Akira Yamaoka: True Genius.

Akira Yamaoka is one of my favorite musicians and thriller video games composer. His tracks are of ambient, industrial and rock genres. He is most famous for the music he composed for Silent Hill and its sequels. He also did work for other video games like Contra, Vandal Hearts, Dance Dance Mania, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, to name a few.

Mr. Yamaoka is from Nigata, Japan. He graduated from Tokyo Art College, where he did his bachelors in product design and interior design.

For me, Mr. Yamaoka is a genius with talents that only a few people can possess. Konami proudly gives him credit and accolade for the brilliant work he’s done and is still doing for them. In an interview with Music4Games, he explained how his work is composed rather differently as compared to other composers:

M4G: Given your background in product design and interior design, how did you come to write music for games? How do you apply the arts of product/interior design to the art of music?

Yamaoka: Based on my background, I use a different approach to music composition. It’s like creating a painting or a drawing; I multiple colors to paint a single picture. I combine colors to make music as opposed to thinking of the individual notes and melodies. It’s more about feelings and atmosphere.

Yamaoka sets his imagination free when he produces such work. If you ask Yamaoka-fans, they speak of him as some sort of deity. Sometimes, for me, it also seems the same. I always lose myself when his music plays. Two songs that I would suggest you all to listen to are given here:

The lyrics for his songs are usually of atmospheric nature. Here’s an instance from Rain of Brass Petals:

I am the second
Alone in a faceless crowd
A human caught
In monochrome dreams
I scream to wake up
My voice drowns deep underground
Only the dead can hear me,
See me.

Once asked by a fan whether his work was only to ‘scare’ video gamers while players, Mr. Yamaoka replied, “I don’t like scaring. I think disturbing someone is far more lethal. As soon as an individual loses his composure and is potentially disturbed by a sound, the more fun the game gets.”

Man, this guy is a genius. I love Akira Yamaoka.

The genius at work.
The genius at work.

21 thoughts on “Akira Yamaoka: True Genius.

  1. The insightful appraisal provided herein was a refreshing outburst for ardent followers of the gaming world,including myself…Despite there being the highest improbability of the invocation of fear through a rather limited medium like video games, the artist’s rendition has overthrown this supposition and has verily sought to involve the player in a living microcosm of his own creation wherein a plethora of emotional ramifications abound there is no other option but to encounter soul chilling and psychedelically riddled phases of conscious and unconscious phases of fright and discord.

  2. wow. you are a true japanese lover. i just read this article and listened to the two songs you recommended. i loved it. where do you get these kind of songs from? please tell, i really want to get into this. ^_^;

  3. @Amber:
    You got that right. Yamaoka manages to play brilliantly with our minds. Glad to know you you’re into this too. I’m sure you’ve tried his other tracks. The guy rules, no? Thank you for giving your insight. :]

  4. @Otaku:
    Greetings to another otaku. ^^; Glad you liked the two other songs. I usually try ambient tracks. That’s how I get hold of awesome shitz0rz like this. I can give you more links.

  5. i would love that. i read your other articles and i loved them. you do have a thing for art. i haven’t seen that a lot in other pakistani girls. anime fan, too?

  6. True anime fan, bud. You should try Hitomi songs. She sings beautifully. And, well, it’s not evil and sinister like Yamaoka’s work but it has a peaceful, serene touch to it.

  7. Yamaoka is my fourth favorite game music composer. Right behind Koh Ohtani, Harry Gregson-Williams and Uematsu Nobuo and right ahead of Tetsuya Shibata. Intriguingly though, apart from HGW all of them happen to be Japanese ^^ .

  8. Nobuo and Ohtani are my favorites too. And, I know, isn’t that cool? Japanese are truly awesome. Evil genius people. Nippon Banzai!

  9. Well, even HGW broke through the list only because of his work with Kubrick of video-games — Hideo Kojima. Japanese games predominantly exhibit much higher artistic value than their American counter-parts. The level of detail and intellect included in Metal Gear Solid games or the level of craft embedded in Shadow of the Colossus would never ever have been existent in an American production.

    P.S.: Or the level of absurdity found in Japanese porn. They even have storylines like: One guy is trapped in an elevator with dozen of chicks and they’re hungry and he has some food and they all bang him. Beat that :( !

  10. haha.

    Like I said, Japanese are awesome. These people, if given the chance and platform, give birth to miracles. They know how to play with your head and heart at the same time. (Sometimes I think they’ll rule the world one day. I wouldn’t mind.)

    Memories by Koh Ohtani is beautiful. And you’re right: The level of detail these people give to their work is immaculate. Unbelievable.

  11. nicely done, but i am not into japanese music as much as games, producers like capcom, square soft (formerly square enix), konami, nintendo and namco have dominated all of my childhood and teenage years with mind numbing games/game tracks.. i am still caught humming them somtimes.

    Japenese have mastered the art of RPG’s, FPS, arcade, action adventure, 1v1 fighting and MMO’S yet there is still one genre that they lack namely, RTS. Blizzard definitely has a class of its own when it comes to RTS with super hits like SC I and II, Diablo I-IV and my all time fav. Warcraft series.

  12. I guess I’ll agree with the RTS observation you gave. Though the article given above was completely related as to how geniuses like Yamaoka compose music and leave listeners lost in another time-zone, mind-frame, whatchamacallit.

    You should try a few Yamaoka, Nobuo and Ohtani tracks. I’m quite sure you’ll like them. :]

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