Silent Hill 4 -The Room- Original Soundtracks
Continuing on with my opinions of the Silent Hill series, I'm going to take a look at the score for Silent Hill 4 The Room. This album, much like the previous game's score, is a combination of heavy rock arrangements and atmospheric moods. The distinction, while obvious, is sometimes obscured in a fantastic blend of styles which are the signature of the Silent Hill series. Also in step with the rest of the series, many of the tracks display a certain quality which identifies them as being specifically Silent Hill — a certain instrumental sound which is unique to the series, specifically in the drum kits and guitar selections. As with my previous review, I'm going to take a look at some of the pieces which show off this quality, as well as a few other selections which I feel are quite strong in their own way. Also like my previous review, I won't be looking at most of the atmospheric work, simply because much of it sounds the same. So with that said, lets jump in.
Let's begin with "Fortunate Sleep -Nonne Disturb Her Dead-," a piece which focuses on presenting an atmospheric mood, with a light percussive beat and a strong piano melody. The piano in particular does a fantastic job at mixing with the synthesizers, with just enough volume to be prominent without being overly loud. The piece itself without the piano is very light and airy, but the piano really gives it its edge, and is one of my favorite things about the track; a perfect example of decorative piano which not only attempts to add to the mood of the piece, but in itself creates a separate, melancholy mood. In contrast, "Traversing the Portals of Reality" is a rock piece which focuses on dissonance to create the atmosphere. The really interesting thing about this piece, in my opinion, is the drum beat. In and of itself, it's fairly basic, but when combined with the rolling guitar and sweeping strings (in portions of the piece), it really brings the track alive. The small changes at the end of the eight bar segments really creates a cool transition into the next melodic section. While dissonance isn't necessarily my most favorite thing in the world, it certainly helps to distinguish the track as part of the Silent Hill backdrop.
"Into the Depths of Self Discovery" is another track which uses synthesizers and a light beat to create an atmospheric rock combo. Again, the beat in this piece is what really gives it its edge. The syncopation allows the synthesizers (presenting the main "atmospheric" melodic theme of Silent Hill 4 The Room) to come through with some real punch. One thing about any Silent Hill atmospheric piece is the absence of any real melodic key, and in some ways, this is beneficial to the overall sound of the score. But the atonality on this album is more prominent than other Silent Hill albums and somewhat detracts from the quality of many of the pieces. "Remodeling" is another example where the absence of a melodic key adds to the atmosphere of the piece, but in general makes the track more confusing rather than abstract. The light beat in this piece is what makes it interesting, but when combined with the rest of the somewhat random synthesizer loops, it all becomes a bit much.
However, there's more to a Silent Hill album than just rock pieces and atmospheric background tracks: time to look at my favorite part of these albums, the vocal pieces. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa return to the Silent Hill series, providing five vocals tracks to the album. Romersa contributes "Cradle of Forest," but like his previous track "Hometown," this one seems out of place. The orchestration on the track is definitely strong, but the vocals sound wrong. While his voice is more suited to this track than to "Hometown," it still has the wrong sound to really blend with the Silent Hill sound. McGlynn however, hits her mark perfectly. "Tender Sugar," which accompanies the official music video for the game, is somewhat repetitive, but the vocals really give a sweeping, almost emotional yearning sound to the track. While not McGlynn's strongest vocal performance, her louder vocals during the chorus match the song well.
Perhaps one of the most emotional songs to appear in Silent Hill, "Room of Angel" evolves from "Letter - From the Lost Days" to mourn the death of Cynthia, one of the lead characters from the game. I'll talk more about her later. The track has strong percussive beats, with atmospheric sweeps in the background, supporting McGlynn's whisper-like vocals throughout the piece. From there, McGlynn takes on something a little different with "Your Rain," perhaps the most pop-sounding song in the series to date. A little more upbeat than the rest of the vocal repertoire, this song comes to be identified with Cynthia while she was alive. The track's fast chorus and memorable melody really give it a lively edge, while still maintaining the traditional Silent Hill sound. The guitar solo before each chorus really allows the song to build, creating a platform for McGlynn's strong vocals. Indeed, the pop feel to the track can be seen in other places; the track was re-mixed and featured in DDR Extreme accompanied by a cinematic performance by Cynthia and her back-up dancers.
Finishing off the album (and during the credits in the game), we get "Waiting For You," my second favorite song in the Silent Hill series next to the studio version of "I Want Love." Presented as a live track, McGlynn's vocals come out extremely strong, and a first in the series, is given a harmonic melody (that I particularly love). The song on its own is a standard track that, after this many albums, you would expect to hear. But the vocals and the instrumentation of the rest of the track really give it a fun and highly addictive quality that will leave you humming for days to come.
