Grand Theft Auto V
Volume 2: The score – GTA V is the first in the series to feature its own original dynamic music score, which kicks in as a response to the player’s actions during missions and while free roaming in the expansive open world. For this volume, DJ Shadow remixes the game’s musical score, featuring music from legendary composer Woody Jackson and renowned hip-hop producer The Alchemist.
‘Grand Theft Auto’ Jacks the New York Film Festival

Rockstar Games, the company behind megaselling new vidgame release “Grand Theft Auto V,” and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have teamed up for a group of events that will be part of the New York Film Festival’s Convergence programming, including discussion panels and a live concert of music drawn from “GTAV.”

Performers on tap for the concert include game composers Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson and hip-hop producers the Alchemist and Oh No.
All of the songs on the score had some electronic aspect. Some songs like “We Were Set Up” have overriding rock components, while some tracks like “North Yankton Memories” almost have a Crystal Castles vibe. Every song is quintessentially GTA, you visualize yourself cruising Los Santos in your low-rider sipping lean.

As for the show, the Church had an almost psychedelic atmosphere under the purple and red stage lights with scenes from the game being projected on a screen behind the musicians. The band was more of a hip-hop orchestra. There were strings, guitarists, percussionists, guitarists, and even a conductor, but with the unorthodox element of Alchemist and Oh No on mixing boards.

They played almost non-stop for a about an hour. The church’s acoustics intensified their sound; spacing out watching the video from the game playing behind them with the music washing over you almost transported you into the atmosphere of the game. Everyone was sitting back in the pews just listening, or in another word appreciating, Tangerine Dream, the Alchemist, and Woody Jackson’s amazingly well-crafted music.
For Grand Theft Auto V the billing is music by Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist, Oh No & DJ Shadow. It truly is an ensamble piece. This group of composers had to make Los Santos come alive, make the characters feel as they exist and paint the tone for the whole game and all the areas of the city. They succeeded immensely.

Woody Jackson has become an amazing Rockstar anchor, and his presence has elevated the Rockstar music family greatly.

Everything comes together in a bliss of electronic textures and instruments working in harmony to paint a crispy cool urban sprawl.
Last night I sat in the Church of St. John the Apostle and watched Grammy award winning musician Om’Mas Keith conduct GTA V score composers Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist, and Oh No — as well as an ensemble of backup musicians — through a performance of songs from the game. Behind them, a giant screen played slow-motion game footage, and recessed strobe lights cast an ethereal glow on icons and statues of Jesus.

It was epic.

The sold-out event shows just how far video game music has come in the past few decades. Twenty years ago music was almost an afterthought; For GTA V, the musicians composed twenty hours of music for the game’s missions, and even more for the single-player and multiplayer modes.
The guys involved with the GTA soundtrack put everything into it and created something truly special
The soundtrack to GTA V is fantastic as always and is definitely a contender for my favourite yet. The radio stations have almost every genre of music on offer – although there is no classical option this time around. This is also the first entry in the series to feature an original score. To work on the score, Rockstar North brought in American Rapper/Producers Alchemist & Oh No and German electro group Tangerine Dream on board with Woody Jackson, who had collaborated with the team on three previous projects, Red Dead Redemption, L.A Noire and Max Payne 3. The score is used during missions and really adds weight to certain important levels and choices you make throughout the course of the game.
Volume 2: The Score is all Tangerine Dream with Oh No, DJ Shadow, Woody Jackson and The Alchemist. There’s a lot of really good things happening here. Fast paced stuff like A Haze of Patriotic Fervor and Minor Turbulence are really fun to listen to. Great driving songs which, considering the soundtrack, might be the point. Slow burners like Hillbilly Crank Dealers’ Blues and A Bit of an Awkward Situation are also kind of irresistible. The remainder is quite soundtrack-y for which I’ll use words like moody and cinematic to describe, but you know, with over 60 soundtracks (!) under their belts, would you expect any less from these guys? It’s a good thing.

Push Start Play
Richard Lee Breslin

Fast forward to recent Rockstar Classics, Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire, both of which had amazing original scores composed by Woody Jackson. Both of these games were set in totally different eras, Red Dead Redemption in the old wild west and LA Noire post World War 2. Other then the visual settings, the essence of both respected eras were captured in purity by Woody Jackson and both games can boast one of the best original scores in recent times. So with news coming to our attention that GTA V will also now have an original score composed by Woody Jackson (as well as real classic tunes), this news is music to our ears.

