John Carpenter
Lost Themes


4.0
excellent

Review

by RivalSkoomaDealer USER (30 Reviews)
January 28th, 2015 | 32 replies


Release Date: 02/03/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Further cementing his legacy as a master composer.

The films of John Carpenter are perhaps best known for their atmospheric qualities. His horror classics are drenched in a level of darkness that owes a great deal to the films’ score. Who doesn’t immediately get chills down their spine when they hear the foreboding piano theme to Michael Myers in Halloween" These cult classics are almost universally recognizable. Few others have been able to achieve the kind of nostalgia and level of influence as Carpenter has in his almost half-a-century long career. The announcement that Sacred Bones Records were releasing an album’s worth of newly recorded stand-alone John Carpenter material not intended for any particular film score brought forth a unanimous level of excitement from fans of his previous work. Carpenter’s music has always played an integral role in what made his films so exciting.

Lost Themes is a record that is immediately characteristic of the John Carpenter name. The title is actually a bit misleading, as these themes were not collected over the course of his career but recorded for fun during jam sessions with his son. Each of these nine tracks are separate themes and tell their own self contained story, but it is worth noting how complete and cohesive the album feels from start to finish. In a Pitchfork interview, Carpenter stated that he viewed the record as “a soundtrack for the movies that you have in your mind. Everybody walks around with a movie playing in their head. Just imagine this is the soundtrack for you.”

From the opening piano chords of “Vortex” we are thrust into an ominous realm reminiscent of Carpenter’s ‘80s films. The song plays out as less Halloween inspired and more Escape from New York. He uses the same kind of progressions here that are present in his previous scores by letting the original melody to each theme transition to something entirely different before coming back full circle near the end. This only adds to the thrilling presence that dominates each of these themes. “Obsidian” utilizes this technique in a profound way. The soundscape unfolds from the background music of an eerie midnight drive through a dystopian metropolis into an organ driven chamber music style interlude. “Domain” serves as one of the most fun tracks here, somehow managing to be groovy and danceable yet still somewhat sinister in nature. Its retro synth arpeggios harken back to Carpenter classics such as “Pork Chop Express” from Big Trouble in Little China.

The second half of the record descends into much creepier territory than the first half. “Mystery” boasts twinkly synths that evoke the classic science fiction nostalgia from films like Prince of Darkness or The Thing. “Abyss” moves in much the same fashion, with a neat rhythm progression near the end that further builds the tension the track begins on. Fans of Escape from New York’s ascending and descending synth patterns need look no further than the true gem of the record, “Purgatory” which builds from a quiet and dissonant opening minute into an ‘80’s style jazz laden groove.

Lost Themes further cements John Carpenter’s legacy as a master composer. His music remains as relevant today as it was forty years ago. Carpenter brilliantly utilizes a plethora of musical influences in these nine tracks including ‘70s and ‘80s prog rock, synth rock, chamber music, disco, electronica, and hints of jazz fusion. The magic of Carpenter's analog recordings remains intact thanks to these influences and the techniques he incorporates into his compositions that give these polished, computer generated themes a nostalgic touch. Though we may not have the films to accompany these themes, what dwells within our minds could very well prove to be much more effective imagery for this soundtrack.



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user ratings (78)
Chart.
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
RivalSkoomaDealer
January 28th 2015


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

STREAM: http://www.npr.org/2015/01/25/379336431/first-listen-john-carpenter-lost-themes



brb, gonna go watch Escape From New York for the billionth time.

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

Tunaboy45
January 28th 2015


16100 Comments


Great review, I definitely need to give this a listen.

menawati
January 28th 2015


16587 Comments


assault precinct 13 one of my fave movie themes, will check this out

menawati
January 28th 2015


16587 Comments


damn i want to see that movie again now (not the crap remake the original)

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2015


7803 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

Good review, pos.



Not excluding the rest of Carpenter's filmography, Assault On Precinct 13 is one of my favorite movies of all time.



damn i want to see that movie again now (not the crap remake the original)



seconded

RivalSkoomaDealer
January 28th 2015


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Classic viewing, agreed. And thank you guys.

ExplosiveOranges
January 28th 2015


4408 Comments


Review looks pretty good from a quick readthrough. Pos'd. I really oughta watch more of Carpenter's films, but in the meantime, I might as well jam this.

oltnabrick
January 28th 2015


35866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is pretty cool

cryptside
January 28th 2015


2397 Comments


Awesome review, pos'd. Can't wait to hear this.

RivalSkoomaDealer
January 29th 2015


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thought this album would get a lot more buzz than it's gotten. Only 10 ratings?

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2015


14155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Album slays hard.

Digging: Our Place of Worship is Silence - With Inexorable Suffering

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2015


14155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

70's, 80's and some of the 90's Carpenter is legendary. From 'Village of the Damned' onward, shit went south.



He's always been on the money with his soundtracks though.

Mad.
February 4th 2015


4691 Comments


Why did this not get featured

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2015


14155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

They Live slays, tres.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
February 5th 2015


14155 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Really love this album, but Domain is such a badly dated song.

RivalSkoomaDealer
February 5th 2015


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with you Gonzo but I think that's what gives it its charm.

Stereochrome1
February 6th 2015


539 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Goddamn this album is good.

RadicalEd
February 6th 2015


8929 Comments


great review.

Digging: Mark Renner - Few Traces

MoltenBoron
February 6th 2015


21 Comments


ooooh, I forgot about this. Will have to give it a listen soon enough.

RivalSkoomaDealer
February 6th 2015


1603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Whoever is responsible for featuring this, THANK YOU! =) =) =)



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