Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Soundtrack Suggestion: Silent Hill 3 - Akira Yamaoka & Interlace

Silent Hill 3
by Akira Yamaoka & Interlace

The third Silent Hill soundtrack deserves a lot of love.  And yes, just so it is clear, this is the soundtrack to the game, NOT the movies.   But I will admit, I felt frustrated with many of the tracks in this album.

With twenty five tracks, which is almost an hour and fifteen minutes of music, this soundtrack has the great disturbing qualities of the first two, but the reusable and less intrusive mood building tracks that can make a game heart-pounding.  But sadly, this also is the composers foray into adding vocal tracks, and I felt he kinda got too excited with that given how many tracks here sound better had there been NO vocals in it.     For those who aren't aware of the game's storyline, Silent Hill 3 is set seventeen years after the events of the first (not the second) Silent Hill game.  The young child which the protagonist in the first game finds has grown up to be Heather, a brave teenage girl who learns that the cult may have actually ALLOWED her to be taken for their fiendish purposes.

The opening track, Lost Carol (Track 01) is a haunting a Capella thirty-seven second vocal track by Melissa Williamson (she's Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in other sources). The track is loopable and deliciously vibrant with just enough sadness to fit say a scene of characters overlooking a scene of devestation, or a montage of images of brutal violence, or even a sleeping child floating in zero gravity.  The next track,  You're Not Here (Track 02) is the first of many vocal tracks which breaks the approach of the first few Silent Hill soundtracks.   These songs may or may not prove useful to game masters, depending on how they feel towards tracks that actually have lyrics.  I personally only use such songs to represent "credits" rolling when a game ends.  Understandable lyrics confuse, complicate or distract players in my opinion.  Or worse, get them to sing along rather than feel the mood.   Please Love Me.. Once More (Track 08) is a terrific track that works really well as your "things are still normal" track.  And yes, it nicely loops good.  There's a progressive attitude to the track that suggests the players are "doing something right" and we all know we want our players in a horror game to "think" they have a chance, right?  Innocent Moon (Track 10) is one minute and thirty-eight seconds of disturbing sounds and soft piano keys that nicely builds tension without resorting to shock value.  Sadly, looping works but becomes obvious given its slight shift in tension level.  Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me (Track 14) is a personal fave of mine.  The song makes me thing of being lost, feeling hope fading, and yet not necessarily feel like I am in danger.  It resonates a sadness for me with its synthesized keys.  It uses a repeating melody nicely, almost music box in appeal without being typical.  Walk On Vanity Ruins (Track 16) makes me quickly think noir mystery.  It would have been perfect had it not been for the choice of adding some background vocals taken from the game. Thankfully, if you play it low enough, just to resonate but not overwhelm players, the vocals sounds like just random echoes.  Hometown (Track 24) is a terrific rescoring of the surprise intro song from the first soundtrack to have male vocals (by Joe Romersa).  

But again.  This is a review for gaming.  So yeah, so many tracks that could have been more useful.  I love the soundtrack, I have to repeat that.  I really love it.  But I sadly feel unless you like the music itself, this might be a soundtrack to skip if you're just looking at it for gaming.

Silent Hill 3 OST track suggestions
WTF moment: Clockwork Little Happiness (Track 07), A Stray Child (Track 09), Innocent Moon (Track 10), Prayer (Track 15), Heads #2 (Track 18), Memory Of The Waters (Track 19), Flower Crown of Poppy (Track 21)
Introspective/calm moment:   Lost Carol (Track 01), Float Up From Dream (Track 03 - game vocals), End of Small Sanctuary (Track 04), Dance With Night Wind (Track 13), I Want Love (Studio Mix) (Track 24 - vocals)
Tense/mystery moment: Breeze In Monochrome Night (Track 05), Sickness Unto Foolish Death (Track 06), Maternal Heart (Track 11), Walk On Vanity Ruins (Track 16 - game vocals), Rain of Brass Petals (Track 20)
Hopeful moment: You're Not Here (Track 02 - vocal), Please Love Me... Once More (Track 08), Hometown (Track 23 - vocals)
Drama/sad moment: Letter From The Lost Days (Track 12 - vocal), Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me (Track 14), I Want Love (Track 17 - vocals), Sun (Track 21 - purely game vocal track), Uneternal Sleep (Track 22)

Best Used In: Modern horror games.  Or games that twist reality and perception.  The vocal tracks can work nicely to give the game a television show appeal (if you want to run games that feel like episodes of Supernatural, Buffy, and the like).

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