Director John Carpenter Masters the Sounds of Horror on Debut Album, ‘Lost Themes’

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The Thing was my first John Carpenter film. It’s full of suspense, twists and constant movement. I easily felt involved and connected with the movie. Carpenter was also the mind behind cult films Halloween and Escape From New York (both of which I’ve yet to experience). Although the revered director has been given immense praise for his visual work, his composing skills are often ignored. I never knew Carpenter composed the dark instrumentations that backdropped The Thing and his other classics. His music has helped accentuate the bleakness and action manifest in his thrillers.

In 2015, Carpenter is displaying his sonic talents with his debut album, entitled Lost Themes. The album is out this week on Brooklyn label Sacred Bones, which has been a forum for another innovative director with a musical passion. Constructed with his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, Lost Themes is foreboding and cold, and it drills deep. On the entirely instrumental release, John Carpenter remains close to his roots as a composer: The tracks sound theatrical and preternatural, coming off as “mini-scores.”

“Vortex” haunts your spirit with pulsating keyboard patches and disturbing electro-harps, escalating and intensifying over five minutes. “Fallen” is an angelic, synthesized electro-combustion, and sounds like the work of Cliff Martinez (composer for films like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion).

Lost Themes is colorful and meticulously crafted, but its campiness is overwhelming at times. “Domain” uses bourgeois, over-the-top guitar solos and cheeky industrial dance beats; it’s like a subpar Van Halen and Trent Reznor collaboration. Aside from this, though, Lost Themes is an outstanding film-less soundtrack.

Maybe a new John Carpenter movie is also in the works. So far, he’s only put out two this century, Ghosts Of Mars (2001) and The Ward (2010). With Lost Themes, Carpenter shows that he’s still able to deliver fantastic scores. This music deserves to be set to visuals.

Director John Carpenter Masters the Sounds of Horror on Debut Album, ‘Lost Themes’