Overall, the score for Silent Hill 4 The Room isn't as impressive as previous albums. The addition of more atmospheric tracks and a smaller contribution from drum kits and guitars in those pieces somewhat hurts the series as a whole. Not that the album isn't good; it just isn't AS good as the other scores in the series. True, the subject matter of the game is slightly different than previous titles, but the absence of familiar musical styles and sounds is still disappointing. The vocal work, however, is solid and is definitely an asset to the album.
When sitting down to tackle yet another Silent Hill review, I had to do a bit of research. This album was a special release here in North America, and features a few new tracks which weren't included on the original soundtrack. It also features some new, remixed versions of tracks which players of the game have come to know. Because of this, this review is a bit problematic. I wanted to take a look at this album without reviewing something a second time. After reviewing the original soundtrack, this eliminates seven of the tracks, including the game's main vocal themes (which were, if you recall, some of the best pieces on the album). At the same time, I wanted to give fair hearing to the new versions, as well as the new tracks that have appeared. So, for this review, I've decided to take a balanced approach with a wedding in mind: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Maybe black is more appropriate, but what are you going to do! Let's dive in.
It seems only right that we take a look at the new tracks first. Sadly, out of the seven new pieces added to the Silent Hill repertoire, only one of them is really at all worthy to talk about. "Lifetime" is a short, atmospheric piece, which features a solo piano among heavy synth. A wavering background creates a fantastic landscape for the idea of a world beyond our own, or a world being looked upon through time. The piano work is light, but strong enough to provide some necessary essence to the piece. More decorative than melody driven, the piano work is the staple of what we've seen over the various Silent Hill albums: it always has the ability to make a presence, without necessarily trying to drive a piece forward. This is part of that Silent Hill sound that I mentioned in the review for the original soundtrack of Silent Hill 4 The Room.
Moving forward to the remixes, I'm going to look at the four non-vocal tracks which have been given a new spin. "Fortunate Sleep ~ Cat Scratchism Mix" creates a wonderful ambience that really pulls you in. The sweeping synth vocal at the beginning really sets the mood, while the light synth melody leads into the light, phased out beat of the piece. This structure creates a layered effect for the piece which provides an element of depth. Later in the piece, the synth takes a more direct role in creating the structure, providing support for the decorative piano melody. Light melodic pulses also provide a rich upper layer for the piece, and they pierce right through in all the right places. I actually prefer this version to the original, because I feel it offers so much more in terms of atmosphere and 'placement' within the game. The original was great, as you know from my other review, but this version offers a little extra. "Resting Comfortably - Nasty Remix" begins with solo piano, featuring quick melodic changes and long pauses. The absence of a real melody adds an element of mystery to the piece, which the synth attempts to mimic in the second half. However, because the two parts are so different and isolated, they begin to sound more like individual tracks rather than a full, harmonious remix. The original piece was quite short, and had an odd, muddled sound to it. While the remix makes the piece sound better as a whole, it still fails to deliver the needed eeriness that a track on a Silent Hill album demands.
"Underground Dawn - EEE Mix" is a little strange. Music-box-type melodic choices at the beginning work more as a prologue to the actual track, which focuses on strong acoustic percussion, and synth pulses. With a slightly jazz oriented style, this piece certainly comes to life. Musically, I prefer the overall sound of this version. However, the original has a unique dissonance that really makes you cringe, which gives it a more appropriate sound for the game. My only disappointment with this piece is the lack of versatility. For four minutes, it all sort of sounds the same, offering little variation along the way. "Waverer - Slide Mix" is another sort of jumbled piece. The original almost exclusively uses a rock drum kit as the only source of movement within the piece, and for four minutes, this gets old very fast. The remix attempts to fix this by adding in a repetitive melodic element with the synth. It also included random vocal sampling which I would really like to have removed. While the piece has elements of a great track (reminiscent of the synth work of Craig Armstrong), it just gets too repetitive, too quickly, for far too long.
On this album, in addition to having the game's main vocal pieces "Room of Angel," "Cradel of Forest," Tender Sugar," and "Your Rain," we are given vocal remixes of the latter two. Let's start with the quirkier piece. "Your Rain - Rage Mix" is known to most people from the video game Dance Dance Revolution Extreme. In the game, it featured graphics showing Cynthia (a character from the game) singing in the rain, looking slightly disheveled and a bit sad. In most ways, this is a really great revised interpretation of her character, but at the same time, destroys her credibility. In the game, her death is particularly memorable and emotional, and this revision takes away from that. The piece itself, from a musical level, is quite well done. The strong electronic dance beats blend seamlessly with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn's vocals, giving the impression of a perfectly natural transition from the rock of the original, to pop. It's a fun piece, but because of its use, is on the short side, but perhaps that is for the best.
