Silent Hill -Shattered Memories- Soundtrack
Silent Hill -Shattered Memories- Soundtrack
December 8, 2009
Buy Used Copy
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, developed by Climax Studios (who had previously worked on Origins), was Akira Yamaoka’s last work on the series before he left Konami to join Grasshopper Manufacture. A “reimagining” of the first game, Shattered Memories significantly altered everything about its source material, from the story to the gameplay. Likewise, Yamaoka provided an entirely new score for the game, complete with four songs from McGlynn, one of them a cover of a country song previously performed by Elvis, among others. The score recreates the old as new throughout, and its new qualities proved divisive among Yamaoka’s fans. The score was released in the US as a bonus for people who bought the game, and then again in the Silent Hill Sounds Box.
Exemplifying this transformation, “Always on My Mind”, the aforementioned cover, opens the disc. Yamaoka transforms the original — an upbeat song tinged with melancholy — into a brooding trip-hop track in the minor, complete with a pounding electronic bass line and oddly dissonant interjections from the piano. The arrangement and lyrics fit together only uneasily, the latter still retaining the original’s sensibilities, but McGlynn’s performance manages to tie them together convincingly, although a sardonic edge remains exposed.
Other ties are more directly linked to the original game. “Devil’s Laughter” recalls the title “Devil’s Lyric” from the first game, and aside from the echoing trombone sample, it could easily fit into the first game’s score. The “laughing” sound from Homecoming makes another appearance here. It also appears in “Hostility”, but altered to be almost unrecognizable under the waves of atmospheric noise. Timpani and cymbals carry the majority of the track. The backing polymetrical rhythm of “Hibernation” resembles the louder pounding material from the first game in its insistence, but the see-sawing guitar that appears at the end is clearly a mark of the more recent Yamaoka. It cuts through the noise but prolongs the track’s tension.
Notably, the score makes more use of recognizable instrument samples in addition to electronic and altered sounds. Note the timpani and cello in “Searching the Past”, its steady undercurrent garnished with sporadic electronic tones. The timpani also appear in “Endless Depths”, adding a traditional element to a track otherwise primarily rooted in industrial noise, and “Angel’s Scream” is likewise grounded by strings. After a minute of these string chords clashing against the underlying noise track, a cymbal clears the air for sampled choir. “Forsaken Lullaby” twists cliched string and drum patterns with its constant rhythmic uncertainty and sudden shifts. And while distorted piano features in “Another Warm Body” and the McGlynn song “Acceptance”, “Childish Thoughts” features a clean piano against a jazz-inspired background of bass and drums. “Creeping Distress” has a jazzy side as well, with its vibraphone and flute accents.
Some of the soundtrack’s best material is saved for the end. “Different Persons” may be based on a collection of rather standard rhythmic patterns, but the waves of sound that emanate from the beat are anything but ordinary: falling piano arpeggios fading in and out, an inhuman voice sample, and synth lines that seem to trip and stumble over each other while trying to form a progression. And then it stops. In “Ice”, a female vocal turns restlessly on a shifting bed of choir, never quite resolving. The laughing from earlier returns, quietly mocking the singers, but it is silenced, along with the lead vocal, as the choir quietly intones its final chord.
“Acceptance” is a slow lullaby in the vein of “Room of Angel”. The opening, in slow broken chords, brings the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata to mind, and like that famous piece, the perpetual movement gives the accompaniment an unsettled quality. It bears a resemblance to the first game’s “Not Tomorrow 1” as well. The delicate arrangement shifts almost imperceptibly as the song progresses, and the strings and backing vocals remain quiet and subtle. The final song, “Hell Frozen Rain”, is a driving rock number, featuring a prominent reference to the first game’s “Silent Hill” in its guitar solo interlude. It concludes the album well.
Throughout Yamaoka’s score to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the familiar elements on the surface mask unpredictable developments. Noise tracks akin to the original’s are augmented and developed using the techniques Yamaoka has perfected throughout the series’ run, and hints at further developments. Many of the tracks are shorter than usual, however, and loops and fade-outs are more prominent than in the more connected Silent Hill scores, and the placement of the McGlynn songs at the beginning and end of the album, a pair in each location, leaves them feeling disconnected from the rest of the album. After completing this score, Yamaoka left Konami, leaving this as his last Silent Hill score. In synthesizing the old and the new, it is an excellent final chapter.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Ben Schweitzer. Last modified on August 1, 2012.