John Carpenter - Lost Themes II

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2016-04-15

John Carpenter is a certified Renaissance man. After a storied directorial carrer that includes crafting some of the best-loved cult films (and soundtracks) of the 70s and 80s, he's switched over to making music full-time, and wow does he know his stuff. There's real depth to his work, and a good amount of variety, though the overall feeling is, appropriately, strongly cinematic.

And what, exactly, does that mean? Simply that many of the pieces powerfully define a sense of place, and tend to create images in the mind. Now, this may just be an artifact of my associations with Carpenter's filmography, but I think it's more than that.

Still, many of the songs sound like outtakes from horror soundtracks. I feel like I'm watching The Thing in my head while listening to opener 'Distant Dream', with its grindy synth/guitar intro and deep plodding melody, or 'Persia Rising', with another tense electronic lead punctuated by high-range bursts.

"White Pulse" is both deep and light in presentation, with strings, piano, and electronics working together comfortably to create something by turns ghostly and weighty. On other tracks, like 'Angel's Asylum', Carpenter opts for a more bombastic, neoclassical approach. And 'Hofner Dawn' is spacey enough to fit on a new age album by a band like Cusco.

A good number of tracks through the middle of the album have a very mid-90s, oh-look-here-comes-technology kind of hi/lo-fi feel, if that makes any sense. Something like what you'd hear in one of those old videos showing off nascent 3D computer graphics, almost prog rock in a way.

All in all, the ablum is a good blend of styles, as long as you're okay with music that takes itself very seriously. It's a solid set, though perhaps not as interesting as his first Lost Themes and its remix album.

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