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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, May 24th, 2016

John Carpenter: Lost Themes II

j cJohn Carpenter
Lost Themes II
(Sacred Bones Records)

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John Carpenter is a master director (best known for his horror films), but if you have seen even a small sampling of the man’s cinematic work, you also know Carpenter often writes and plays the soundtrack to his films. Lost Themes II, is the second album of original tunes composed and played by the director of Halloween and Starman. Opening with the bleeding keys and scary warble of “Distant Dream,” a tune that gets quite rockin’ with some fine drumming near its last third, evolves into a tough little jam. Later is the almost (dare we think it) sweet piano under Carpenter’s signature plodding, arpeggiated keys on “Persia Rising,” with a lead synth that at times sounds like Kitaro (high praise indeed). The angelic, slow, and breathy sadness of “Windy Death” follows with its big, crinkling, synth melody (one of the most Carpenter-ish of the tunes here). We get a good, full dose of Carpenter’s mood music. How could Carpenter not include a metallic, synth, layered tune called “Bela Lugosi?” It’s big and brash, all the Carpenter sound tropes are here, including big key single strikes, glistening octave-over-octave synth arpeggios. Fun stuff indeed. But when we get to the low menace (and I do mean very low bass keys) and echo piano of “Real Xeno,” which ends this collection (maybe the best tune here for me), we realize we are in the hands of a very good composer indeed. This tune takes time to spread out; gone are the trilling keys and when the drums and guitars hit us at the end, it all comes like a breath of fresh air. A master bunch of tunes from a masterful director/musician.

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John Carpenter: Lost Themes II