Friday, April 15, 2016
Dystopian Nightscape Sounds: A Review of Lost Themes II by John Carpenter
It’s about as amazing as any reasonable person would have expected.
John Carpenter’s Lost Themes II is a synth-rock masterpiece. It is a diabolical tribute to everything the man stood for during his heydays as a filmmaker and composer.
The album is Carpenter’s second release of “non-soundtrack material” with the Sacred Bones label. Much of Lost Themes II, though, really could be a soundtrack to any Classic Carpenter Film. And that’s a good thing.
It's all instrumental, by the way—no vocals.
The album opens with “Distant Dream,” a driving, blobby little piece that calls to mind some of the best music from They Live. From there we’ve got nearly an hour of sounds that induce fevered imaginings of uneasy night drives, neon-lit alleyways, and glistening skyscrapers towering into obsidian skies. Everything you ever wanted from Carpenter, amirite?
The songs of Lost Themes II are cryptic, creepy, and short. However, some of the tracks, like “Angel’s Asylum” and “Last Sunrise” delve into moods of sadness and sentimentality. Carpenter is certainly no Ennio Morricone when dealing with such emotions, but the tracks ultimately deliver within the context of the album.
Oh, and John Carpenter even tossed in a broody, badass bonus track—“Real Xeno”—just because he likes you so much. (I’m still not sure what makes the song a “bonus.”)
Segments of the music world are currently undergoing a re-visitation of 1980s synth genres. Tasteful tributes, knock-offs, and pretenders abound. Sure, much of it is passable—some of it is even excellent. But when The Master himself is back at it, cranking out albums and touring the country, why mess with anything but the best?
It's important to support new, up-and-coming artists as well.
But now is still very much the time to hop on a glider and descend into the stylized, dystopian-nightscape sounds of Lost Themes II.