Rockstar Games has never suffered for want of good soundtracks. Anyone who remembers hearing Mr. Mister in the opening cinematic of Vice City, or picking up the clips of Scarface music in Grand Theft Auto III, knows that when it comes to setting the tone and mood of their games, Rockstar really is at the head of the pack. So really, it should come as little surprise to know that the L.A. Noire Official Soundtrack and the supplemental L.A. Noire//Remixed albums are nothing short of amazing ear candy.
L.A. Noire//Remixed — $4.99
The scant, six-song supplemental to the OST is easily the gem of the collection. Providing subtle remixes of classic ’40s songs, the album effectively transports you to a dimly lit, wood-paneled cigar bar, far away from the fluorescent bulbs of your desk, or the noise of the highway. I say “subtle” remixes because the artists have maintained the original feel of the songs while adding slightly modern twists. Gene Krupa’s “Sing Sing Sing,” as remixed by Truth and Soul, is easily the highlight of the album, and instilled within me a desire to replace my keyboard with a typewriter and have my most productive work week in months. Dinah Washington’s “A Slick Chick” (as remixed by David Andrew Sitek) has long been a staple of period pieces and loses little in the way of dance-ability. Billie Holiday’s iconic “That Ole Devil Called Love” gets an effectively sultry, smooth remix by Moodymann that made me pine for a dirty martini, work protocol be damned.
Overall, the album serves as both zone-out, background music, but also something I would throw in my car, and most definitely something I would use a dinner party soundtrack. Not only does it invoke the feeling of the game, it involves a nice retro-vibe that definitely appeals to my inner music snob.
L.A. Noire Official Soundtrack — $11.99
There are two types of good instrumental soundtracks: those that are good because you have seen the movie or played the game, and each song invokes the exact scene and dialog from the movie, but for those who have not seen the movie, the soundtrack falls flat. The Bulletstorm and Star Craft II soundtracks fall into this category. Then there are soundtracks that regardless of whether or not you have seen the movie or played the game, the music still resonates with you and you can enjoy it as music rather than music from the movie/game. L.A. Noire Official Soundtrack falls into the latter category.
Providing a delightfully moody, unmistakably ’40s feel, the music is jazzy and slick, without feeling like it’s trying too hard. That is to say, the music never feels like it’s ’40s by way of 2011, but rather, actually from the time period. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto III, for instance, had a similar jazzy feel to some of its music, but it felt more modern than does L.A. Noire.
Some of the songs are, admittedly, reliant upon the game play. But, we’re talking about four or five songs that I felt were enjoyable by context as opposed to for the sake of the music, but four or five out of twenty-plus songs is not a bad track record. It’s very effective background, zone-out music, and easily my new favorite for mindless tasks at work.
Of the vocal offerings, Claudia Brucken does a great job at period-inspired vocals and songs that also provide a swanky feel to the album.
I have always loved video game soundtracks, and am often championing them as equal to movie soundtracks. I feel comfortable recommending either the Official Soundtrack or the Remixed versions to those who have played the games, and people who are merely fans of the sound of the ’40s. Anyone from the latter certainly owes it to themselves to check out the Remixed album at the very least.