Push Start Play
Haris Iqbal

Furthermore, Woody Jackson especially, has the tendency to create really exciting scores, one that definitely fuels the gameplay. To get what I mean, try listening to Horseplay from Red Dead Redemption above. It has this very interesting rhythm to it that, although subtle, packs a punch. I will be glad, if you hear music like this playing during chase scenes, but I wouldn’t be surprised!

LA Weekly: Woody Jackson Helped Score Grand Theft Auto, But
That’s the Least of It
By Jeff Weiss

Woody Jackson, one of the composers of the score for Grand Theft Auto V, explains his success:

“All you need is a good room, great musicians and a concept,” Jackson says at Vox Recording Studios, the analog Valhalla he runs on Melrose Avenue. It’s reputed to be the oldest studio that’s not open to the public in the United States.

Jackson’s reasoning might be true, but it doesn’t quite capture why his co-composers, psychedelic hip-hop producers the Alchemist and Oh No, refer to the guitar virtuoso as “the illest.” Or why Academy Award winner T Bone Burnett recruited Jackson to help craft the music for the first season of ABC’s Nashville.

“If I’d known that I’d work with T Bone Burnett, it probably would’ve spared me 20 years of negativity; I could’ve just waited for the dream to come true. He told me that I reminded him of Link Wray and Neil Young,” Jackson says, laughing. “I said I’d heard that before: out of time and out of tune.”

If you saw him in the street, Jackson might seem an unlikely suspect to orchestrate a video game centered on armed robbery and prostitute pillaging. He sports a light brown goatee, black plastic glasses and work boots, gray slacks and a ranch-style button-up shirt. He’s in his early 40s, happily married, the father of a 3-year-old.

His score wields an aggressive yet smooth blend of Krautrock, funk, ambient and brick-smashing instrumental rap. Like the game itself, it has largely received raves. The website Consequence of Sound compared the music — done by Jackson, Tangerine Dream, Alchemist and Oh No — to iconic soundtracks from Quentin Tarantino movies, as well as Shaft, Beverly Hills Cop and Drive.

In its first three days on the market, the game grossed a billion dollars — instantly making Jackson one of the most-heard composers on Earth.

Truth be told, Jackson possesses an exceptional combination of talent, persistence and patience. Raised in small cities in Pennsylvania and Virginia, he grew up wanting to be Tom Waits. While studying at Virginia State, he received harmonica lessons and voodoo warnings from an old-time blues picker turned college instructor. He later transferred to study under legendary jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis Jr.

When Jackson ran out of money, he dropped out and played guitar in The Useless Playboys, a junk blues band whose apex was touring America opening for The Reverend Horton Heat. Jackson moved to L.A. from Richmond, Va., shortly after the 1992 riots. He worked at McCabe’s Guitar Shop for years, collaborated with Vincent Gallo and earned his keep as a session player on film scores including The Devil Wears Prada and Ocean’s Twelve.

Jackson’s breakthrough came four years ago, when Rock Star Games conscripted him to score Red Dead: Redemption and later, L.A. Noire. His work on the former netted him a Spike Video Game Award for Best Original Score.

He simultaneously took over the storied-but-in-shambles Vox Studios, bringing in a collection of vintage gear that would shame most used-music stores. There’s a grand piano played by Duke Ellington and Count Basie; kalimbas, hand drums and ancient Farfisa organs. He spontaneously picks up a 1942 Gibson guitar and unleashes a rumbling, outlaw country riff.

The spot’s history includes sessions with everyone from Charlie Parker and Nat King Cole to Jack Benny. Vampire Weekend recorded here last month.

“I’m trying to respect the past but not ignore the present. I always try to approach music with an open mind, like a newborn baby, where everything is always fresh,” Jackson says. “When it leads to happy accidents, music can be a really magical thing.”

Akira Yamaoka (composer of Silent Hill)
“Within videogames themselves I particularly enjoy the work of Woody Jackson, composer on Red Dead Redemption. We’ve become friends over the years and I really like his music, he’s a great composer.”

LA Noire
Games Catalyst
Reminiscent of Bernard Hermann, Jerry Goldsmith or Adolph Deutsch’s noir classics, full of flugelhorn, saxophones, clarinets, uneasy orchestral strings and even the odd vibraphone, the presentation of the game is as perfect as a Raymond Chandler simile.

A score that evokes the style of some of the great composers of film noir–weave an intoxicating spell that’s sure to stir the heart of anyone with a fondness for 1940’s style.

The soundtrack and sound design are superb. Music is straight out of the era and sets the tone of the game. Also, the soundtrack is classic and comes straight from the Film Noir movies that some of us know and love.

