Lost Themes II
Scared Bones Records
The last time John Carpenter made a sequel it was Escape From L.A. and it traced around the premise of Escape from New York but was panned, it had no real feel of its own – didn’t need to happen and was a decade and a half late to the party.
No tardiness in his other career though – for John Carpenter: Musician it’s been a case of following up last year’s debut album almost straight away. And though it’s a repeat of, er, theme (Lost Themes II is also a set of imaginary scores and/or leftovers/motifs now fashioned into songs) it doesn’t quite mean as much as Lost Themes seemed to.
That said it isn’t at all bad – the dated bombast on the opening brace doesn’t sit well, but by the time of Persia Rising we’re in comfort-mode and you get the feeling that, much as his filmmaking process, it’s about the journey, and the feeling he gets; by-products are the destination and the feeling he gives.
Slowly, surely, the album makes sense without ever quite clicking as strongly as the original Lost Themes. Sometimes it feels like self-parody (Angel’s Asylum) but I’m sure, as a fan, I am trying to mean that in the best possible way. There are most certainly some reminders of his gift, his knack for setting up scenes with musical motifs (Hofner Dawn) and there are moments (Windy Death) when you’re sure you’re actual caught up in and old score of Carpenter’s.
The bigger news that arrived around the time of this album is that Carpenter is touring now – as/with a band – and will be playing the pieces from those classic and kitsch films, as well as some of this material no doubt.
Well, in a setlist of classics and mood-builders you could certainly expect to hear one or two of these tracks at the least, the bubbling bass-via-synth of Dark Blues, the swirling skeleton-key(board) entrance into horror-score world that is Bela Lugosi, and most certainly Last Sunrise, which has all the eeriness and foreshadowing of Carpenter’s finest work and reminds that his film music has been such a huge influence on a range of electronica artists and minimalist composers.
As Lost Themes II plays out it gets stronger – just as Carpenter’s legacy has been further enhanced by his late-career decision to return to music and with greater focus. I’d take a Lost Themes album each year for a while yet, certainly before I line up for another Escape film anyway. It’s all still a form of escapism to Carpenter. That mood-idea comes across sometimes loud and always clear.