John Carpenter has been responsible for much of the horror genre’s most striking soundtrack work in the fifteen movies he’s both directed and scored. The themes that drive them can be stripped to a few coldly repeating notes, take on the electrifying thunder of a rock concert, or submerge themselves into exotic, unholy miasmas. It’s work that instantly floods his fans’ musical memory with imagery of a menacing shape stalking a babysitter, a relentless wall of ghost-filled fog, lightning-fisted kung fufighters, or a mirror holding the gateway to hell. Lost Themes asks Carpenter’s acolytes to visualize their own nightmares.
“Lost Themes was all about having fun,” Carpenter says. “It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. And I couldn’t have a better set-up at my house, where I depended on (collaborators) Cody (Carpenter, of the band Ludrium) and Daniel (Davies, who scored I, Frankenstein) to bring me ideas as we began improvising. The plan was to make my music more complete and fuller, because we had unlimited tracks. I wasn’t dealing with just analogue anymore. It’s a brand new world. And there was nothing in any of our heads when we started other than to make it moody.”
As is Carpenter’s style, repetition is the key to the thundering power of these tracks, their energy swirling with shredding chords, soaring organs, unnerving pianos and captivating percussion. Singularly titled to inspire dread with such names as “Vortex,” “Dominion,” “Abyss,” and “Purgatory,” but all linked into a unified whole, Lost Themes has a mesmerizing power. Horror fans will be reminded of Carpenter’s past works, as well as ancestors like Mike Oldfeld’s Tubular Bells and the raging guitars and chiming percussion of Goblin’s Suspiria. “’Both classical music and rock and roll are part of my musical language, which is riff-driven,” Carpenter explains. “So if you listen carefully, I’m sure you can hear some echoes from my past. But I’m sure that’s true of any composer. You just bring your music along with you.”
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