"Tender Sugar - Empire Mix" needs a little more analysis. The piece is probably the most successful piece on this album, because it combines the noted Silent Hill sound, with an original vocal composition. The original piece features a more rock oriented approach to the instrumentation, giving McGlynn an edgy ballad. With this remix, her vocals are transformed into a haunting, mellow electronic song of longing and remorse. While the original vocal track is preserved, the entire instrumentation has been stripped away and replaced with pure orchestrated synth. Some of the series' most notable synth note patterns make an appearance in the track, breaking through for their own unique little solos. A recurring wavering synth helps to draw the different portions of the track together, while keeping the integrity of the piece from falling apart. Although in many ways this new arrangement removes any of the original emotional significance of the piece, it instead provides a truly unique and varied listening experience. That being said, many people probably won't like this track, only because it is so strange. When I first heard it, I was one of those people. But it really grows on you the more you listen to it.
To put it bluntly, this album is a disappointment. When it is put together, it creates a pleasant enough package, but with each element on its own, it isn't strong enough. The new tracks don't match the quality or the originality of the tracks from the original soundtrack, and for the most part they all sound the same. The remixes (aside from "Fortunate Sleep"), while playful, could have been done better, if not using more vibrant pieces as their source. The vocal mixes, while a nice addition, simply aren't enough to provide a sturdy backbone for the album. The rest of the album, with the original pieces, are a mixed mass of great and poor pieces, and offer little of the appeal that they might have offered if accompanied by a better track selection. Overall, I simply don't see the advantage to recommending this album. It has its gems, but I'd recommend seeking out those solo tracks on their own, and saving your money.
Silent Hill 4 The Room once again sees Akira Yamaoka throw himself and the kitchen sink at a bizarre mix of ambience, noise, haunting melodies, and rocked out beats. This time round the ambience and noise have been put on a backburner however as we gear up for the most melodic assault yet.
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn returns with her achingly emotive vocals. They are first showcased with "Tender Sugar", a slow but climactic almost darkwave piece with haunting guitars and a very low-fi production — a trait that stays with us for the rest of soundtrack. At first I found the low-fi approach a turn off and in some respects it still is, but if you listen to the whole thing all the way through, you don't notice it after a short while. "Tender Sugar" is a stunning opener setting a new darker tone for the vocal pieces and sets up the listener perfectly for whats to come.
"Waverer" is one of the more abstract tunes. A minimal drum, bass, and warped echoing piano/guitar feedback hybrid swirl throughout the piece enticing you in further. "Fortunate Sleep -noone disturb her dead-" then slides in after a small noise interlude with a piece that reminds me of "Forest" from Silent Hill 2 for some reason. It's not very similar sounding but it's in the same tone for me. "Melancholy Requiem" begins the first real instrumental piece with piano arpeggios and some distorted keyboards and string impliments. The whole piece has a dirty, edgy, and uncomfortable feel to it — it encapsules the essence of Silent Hill completely especially as the song degenerates into dischorded ambience, a trait again carried in many songs.
"Confinement" has a mean guitar and percussive edge to it and brings you back to the old guitar sounds of the original Silent Hill theme. "Drops of Shame" takes you on an eerie trip-hop ambient climb around the echoing room. "The Suicidal Clock Chime" is a short piece of humming noises and dischorded clangs of a very broken organ by the sounds of things. "Silent Circus" returns to the trip-hop beats for a quirky tune that is actually quite funky and chilled out. "Traversing the Portals of Reality" then returns to the more grungy guitar riffs of earlier tracks with a very b-movie stabbing organ sound that lends itself very well to rock music, as does the out of tune violins! Great work! "Into The Depths of Self Discovery" then gives us an unnerving "new age" track of keyboard delights that pulsates with echoing soft screams flying through the piece. It's probably the closest the soundtrack comes to a properly laid out melody too in an instrumental song.
