Review: John Carpenter’s Lost Themes

There is a great pleasure to be found in the pursuit of daydreaming. Successful ambient soundscapes and film soundtracks make for compelling flight of fancy fodder, and John Carpenter’s latest album release, Lost Themes, is a fine addition to the aural stargazing library.

Lost Themes is composed largely of short instrumental pieces that evoke film scores. Although these themes were never accompanied by respective films, they range in genre-inspired mood from horror (“Obsidian”, “Night”, “Wraith”) to science fiction (“Abyss”, “Fallen”), to vaguely wizidrical (“Domain”). Synthesizers fluctuate in tone from the suspensefully sparkling (“Mystery”) to the gravely grim (“Night”). Occasionally gentle hints of giallo come through (“Wraith”), with echos of Goblin riding on the synth organ (“Obsidian”). Even old-fashioned ghost story auras are conjured with doldrum-struck piano chords fighting moaning winds (“Purgatory”).

All of these tracks belong to an alternate 1980s, one that included just a few more John Carpenter films than the 1980s we all experienced. The use of the synthesizer’s moodier range, broken up by electric guitar solos, feels seamlessly like something from the past, despite the actual newness of the music.

The remixes included on the album are largely successful, with ohGr’s “Wraith” remix standing out as a fun reinterpretation of Carpenter’s original theme – preserving the voice of the work while taking it into the unfamiliar territory of dubstep and heavy vocal distortion. The Silent Servant remix of “Vortex” is perhaps the least effective of the remixes as Carpenter’s original theme becomes somewhat lost among a rather standard rhythmic array.

This is an album of pursuit, of being forever chased by some unknown foe in a nightmare’s landscape. The overall tempo and rhythm of the songs is quick and moody, perfect for both people who love to daydream themselves into fight-or-flight fantasies, and the workout listener in search of a more suspenseful mix.

I’ll see you after my terrifying jog.


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