Silent Hill Zero Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill Zero Original Soundtracks
January 25, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
Silent Hill Zero (known internationally as Silent Hill: Origins) was the first Silent Hill game to be developed by an external company. This prequel for the PSP was plagued by production problems, and finally released in 2007 after the disasterous Silent Hill movie. Konami published the game, which was developed by the UK-based Climax Studios. Although the production was outdourced, the music was not, and Akira Yamaoka was brought back to score the new game, bringing with him his usual collaborator, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Konami released the score through their own label, and again as a part of the Silent Hill Sounds Box.
The story of Silent Hill Zero fills in the background that proceeded the first and third games. Unlike Silent Hill 2 or The Room, it is closely connected to the series’ overarching plot elements. The soundtrack is also connected to that of the first game, and the music here is certainly closer to “ambient” than the preceding two scores, but it is not simply noise music. In style Zero’s music is closest to 3’s, but it contains elements from all of its predecessors. The emphasis is shifted once again towards the synthetic, but piano is present surprisingly often. Most importantly, however, the soundtrack feels more connected than The Room’s.
The soundtrack opens with a song from McGlynn, per tradition. “Shot Down in Flames” is a hard rock song, but the shuffling 6/8 rhythm is more more reminiscent of folk or country. This same rhythm makes a reappearance in “Murder Song ‘S'”, where it underlies a collection of synth pads. A brief but effective transition follows. A similar dragging rhythm appears in “Acid Horse”, a mostly noise track. Electronic loops akin to Perfect Dark appear in “Meltdown” and “Battle Drums”. Likewise, the improvisatory piano line that guides “Wrong is Right” through the swell and ebb of its atmosphere resurfaces in spirit in the similar line at the beginning of “O.R.T.”, a trip-hop song with a sparse arrangement of electronics that seems never to rise above a whisper. When its last chord is sounded, and “Insecticide” begins, it feels more like an extension of the same atmosphere than a seperate piece.
In this way, many of the tracks are connected more by association than by shared musical material. The atmosphere behind the guitar improvisation in “Don’t Abuse Me” seems to build directly into the harsh, cold opening chord of “Underworld 4”. The fragmentation of the tracks themselves helps in this; while the opening rhythm loop of “A Million Miles” has little in common with the following “Battle Drums”, the piano line at its end connects the two. As a result, the album feels spontaneous. Even the tracks in the middle of the album seem like organic extensions of the rest of the music. Notice how the opening rhythm loop of “Blow Back” is of a piece with the rest of the album’s music. Unlike “O.R.T.”, it features guitar, but everything else in the backing is synthetic, and even its form, cut off suddenly at its end, resembles the ambient tracks.
Of course, the music is intimately connected with the rest of the series as well. The complex interlocking rhythms in “The Healer” call The Room to mind, while the echoing guitar line in “Snowblind” recalls Silent Hill 2, as do the subtly morphing synth tones of “Theme of Sabre Dance”. The emphasis on wandering piano lines resembles Silent Hill 3. The “Not Tomorrow” tracks are, in name and style, an extension of the first game’s score, as is the sudden interruption of a synchopated rhythm loop with a long synth chord of ambiguous tonality in “Drowning”. The album’s closing song, “Hole in the Sky”, is a rock song with some hints of metal that could have easily been sung by Joe Romersa instead of McGlynn, and it presages the opening track for the next game’s score.
The development of Silent Hill Zero may have been outsourced, but the music was not, and its score is, along with that of Silent Hill 2, one of the most cohesive in the series. Yamaoka crafted a very fine album that stands along with the best of the series in its depth and breadth. The music is not very melodic and relies primarily on texture and atmosphere, but while the individual tracks are not as impressive as those in 2, 3, or The Room, the listening experience as a whole is just as rewarding.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Ben Schweitzer. Last modified on August 1, 2012.