved in this soundtrack, all the artists involved do well at composing for this style of game and achieve a unified sound featuring a mainly jazz and funk focused atmosphere.
Enclosed in the limited edition of the game.
Keishi Yonao: 1-3, 10. 15
Hideki Higuchi: 4-6, 11, 16
Ryu Umemoto: 7, 9, 14,18
Tadayoshi Moriya: 8, 12
Challenge to the Past
Day by Day
Proof of Past