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:
- Room of Angel by Akira Yamaoka and Elizabeth McGlynn. Played in Silent Hill 4 as well as Ringu: Birthday 0.
- Stray Child by Akira Yamaoka from Silent Hill 3.
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,
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.