preview: LA NOIRE

Our next show is coming up on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. As the show approaches, some of the Beta Testers are going to chime in here to talk about the music we’ll be featuring at the concert. This is Doug’s short preview on and around LA NOIRE

I’m a big fan of noir. As film style, it provides a really fascinating counterpoint to America’s narrative of the Greatest Generation. Behind America’s Golden Age success story is tragedy, scandal, and lots of foggy dark alleys.  While the rest of the country basked in its post-war optimistic sunshine, noir is where pessimism went to hide during the night.

Truthfully, I get my noir fix a little more frequently from cultural products other than films. Pessimistic hard-boiled crime novels, at their best, just have a way with words that push all the right buttons for me. If you’re looking for a suspenseful downer or two, I can’t recommend enough David Markson’s Harry Fannin novels. Currently, I’m really digging Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Fatale, which is a cross between crime fiction and Lovecraftian horror. Its messy and complicated and one of my favorite monthly comic reads at the moment. You can play catch up if you pick up the trade paperbacks.

Both of those examples perfectly capture the noir atmosphere, which is what I look for in defining the style. That, in a nutshell, was my problem with LA NOIRE. It was too often bright and clean. The game more frequently pushed towards horror than suspense. For some reason, running people over with your car in sunny LA didn’t feel grim, but routine.

I don’t want to give any plot details away because the game was fun to play, and the story snakes around various parts of LA’s lawbreakers extremely well. Team Bondi also found the perfect game mechanic to unveil their unprecedented face detail by making you identify facial tics to suss out liars. As a game, LA NOIRE definitely played well. I just didn’t think the visual elements captured the noir style as well as they could have.

But the music! The musical cues were by and large great. Both the tracks they brought in from the post war jazz world and the soundtrack written for the game felt authentic to noir. I re-worked the main theme to be a cool and dark feature for Mark on the alto saxophone. It rubs a little Taxi Driver dirt into the rainy LA night.

Come see us play the music from LA NOIRE and more on February 2nd at the First Unitarian Church. Tell your friends! Advanced tickets are cheaper than at the door!
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