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John Carpenter — Lost Themes


JOHN CARPENTER is one of my personal heroes. He’s directed influential and groundbreaking movies like Halloween, The Thing, and They Live, as well as underrated gems like Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. He has also, often by himself and occasionally with collaborator ALAN HOWARTH, scored the majority of his own films. This work stands with the best of GOBLIN, VANGELIS, WENDY CARLOS, ENNIO MORRICONE and TANGERINE DREAM among the most monumental achievements in genre cinema scoring.

His keen ear for synthesis and dramatic tension brings so much to his films, and many of his soundtracks are just as singular and stunning on their own as they are when accompanied by images and dialogue. The Halloween theme is one of the most famous pieces of music ever composed in 5/4 time, and the masterful score for Assault on Precinct 13 is a personal favorite of mine. It’s hard to imagine modern artists like XANDER HARRIS, UMBERTO, GATEKEEPER, or STEVE MOORE existing without his influence.

Amazingly, even after four decades as a respected composer of electronic music, the new Lost Themes is Carpenter’s very first non-soundtrack album. It is nonetheless a deeply cinematic experience. Some songs play out like chase scenes, some like death scenes. Many of them feature abrupt transitions that mimic jump scares. However, this abruptness is only jarring to those unfamiliar with the formula for this type of music. For those of us who know and love the style, it’s all as comfortable and familiar as the seats in your favorite movie theater.

I’d love to see a Lost Themes companion DVD, maybe with a different director supplying the clip for each song. Sadly, no such DVD exists yet, although for people like myself who just can’t get enough, Sacred Bones has offered up a special edition of the record featuring a remarkable collection of remixes, including tracks from OhGr (SKINNY PUPPY), J.G. THIRLWELL (FOETUS), ZOLA JESUS, SILENT SERVICE, BILL KOUGLIAS, and BLANCK MASS. With a lineup like that, you’d be a fool not to splurge for the deluxe product.

Lost Themes is available now from Sacred Bones.

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