11 February 2015

CD Review: John Carpenter's "LOST THEMES"

John Carpenter

1. Vortex
2. Obsidian
3. Fallen
4. Domain
5. Mystery
6. Abyss
7. Wraith
8. Purgatory
9. Night

Even though it's pretty sad that legendary horror director John Carpenter doesn't exactly feel like making movies anymore, it's definitely very cool that he's focussing on making music now: at the age of 67, after decades of composing incredible scores for most of his movies, Carpenter finally created his very first studio album. "Lost Themes", a collection of 9 instrumentals, all composed, performed and engineered by Carpenter himself, his son Cody Carpenter and fellow musician Daniel Davies.

In the liner notes, Carpenter states "(...) if you listen carefully, I'm sure you can hear some echoes from my past." which is quite an understatement. Carpenter's past is so all over the album, there's not much need for listening carefully to it ;-) The opening track "Vortex" alone brings back memories from "Halloween", "The Fog", "Prince of Darkness" or "Escape from New York". Spooky synth patterns, grim guitars, carefully accentuated moody piano portions and a driving beat, resulting in an addictive and fascinating piece of gloominess.

The remaining eight tunes aren't far short of the mark; they all surprise with clever ideas and unexpected twists, as well as with well-known and beloved Carpenter tropes. Songs like "Mystery" or the epic 8-minute quasi-prog-rock-infected monster "Obsidian" seem to be highly influenced by Italian movie composers like Claudio Simonetti ("Suspiria") or Fabio Frizzi ("Zombi 2"), while "Night" or "Fallen" feel like unused compositions for early Carpenter flicks like "Assault on Precint 13" or "Someone's Watching Me".

Out-of-control organs coalesce with proggy drum percussions, mildly aggressive 'stomp' rhythms merge with warm synth massages, jazz-rock meets space pop, prog dance meets semi-blues. There's no limits, no musical boundaries. Carpenter and his fellow musicians give a flying fuck about any conventions and do whatever they wanna do - a splendid formula that works perfectly and leads to a great album that gets better and better with every listen. 

I have no idea if Carpenter will ever do another movie, but I'd be more than happy if he continues his musical career. There must be more "Lost Themes", fingers crossed!  -  8/10

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