"Cradel Of Forest" sees the return of Joe Romersa on vocals for an excellent song. His vocals came under a bit of critisism in Silent Hill 3's soundtrack however here they fit the song perfectly and actually made me appreciate "Hometown" much more. McGlynn gives us some backing vocals too in this catchy rock song. "Resting Comfortably" is the only subminute song but I adore it. It's just a circle of synthesized vocals (it sounds like it anyway), but, my goodness, I could listen to it for ages on end. Eerie and subtle, it leads straight into "Nightmarish Waltz", which features distorted vocals and drum loops. The essence of "Resting Comfortably" returns for "Pulsating Ambience", where the song's non-vocal parts are accompanied by disorientating percussive booming bassy boings, almost like an Indian Udu Pot but Silent Hill style!
On to vocal track three, "Your Rain", back with McGlynn. She sings with heartbreaking weariness before the anthemic chorus pounds through your heart. This one took a few listens before I really appreciated it but now it's a firm favourite. "The Last Mariachi" is a completely carefully mucked up piece and shows genius in how to make something likeably out-of-tune before my favourite instrumental song appears. "Wounded Warsong" is all about building tension as the chords pull up further and further with grinding padded synths crawling you up with it. It gets me going every listen — pure class. "Underground Dawn -Never Come-" is similar to the second track; trip-hop drum beats and random guitar ambience flows throughout before "Fever Chill" takes away the guitars for some banging around on vibraphones and keyboards. "Remodeling" is the last of the official instrumentals which takes you off on a fun paced tour de force of random sampling and noises which is what the series does best.
To finish the real soundtrack off we have two stunning vocal tracks. The first, "Room Of Angel," is easily the most downbeat original vocal track for a game I've came across to date and for that it deserves a mention. The bond between piano, vocal and ambient background is electric and you can feel yourself losing your strength. Some may think its too miserable - I think its superb! Finally "Waiting For You ~Live at Heaven's Night~" is a bonus track that's not live at all. It's unreleased and they have simply and somewhat pointlessly popped a cheering crowd in it — thankfully it doesn't sound fake. The song is catchy and have great hooks - a good rock out grunge style with Mary giving it some welly!
The second disc features a spoken story in Japanese called "Inescapable Rain in Yoshiwara". The reader speaks gruffly and performs voices for all the monsters leading to some quite bizarre and unnerving screeching and moaning! Of course it would be no fun it wasn't set to all the noise that characterises the Silent Hill series. Each chapter is given a note of the music scale and each one works in harmony with the next. The atmosphere is tense and I'm sure if it were in English, you could appreciate the disc a whole lot more. However even in Japanese you can immerse yourself as the reader gets well into the story and the ambience unnerves you.
So does it match the previous three soundtracks? In a word, yes! This soundtrack took an awful long time for me to really appreciate. It didn't feel like collectively it held together as the balance of melody overcame the ambience and therefore lacklustre random noises couldn't hold their own. Now, however, on a relisten while writing this review, I can safely say it deserves its place up with the first three soundtracks. A fine collection, a fine series, well done Akira Yamaoka!
Silent Hill 4: The Room was released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, the series' third installment on the platform. Originally developed as a separate title entirely but altered partway through development to fit into the series, The Room's gameplay functioned very differently from the preceding Silent Hill games, with an increased focus on inventory management. The game was released to mixed reception, and it would be the last Silent Hill game produced by the series' original creative team. Akira Yamaoka again provided the soundtrack, calling upon the same vocalists who had worked on 3, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa.
Silent Hill 4's soundtrack develops elements from the preceding two games in the series, although it represents a further step away from the style of the first game, with its utter absence of purely atmospheric tracks. Yamaoka's attention to sonic detail is as keen as it was in the first two games, and easily more so than 3. In addition to the songs (and their singers), The Room inherits the structure of its tracks from 3. Instead of simply a rehash of its predecessors' styles, however, The Room's soundtrack presents a refined version of them. The individual tracks are longer, and this gives Yamaoka more space to let his ideas unfold in a deliberate manner.
As usual, he finds unexpected potential in very simple ideas. "The Last Mariachi" comprises nothing more than a guitar improvisation, but the atmospheric noise surrounding it threatens to drown it out and gives the whole an oddly ominous quality. The bells in "The Suicidal Clock Chime" reverberate across a seeming expanse. In "Resting Comfortably", the outwardly placid surface of echoing chords belies the track's odd sounds, its movement in fits and starts. And all of these are short, with about a minute of the disc allocated to each.
The longer tracks develop in much the same manner as 3's, by establishing a pattern melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic and subtly altering it as the track progresses. The method is never predictable, and while the rhythm usually stays consistent throughout, with the melodic/harmonic content changing, in the first section of "Waverer", this is reversed, with a steady ostinato over a dragging drum beat, the latter changing its accents with every reiteration of the basic pattern. It eventually dissolves into synth static.
