One of the most timeless features of the Silent Hill video game series is the haunting soundtrack that, while of course containing disturbing pieces meant to terrify the player during frightening scenes, also has some rather beautiful pieces reminiscent of pleasant dreams. One of those pieces is “Pianissimo Epilogue” from Silent Hill 2, a lush piano based melody played at the end of the game when the rank and finishing stats screen appears.

During one of my many random escapades across the web, I found out from the Silent Hill fanbase that “Pianissimo Epilogue” inspired the creation of another song, by the German artist Ali As. That song is “Richtung Lichtung”, an existential love ballad about how even if the world is ending, companionship is all you need to keep going.

The first time I listened to “Richtung Lichtung”, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the unmissable tune of “Pianissimo Epilogue” playing softly as the backbeat. I was quickly enraptured by the music video’s monochrome, haunting imagery, and it’s become one of my favorite songs to play.

I’ve toyed with various online dictionaries, and as a result, I think the title is supposed to be translated as “Towards the Clearing”. The word “Richtung” translates as “directional”, while “Lichtung” translates to “clearing”.

I tried to find an English translation of the lyrics, and unfortunately failed. Because I was desperate, I ran the German lyrics through Google Translate, expecting the result to likely be far off the mark.

The original German lyrics can be found here, courtesy of Genius.com.

These are the English lyrics that Google Translate gave me:

Stanza 1:

All the peaks are gone, all the steps have been taken

No living creature has escaped science

Every river was bridged, every sea was crossed

Every currency is worth nothing, every mistake is noticed

All the data are on chips, all questions are off the table

The history books, they do not wait for you

We hunt through the streets when daylight goes out

All fabrics are consumed, all colors are blurred

All the stars are explored, all values are overboard

Every flock was murdered, and the earth was withered

I do not want to die in this place

But with you in a holiday resort

No limits in thinking, there were already people in space

But we are constantly fighting, running in a burning forest

We have no names, we are numbers in the system

But with your radiance I can overcome all the pain

 

Chorus:

The world is so great

And we are so small

But you’re going with me

We are no longer alone

No, we are running towards the clearing

Leave everything behind us and do not turn around

Towards the clearing

Towards the clearing

 

Stanza 2:

All records are cracked, the resources are running out

All the love songs have already been made

One day you wake up and your future is faded

I hope I left a few traces

How should one shine in the shadow of this skyscraper?

Question where did we landed here and should that be so?

All the codes are deciphered, but the puzzles are not solved

Sometimes the paths are mysterious

All the opinions are silenced, all the books are dusty

Every king was crowned, all the palaces were built

We do not stand on the gate

Probably we look like extremists

Gone by the time I write mourning songs

Because I – because I break down every wall for you 

No slaves without names, no numbers in the system

In your arms I can now see the sun again

 

(chorus)

 

Stanza 3:

We are heading towards the clearing of the sun

We follow a river and later we reach the sea

Even if you feel as if the gears are too narrow for you

This only happens in your head, because no boundaries are real

No wall is too high, no grief is too great

Even if you wake up, your dream has paid off

No statement wrong, no task too heavy

The best times unattainable, but we run after

No route is too long, no paths are too far

No plans are in vain, no tears that you cry

No wishes that you have, so we look forward 

No image forgotten and no puzzles lost

No steps throw you back, the direction does not matter

No shadow will remain forever when the clearing is shining before you

All the wounds are forgotten, all scars are healed

In your arms I sleep again

 

(chorus)

Analysis

As the anime nerd that I am, several of the lyrics here remind me of major themes in the series Attack on Titan, a brutal anime/manga about humanity forced to live behind walls in fear of the monstrous, man-eating Titans lurking just outside, especially the line “no wall is too high, no grief is too great”. Several of the main characters ache to go beyond the Walls and to the ocean beyond, especially a boy named Armin, who’s been fascinated with the world beyond the Walls ever since he was a child.

It’s clear through the lyrics that the singer understands his world is dying, and that his reality is dismal. Even still, as signified by the last line in each stanza, he believes that with his lover by his side, he can overcome any pain or trauma.

The Love of James and Mary Sunderland

In regards to Silent Hill 2, it’s possible that Ali As was inspired by the protagonist, James Sunderland, and his grief over the death of his wife, Mary, who suffered from a debilitating terminal illness. Without spoiling too much, James goes to the mysterious and fog-filled town of Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his already dead wife that she’s waiting there in the city, aching for her husband to find her. What results is a sad mystery, steadily unraveling into an alarming revelation about the truth surrounding Mary’s death, and the vast mix of emotions that James felt for her as he watched her suffer from her terminal illness.

James aches more than anything else to be reunited with Mary, and it’s that deep longing that gives him the courage to face every aberration and anomaly that he encounters within Silent Hill. At one point in the game, James willingly jumps down numerous seemingly bottomless pits, just so that he can get closer to finding Mary. He doesn’t rest until he reaches the last stage of the game, where he finally accepts the truth about what happened to his wife, and the game ends according with his decisions throughout the story.

It’s possible that his desire to be in the arms of his wife once more is what inspired the main theme of “Richtung Lichtung”, a song about desperately searching for peace in a ruined world, with your soulmate by your side.