The Emipre State Gamer
The atmosphere the music provides is priceless

The Well Versed
The music in LA Noire is probably the best music I’ve heard in game. While the sounds of LA Noire do a great job of setting the tone, they also come in handy during two of the games major game mechanics, investigating and interrogating.

Red Dead Redemption
The Huffington Post
Red Dead’s soundtrack, composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, is exceptional–a deft homage to the traditional Western with its own character. Twangy and understated most of the time, it becomes edgy when danger is afoot, and pulsates when the bullets are flying. It can stand with the soundtrack of any major cinematic production.

Film Music Media
Bill Elm & Woody Jackson’s score to Red Dead Redemption can be labeled as if Ennio Morricone’s music had a baby with Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’ music and it was raised by Quentin Tarantino….You could hear a snippet of this music and immediately think “Red Dead Redemption”
It is exhilarating stuff, a perfect matching of action and audio that recalls the partnership of Leone and Morricone. But this is a video game, and the choreography of soundtrack and story is happening on the fly. Red Dead Redemption is awash with moments like this.

The story is the best kind of Sergio Leone pulp — including hyper-Ennio Moricone score — mashed with Sam Peckinpah brutality and touches of Eastwood. It’s a boyhood fantasy realized.

Redemption’s soundtrack, skillfully composed by musicians Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, admirably channels Ennio Morricone’s work on Sergio Leone’s classic Dollars trilogy, with finely assembled whistles, harmonicas, and trumpets subtly commanding the game’s onscreen action.
The soundtrack mixes between ambient sounds and actual musical score. The ambient effects are quite good at conveying the mix of civilization and wilderness that is the West. The galloping of horses and the sounds of other wildlife — antelope, bears, buzzards and rabbits — breathe life into your surroundings, as does the creaking of wooden wagons and stagecoaches. The conversations in town add to the ambiance and ensure that there are more important things in the world for the NPCs. When the score kicks in, it rides the line between classic spaghetti Western and modern Western sensibilities, providing the right mood whether it’s a dramatic or action-filled sequence or if you’re just galloping through the countryside on your steed. It becomes complementary rather than overpowering, mixing in well with the effects and voices. Speaking of voices, the acting is well done. Both the major and minor characters turn in good performances, and there’s plenty of conversation during most non-story-related game moments, though some characters tend to repeat a few lines during combat. Overall, the sound is worth turning up the speakers

The Wounded Jukebox
Bill Elm and Woody Jackson will all repeatedly knock your socks off.Skip the game if you must, but do buy the soundtrack. It’s absolutely amazing stuff.
And where there’s lightning, soon follows thunder; Red Dead Redemption’s spectacular audio design also deserves recognition. Each meticulously crafted soundscape is an intricate patchwork of pitch-perfect audio cues that seamlessly integrate with Bill Elm and Woody Jackson’s dynamic musical score. As John rides the range, guitar chords and whistled melodies float in and out like tiny bursts of color, humble homemade fireworks against a vast, open sky.
Their way of keeping themselves rooted in the traditional sound and feel of the West while adding contemporary nuances here and there is what really makes the Red Dead Redemption score…

Behold the Destroyer
Not since the days of nerding out hard on the soundtrack from Metroid have I enjoyed the music from a video game as much as Red Dead Redemption’s score….It’s full of mood and dread but still has the triumphant horns that make you feel like you could kill mad people if you need to…..Luz Y Sombra is a slow contemplative bordering on sad joint which taken out of the context of this soundtrack would feel super appropriate in a jazzy noir scene. It’s got that slow burning feel where you forget that jazz can sometimes be a lil stuffy, a lil pretentious and instead you just listen to a dude let his horn do work. Think Miles on Kind Of Blue or maybe the less spastic moments of the Chicago Underground Duo

Composers Bill Elm and Woody Jackson have brought the Western musical genre into the present, doing two notable things most Western soundtrack composers don’t: heavily incorporating both contemporary musical influences and musical influences from the time period their story takes place in………The end result is a lesson in what fusion should sound like. Elm and Jackson’s skills have even created a handful of acid jazz-fueled tracks that would sound at home on Lalo Schiffrin’s score for Bullitt, or even on The A-Team – but don’t sound out of place here, on an album for a Wild West video game released in 2010……..Red Dead Redemption (OST) is a basically perfect record. For music lovers, soundtrack aficionados, and anyone who likes a good Western, this is something well worth looking up regardless of whether or not you’d play the game.