The three-bar synth ostinato of "Silent Circus" seems like an echo of the preceding track's distorted bells. Improvisatory synth lines comment on the whole and after a section filled with them becomes filled with static interference, the drums attempt to reappear a beat early only to be artificially cut off, and again, but then to come back on-beat after one iteration of the ostinato. "Wounded Warsong" matches up to the best of Silent Hill 3's score, with its driving, descending rhythm and perpetually ascending ostinati clashing to create an impression of climbing upwards and being dragged down simultaneously. Synth choir enters for a more grounded, if ambiguous, middle section.
The electric guitar features more prominently in the main score in The Room, used as yet another repeating element rather than for melody or harmonic progression. The repeated bare fifth (power chord) to tritone in "Confinement" is treated like any bassline, although in the middle section a cleaner guitar sound takes center stage to great effect. In "Traversing the Portals of Reality", an echoing tritone on guitar repeats underneath another guitar playing broken chords. "Underground Dawn - Never Come -" simply uses the guitar to create a harmonic cloud surrounding its other elements.
Of course, electric guitar plays an important role in several of the songs as well. Joe Romersa sings "Cradel of Forest" (sic), a hard rock song which opens with a string of guitar arpeggios influenced by "Stairway to Heaven". The pseudo-poetics of the lyrics are banal bordering on inane (They laugh, whispering hand in hand/Just like children like to do), but Romersa's performance lends them an odd sort of conviction that makes it all work. "Tender Sugar", the album's opener, is a slower song with a quite active bassline and a tritone-dominated pre-chorus. McGlynn's breathy, emotive performance is perfectly attuned to the song's tone. It closes with its opening guitar arpeggio slowing down and coming to a halt. "Your Rain" opens ambiguously, drifting back and forth between F-sharp minor and A major, only conclusively settling on the former after the verse. The first part of the song is played with a clean tone, and the second with heavy distortion. The return of the B section in the latter half is the emotive peak of the song.
The game's theme song, "Room of Angel", is dominated by electronic ambiance and piano instead of guitar. Slow, meditative, and repetitive, its simple harmony and spare arrangement accentuate its haunting melody. A dark, morbid lullaby sung from the perspective of the game's villain, it once again shows Yamaoka's talent for expanding the simplest ideas to their limits. The following bonus track, "Waiting for You ~ Live at Heaven's Night", is a well-executed song, but it doesn't stand up to the other ones on the disc, and the overdubbed crowd noise is unbelievable when McGlynn can clearly be heard singing both lead and back-up vocals.
Silent Hill 4: The Room as a game took the series in a new direction, and although the score does not depart quite as radically from tradition, its adaptation of the series' sound differs enough that it entirely holds its own against its predecessors. The songs in The Room are more polished than 3's, and, like the underscore, given more time to expand and develop. Even without direct links between tracks, the score moves fluidly from one piece to the next, without sacrificing variety. Both as a separate album and within the context of the series as a whole, it is an excellent soundtrack.
AKIRA16 - фильм-концерт с Акирой Ямаокой и Мэри Элизабет МакГлинн
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Джо Ромерса выпустил трёхчасовой сборник коммерческой музыки
Акира Ямаока выступит в России
SILENT HILL SOUNDS BOX: наследие Акиры Ямаоки в восьми томах
Вполне очевидно, что треклисты всех семи дисков не подвергнутся изменениям по сравнению с выпущенными ранее саундтреками, а двойной альбом по мотивам Silent Hill 4: The Room лишится второго диска с аудиоспектаклем, но изменения скорее всего коснутся графического оформления. По хорошему, для полноты картины этому сборнику явно не хватает ещё двух дисков со всеми би-сайдами промо-дисков, официальными ремиксами и треками, не вошедшими в официальные альбомы, с другой стороны – поживём, увидим....
Silent Hill 4: музыкальное видео Cradle Of Forest
Биография Мэри Элизабет МакГлин
Прочитать биографии Акиры Ямаоки, Джо Ромерсы и Мэри Элизабет МакГлин....
11.07.2008 2389• 19.03.2008 Интервью с музыкальным директором Silent Hill
• 05.02.2008 Юбилей Акиры Ямаоки
• 28.06.2005 Рецензия на Silent Hill 4: The Room
Fortunate sleep -noone disturb her dead-
Drops Of Shame
The Suicidal Clock Chime
Traversing The Portals Of Reality
Into The Depths Of Self Discovery
Cradel Of Forest
The Last Mariachi
Underground Dawn -Never Come-
Room Of Angel
Waiting For You ~LIVE AT "Heaven's Night"~ (unreleased tunes)