Artist: Japanese Breakfast

Genre: Pop, Instrumental, Soundtrack

Best Tracks: “Glider”, “Eccria (Night)”, “Sansee (Day)”, “Beetle Detour”, “Burnt Oak Station (Day)”

Weakest Tracks: “Sansee (Night)”

Release date: September 24, 2021

Duration: 1 hr 36 min

Michelle Zauner has been a busy artist. The Korean-American musician released her much acclaimed soft-rock album ‘Jubilee’ in June this year as well as a biographical bestseller novel titled ‘Crying In H Mart’. And last week, she released the new video game soundtrack for ‘Sable’ (developed by Shedworks) under her stage name, Japanese Breakfast. 

The ‘Sable (Original Video Game Soundtrack’) is chill, laidback and sweet. Zauner collaborated with a strings group to imbue the album with a nostalgic and childlike sense of wonder. With the synths, strings and piano section with soft bongo percussions at times, what we get is an ethereal and other-worldly album. 

The soundtrack starts off with singing by Zauner in tracks such as “Main Menu” and the lead single “Glider”. The rest of the album is filled with wordless instrumental pieces which will call to mind the music of Studio Ghibli movies like ‘Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind’, ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. The influence of composer Joe Hisaishi is certainly there. 

In the track “Glow Worm Cave”, there is an 80s film vibe with the cave-like echoing that seems to reference ‘Nausicäa’. 

“Redsee (Day)” starts off with synths just the way “Posing In Bondage” (a track from the ‘Jubilee’ album) began. So there is almost a link connecting these two projects. 

The first half of the one and a half-hour-long record seemingly swims endlessly in a pool of trance sounds and ruminative music. It is magical, calm, soothing and almost nocturnal. This could render some listeners sleepy and make you wonder: won’t the video game player feel too relaxed and switch off the game to take a rest if this is the kind of music that they have to hear? Fortunately, things get more upbeat, energetic and cheerful in the second half of the album with the lighthearted “Beetle Detour” and “Machinist’s Theme”. “Cartographer’s Theme” is another wonky and playful track that sounds like the theme for an eccentric scientist character in a Hayao Miyazaki movie. 

On a different note, there’s “Redsee (Day)” and “The Wash (Day)” in the playlist, but no “Redsee (Night)” or “The Wash (Night)”. It makes you wonder where those tracks went. 

Japanese Breakfast brings a twist to the conventional video game music by making soothing and relaxing sounds full of wonder and rumination. This, in fact, is in accordance with the game’s world exploration genre and the painting-like visuals. Action games tend to be energetic and frenetic with a metal soundtrack that can feel grating and noisy to some. The ‘Sable’ soundtrack is the best bet for such players who wish to have a more unhurried and calming experience during gameplay. It’s also a great playlist of choice for non-gamers. 

Listen to ‘Sable (Original Video Game Soundtrack)’ on YouTube

The album is also available on Spotify.

Also read | New Songs Sunday: A brief recap of this week’s tracks

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