John Carpenter - Lost Themes Remixed

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2015-10-16

Eight months after releasing Lost Themes, his first album as a musician, John Carpenter has put out Lost Themes Remixed, with help from a variety of electronic and industrial artists. I'm feeling lucky to have gotten more perfectly themed music for the Halloween season, because this one dips into the odd and disturbing a few times. Remix albums can be feast or famine, but this is a pretty high quality assortment of captivating tunes full of creepy personality. This album has eight remixes of six original tunes, but the two songs that are remixed twice come out sounding utterly distinct, making it hard to believe they were based on the same source material.

The first song, 'Purgatory (Prurient Mix)' is a great bit of noisy, echoey industrial. And I don't mean 90s and beyond post-industrial, I mean the old school, Throbbing Gristle style, real deal. Waves of crusty feedback and drones wash over each other in a seemingly endless miasma, punctuated by the very occasional burst of machinery beats. It makes clear this isn't going to just be some boring four-on-the-floor nonsense. It's followed up by the entirely different 'Night (Zola Jesus & Dean Hurley Remix)', which is somewhere in the neighborhood of neoclassical darkwave, with relentless synths, pounding beats, and soulful diva female vocals. The voals are almost too dramatic for their own good, but the instrumentation keeps things from going off the rails too much.

Things shift gears again with 'Wraith (OhGr Mix)', one of the best tracks, and one whose remixer was obvious within seconds. His stylistic fingerprints are all over this mix, with lots of glittery synthwork and his trademark jittery vocoder antics, making this sound suspiciously similar to his song 'maJiK' from SunnyPsyOp. 'Abyss', remixed by JG Thirwell, is really excellent, but surprisingly, doesn't have many of his more bizarre flourishes, being a relatively straightforward EDM track, but it does break into some of his heavier sounds and orchestral modulations in the back half of the song.

'Vortex' is the first doubly mixed song. The first, by Silent Servant, isn't exactly awful, but it's dull and monotonous, with nothing surprising throughout its entire span, just a simple repeating melody and a few grindy sound effects floating around in the background. It reminds me of Nitzer Ebb's penchant for endless repetition. The second, by Uniform, is far superior, with more variety and simply a better melodic structure in its clean synths, with some solid industrial beats.

There are also two remixes of 'Fallen'. The first, by Blanck Mass, is somewhat minimalist at first, focusing on the snappy, spray can beats before slowly loading in some deep synths and heavier beats. Things continue to get noisier and more dramatic until the last minute briefly picks you up by the throat and then drops you back where the whole thing started. The second mix, by Bill Kouligas, is a lot creepier, with some good atmospheric effects, feedback, and grindy weirdness continually pushing to the forefront of the song before it begins to smooth out into a spacier section. Everything is quite abstract, with melodic and noisy bits drifting through and only occasional moments of traditional song structures.

This is a very good set, one of the more engaging things I've listened to this year. The variety of styles keeps things interesting, and it's pretty clear the foundation laid by Carpenter himself is strong. It's always cool when someone well known for their efforts in one artform (Carpenter's amazing film history) can move into something else and excel. And clearly his great body of work gives him huge street cred with the darker realms of industrial and electronic music, where I'm sure plenty of artists are big fans and would be thrilled to remix his work. He probably had plenty of people to choose from, and he chose well, for the most part. Anyone interested in hard-hitting electronic and nearby genres should grab this for their Halloween party immediately.

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