There are some sounds that can instantly strike fear into our hearts. The creaking of floorboards, the hiss of an agitated animal, or the low moan of some otherworldly creature are all noises that register on the list of stressful sounds. For me, the certain strumming of a mandolin causes immediate anxiety.
Right from the start of Silent Hill, the sound is off-putting. A mandolin is not your typical stringed instrument and hearing it filtered in such a way makes the entire experience feel ancient and uncomfortable.
A breezy guitar theme soon enters, hopefully to soften the blow, but the entire song seems strange; like the sort of thing that would play from an old record that has been warped over time. Without the mandolin creeping in and out of the track, this would be a pleasant soft-rock ballad, but maybe that is exactly what composer Akira Yamaoka was trying to portray. A town that had the potential to be wholesome and normal, but horrors on the fringes kept creeping in and twisting the entire world.
For many of my friends, other uncomfortable sounds are the trademarks of the Silent Hill series- the scraping of metal on concrete or the moist steps of bare flesh against stained tile. But for me, the noise of that cursed town will always be the telltale strum of a mandolin.