Akira Yamaoka – Silent Hill 2 Original Video Game Soundtrack (Mondo remaster)

5 out of 5

Label: Mondo

Produced by: James Plotkin (vinyl mastering)

As great as I find the Silent Hill soundtrack to be, and as much of an impossible improvement as I found Mondo’s remaster of it to be, Mondo’s remaster of Silent Hill 2… bests them both.

The score itself is, already, a work of genius: Akira Yamaoka (oddly not credited on the Mondo remasters, internet chatter suggesting this as an unfortunately standard licensing deal…) takes his approach from the original game, of moody and ominous keys and strings and then harsh attacks of industrial noise and makes actual songs out of it; an actual album.  SH1 featured some incredibly memorable compositions broken up by cues and lots of ambience.  While there’s music / material in the SH2 game that’s not on this score – meaning some of those cues and whatnot could be left out – the compositional shift towards fuller, more fleshed out tunes is apparent just from the more frequent appearance of band arrangements, with guitars and drums.  That might send a red flag up, if, like me, you kinda loved the mysterious, floaty affair of the original game’s tunes, but that’s where Yamaoka’s genius comes in: we get a more “rock” sound that somehow stays truly rooted to the established Silent Hill themes, along with fresh variations on haunting, town-wandering tones and creeping, edgy beats.

James Plotkin’s mastering takes this to a wonderful level of fidelity on Mondo’s vinyl, which also has some well-chosen dye patterns for the LPs, and – though some have understandably criticized it for being sort of overly digital – well-designed art that I think both fits the game and allows Mondo to put their own spin to a SH-Universe contribution.