Sunday 29 March 2020

Lost In Fog

NOTE: Hi there! I'm going through the backcatalogue and re-publishing all the posts I can find. I'm re-posting them as new articles too just so there is visible content going up. This post is originally from March 2018.


A post that's been long overdue today, as I talk a little about the musical stylings of Akira Yamaoka, the man responsible for a great deal of the soundtracks for the Silent Hill series. Now if you know anything about games you might know that the Silent Hills are a little spooky to say the least, and as you might expect some of the soundtrack reflects that, often being quite literally industrial to go with the rusty chain link structures of the otherworld presented in the games. We'll dive right into things right after the album art of the original soundtrack in all it's 90's CG glory.

But that's not to say it's all brutally oppressing in it's atmosphere, in fact some of the tunes are quite nice. Contrast that link I posted above to this tune here. Same soundtrack, just some 20-odd tracks apart, only instead of sounding like the inside of a forge we're instead treated to some trip-hop flavoured goodness, opening with some vinyl crackle and a lonely acoustic guitar. The end result wouldn't sound too out of place on one of those dime-a-dozen lo-fi hip hop youtube vids, but I think Akira's got them beat seeing as he was making stuff like this in 1999.

That's not conjecture on my part either, Akira's work on the Silent Hill games takes a lot of inspiration from dark trip hop from the likes of Portishead and co. (there's even a texture of a Portishead poster in Silent Hill 1, here's a better shot of it). I dare say there's other points of reference too, The Reverse Will from the second game leans more on the trip hop side of things by bringing some scratching into the mix, but also I think touches on some Boards Of Canada territory too as about 55 seconds in there's a reversed sample of a child (one of the game's VO cast, actually) reciting the the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. On paper that sounds very much like Boards' modus operandi on Geogaddi with it's slightly occult undertones and general unsettling vibe, however Yamaoka's soundtrack actually predates Geogaddi by about a year.

And finally, the tune that made me want to make this post in the first place. The soundtrack to Silent Hill 3 has the least of the heavy industrial overtones and more of the ambient and trip/hip hop stuff, there's so many good tunes to pick from but if I had to choose only one it would be this. End Of Small Sanctuary is part of a select few tunes that put me on a highway to nostalgia town, like all those others I'be talked about in the past that I used to listen to shit 96kbps rips that I'd got off limewire on my whopping 256MB mp3 player. Aside from that personal attachment though, I still think it's a solid work in it's own right. It's nothing crazy complex or particularly long, but it nails the atmosphere its going for and more often than not I catch myself going back for just one more listen before it ends.

-Claude Van Foxbat

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