Silent Hill 4 Limited Edition Soundtracks
Silent Hill 4 Limited Edition Soundtracks
Konami of America
September 8, 2004
Buy Used Copy
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.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andre Marentette. Last modified on January 17, 2016.