Horror film director, often identified as the “master of modern horror”, John Carpenter, released ‘Lost Themes II’ in 2016. The sequel to ‘Lost Themes’, released the year prior, the record is just what it says it is. Carpenter has famously composed many of the soundtracks that accompany his films. In this art, he’s long been one of the best in the business. The theme from his film ‘Halloween’ has become one of the most popular and recognizable themes in the history of cinema. Not to mention, one of the most spine-chilling and nerve-wracking. Carpenter manages to be an accomplished film score composer mainly because of his keen grasp of his own subject matter and an ability to transfer that into a musical setting. Carpenter balances being both a great director and a great composer, he’s an artist in the truest sense of its meaning.
The record opens with a piece called “Distant Dream”, which feels like a piece that could have easily fit in on any of Carpenter’s ’80s films. This track is full of all of the hideous wonder perpetrated in many of Carpenter’s films. Wonder is the correct word here. One of the things that made ‘Halloween’ such a frightening film was the fact that the overall violence of Michael Myers’ killings was understated. The film was much more enveloped in what Myers represented; a force of pure evil, a lifeform without conscious, understanding, or reason. Within the context of ‘Halloween’, which is what most aspects of his legacy end up leading back to, this sense of dread, wonder, and refinement is precisely the way this record presents itself. The following track, “White Pulse”, has an opening that will almost certainly go down as one of Carpenter’s creepiest pieces. One does begin to wonder at about this point in the record, what does this release mean for Carpenter’s overall career? Why has he chosen to deliver the ‘Lost Themes’ series to us now? Is his career as a filmmaker over? Or is this just something cool that he thought of to do? Aside from the bigger questions, though, one can’t deny the potency as vibrancy of this record. One other moment of interest and intrigue on this record is the track “Virtual Survivor”. With a seeming basis in the world of science fiction and a touching upon a robotic synthesis, images of Isaac Asimov and the Alan Parsons Project with their respective tellings of ‘I Robot’ wouldn’t seem too far off of what Carpenter appears to be aiming for here.
This release is a solid one from Carpenter. Again, it would seem that his ability interpret full-length stories as instrumental pieces is something deeply instinctive in his personality. There are relatively few who have his level of competency in accomplishing this. Whether or not he will make another film and the bigger questions surrounding the implications of this release are totally irrelevant to the overall pictures that the pieces of this record pain in the mind. Other than a few moments, albeit quite brief moments, of sameness, this is about as good of a collection of instrumental pieces as you could possibly hope for. Carpenter does what he does best here. This is a hodgepodge of his imagination that is equal parts wondrous, horrifying, eerie, and inquisitive. For fans of his films, this is sure to be a real treat. Not only had Carpenter proven to be one of the absolute best, most imaginative filmmakers of the 20th century, but his powers aren’t limited to a single form of expression. This serves us all in a positive manner.