Debut LP from John Carpenter; sounds surreal doesn’t it? The sounds you will experience throughout ‘Lost Themes’ may be interpreted as surreal, but this is indeed a debut. There have been soundtracks before; to the majority of the movie’s he has directed (exceptions: the Thing, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, The Ward and Starman)and all of cult status.
Why now? Why bring out an album that is not linked to a film after all this time? Especially as he is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his directorial work. Couldn’t he just sit back and ride the wave?
No is indeed the simple answer.
It’s still a brave move and along with ‘Asylum’, a comic book series released through Storm King Publications, Carpenter has moved into projects that his creative mind is thriving in. What is also encouraging is that creativity has been carried through the Carpenter-chromosome.
‘Lost Themes’ came from a culmination of jamming and computer game sessions with his son, Cody Carpenter. Cody is no stranger to musical composition himself, and their collective energies and creative juices would have no doubt been exciting to witness.
Once the seed was planted, with producing an album, the project gained gravitas and onboard came another talented musician, Daniel Davies. Between them the soundtrack for your imagination was given flesh and blood; your mind has been given chance to direct it’s very own John Carpenter movie.
‘Vortex’ was released at an earlier date due to anticipation for the LP, and the massive amount of plays it had had on SoundCloud, but still sounds as electrifying as its first play. With its purposeful piano and gruff guitar there is an edge given to this minimalistic masterpiece. Is this a vortex of sound, sucking in your senses and every ounce of attention? Best trying to answer this question when it finishes.
Next up as an epic as sharp as a surgeon’s knife: ‘Obsidian’. Even with its duration it twists and turns into a landscape of music. ‘Obsidian’ is diverse and very enjoyable; dark, yet poetic. A very likeable production.
‘Fallen’ is familiar territory. The intro warms the heart with Carpenter-type nostalgia, especially of his 80s pomp. Before it gets too familiar the tempo is cranked up for the final minute, adding a triumphant finish. ‘Domain’ brings an altogether new aspect to Carpenter’s style. This could quite easily pass as being featured on a computer game, crammed full of action and adventure. The crescendo is sublime and evokes a hero-figure in their moment of bitter-sweet victory.
The next track is a bit of an enigma. ‘Mystery’ leaves questions and no answers, like an impossible puzzle. There feels a sense of urgency, as though against the clock, and with the intensity heightening as the record goes on the pressure almost becomes unbearable. Can you break the code in time? We can only hope.
More mystery with ‘Abyss’. Again another approach and with sprinklings of Mike Oldfield and Mark Snow creating a piece for a horror soundtrack that would contain blissful mystery, intrigue and ambience. A thought provoking vision from Carpenter that you will find listening to again and again incase you missed anything.
‘Wraith’ really has a ‘Far Cry’ feel to its guitar and a ‘Kraftwerk’ intelligence to its electronics, another piece that would please any gamer. ‘Purgatory’ leaves you in a state of melancholy, almost entrancing you into the nether-world.
‘Night’ is what it says it it. If you could produce something in a nutshell as Carpenter has here, at the age of 67, I am sure the sense of achievement would be immense. You cannot even be safe indoors anymore by avoiding walking the streets in the wee small hours, in unsavoury areas, as this track will terrify you. Your mind will play tricks on you whenever you listen to ‘Night’, so no matter how great a piece it is just make sure you are in a safe and there are no faceless vigilante criminals stalking your building before listening.
Overall John Carpenter has created something so unexpected and so unrelenting. The amount of times you play this album is insignificant as it will play out like one of his movies: you will experience something new every time.
You will be sure that the Prince of Darkness had no trouble creating this timeless piece, and you’ll be sure this won’t be the last we hear from him.