Review: John Carpenter-‘Lost Themes II’

John Carpenter

Artwork contributed.

Synth pop is having something of a revival at the moment- from Daft Punk and Todd Terje’s world- conquering 70s jams, to Hot Chip’s singular geeky take on indie electro.

Film director and composer maestro John Carpenter’s synthesizer music of course began in the 70s, with critically-acclaimed OSTs like Assault on Precinct 13. Now, like key parties, flared jeans and Brut 33, he’s back, baby, with these lost soundtrack cuts.

Okay, so it’s easy to be dismissive about this genre- but the truth is, if in the right frame of mind, some of these tunes are absolutely spectacular. Distant Dream with its not-quite angelic choral motifs and the twinkly  White Pulse  do what he does beautifully, evil/pretty codas which pulse into epic time signature shifts.

It doesn’t vary much along the way. Tracks build from sinister lines into almighty anthems and may not be essential, but there is room for it nowadays, particularly when bands like M83 mine the past, and Italian pop disco god Giorgio Moroder sees fit to make a comeback.

But even some of the titles are perilously close to parody-Windy Death? Really?That’s surely a Spinal tap B-side. Bela Lugosi? He is surely not serious. It may be hard to know if he is fucking with us, but Carpenter occasionally nails it. Pun intended…

(Lorna Irvine)

Lost Themes II is out now on Sacred Bones Records. Available on download, CD and vinyl.


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