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:
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
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
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
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
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.