The Brainy Gamer
Its evocative, understated soundtrack amplifies the visuals, and its score echoes Ennio Morricone without aping him…..Bill Elm and Woody Jackson’s original music for RDR….I’ll just say it’s terrific and leave it at that.

The score by alternative rockers Bill Elm and Woody Jackson is also praiseworthy. Their instrumental Americana soundtrack summons up the great, quiet expanses of the West, punctured by gunshots; the sound of horse hooves thundering across the plains; and wagon wheels creaking as they navigate treacherous mountain trails.

Excellent sound effects reproduce the feel of a western film, from the low and moody soundtrack to the sharp bang of a revolver, and the clopping gallop of a horse, it’s all there
The music is a lot less prominent than I expected it to be. I had built up an expectation of it in my mind whereby the action and dramatic-view shots would be punctuated by bombastic trumpets and yelling Mariachi singers. The reality – thankfully – is a lot more measured, and subtly demonstrates a self-confidence that I felt was echoed throughout the other facets of the game.Nothing here is on-the- nose.Nothing here is pastiche or parody……..Going back to the game’s score for a moment, I got the impression that the soundtrack accompanied me in one form or another for almost all of my game time. It is so well-crafted and appropriate that I felt it enhanced my enjoyment of being in the environment. I’m a lover of video gaming music – just ask my sobbing wife – and the only example of music elevating gameplay to new heights in this way has been the Halo franchise.Wandering through McFarlane’s Ranch – your base for the opening few hours – to the accompaniment of an echoey whistler placed me in the world with John Marston in a way I have rarely experienced before.

PSX extreme
The sound shines thanks to an outstanding cast of professional voice acting, and expert music composition by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson concerning the appropriate soundtrack. The latter can be intimidating or mystically chilling, depending on the situation, and it never intrudes; only enhances.
Sound design – not least of which the fantastic Ennio Morricone-esque score – is superb, with an array thoroughly authentic wood creaking effects.

Timesonline UK
The music (heavy on Sergio Leone-style whistling) is worth a special mention
Even the usually divisive soundtrack is well done. There are no radio stations (duh) or hastily shoe-horned Country and Western themed tracks playing here – just the sporadic snippet of an instrumental track played on guitar. Music fades in and out to complement the scenery, the time of day, and the on-screen action; so while you’re aware its there, the soundtrack is never intrusive or game- breaking.

Live Review: Petra Haden & Woody Jackson – Largo – Los Angeles, CA
She’s played violin for some of the biggest names in rock (Beck, Foo Fighters, Green Day) and was a member of hipster faves The Decemberists for a brief period, but Petra Haden remains an unknown entity for most music fans. Little in her 2008 output is apt to change that—and that seems just fine by Haden, a brilliant vocalist who is most assuredly following her own path.

Haden has recently figured prominently on three albums for your consideration. Most accessible? That’d be alongside her singing siblings and her father, acclaimed jazz bassist Charlie Haden, on his new album Rambling Boy. Least accessible? Probably Hearts and Daggers, her avant-garde collaboration with accordion-wielding Miss Murgatroid. The honor of “best” belongs to Ten Years, a beguiling collection of songs with composer and multi-instrumentalist Woody Jackson. True to the title, it’s been in the works for a decade. Such was the built-up anticipation that their show at Largo was jokingly referred to as a “wedding reception.” Despite a cozy and hospitable audience—which included Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Jack Black (Haden’s brother-in-law)—both performers admitted their nerves.

Nerves were understandable. Not only is it challenging music to perform—particularly for Haden and her two supporting singers—but it requires investment from the audience as well. Jackson’s forte is moody minimalism. He builds a tune on a skeletal riff or rhythm, using instruments that look fabricated on the spot or pulled out of an archeological dig; his studio has been referred to as a “musical museum” and Haden, for her part, played a brass violin whenever she wasn’t busy humming, cooing, harmonizing, buzzing and belting. Anyone who’s heard her riveting a cappella versions of “God Only Knows” or the entirety of The Who Sell Out will already know of her command of her instrument. With Jackson, she takes her versatile voice off the beaten path—away from pop hooks and often away from the English language altogether.

What may sound like indulgent artifice on paper is made to sound captivating and organic in person. And indulgent, too, sure. Liberated by their many other gigs, they don’t have to rely on Ten Years to pay their mortgages. To further secure the evening’s arthouse cred, filmmaker Vincent Gallo emerged from the wings to sing a couple duets (his own “So Sad” and—why not?—“Moon River”).

—Adam McKibbin