Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998
Scared Bones Records
John Carpenter – like John Waters – finds himself at 70 years of age and with one of the sideline aspects of his filmmaking career now being the new main revenue stream. For Waters it’s writing and delivering his one-man-show, for Carpenter it’s music. They’re both in the same situation – no studios willing to finance their cult flicks, so what to do? Both seem to have found a good way out and into something new…and of course not so new…
In Carpenter’s case most of his best film work was accompanied by musical scores composed by – and even performed by – the filmmaker.
And so from film-maker to musician. A couple of years back Carpenter took to the touring life, filled a band up, his son acting as musical director, and they played not only some of the key soundtrack pieces but material from two new albums, Lost Themes and Lost Themes II.
Now we have the project that makes logical sense following on, the best of his film music but re-recorded by the current touring line-up.
So you’ll hear a bit more metal in places, as we kick off with In The Mouth of Madness. The brooding, creeping Assault on Precinct 13 is a highlight, and feels only like it’s had a dust-off, no radical reworking – The Fog wafts into place riding on that piano and synth line that has seen it a recurring motif in Carpenter’s movie work and sampled across hip-hop and electronica; Escape From New York’s main theme is ominous, slowly grinding, again so instantly recognisable.
And so in some cases there are sharper guitars (Porkchop Express from Big Trouble In Little China) and the same sense of majesty maybe isn’t quite there on key moments from They Live, The Thin and particularly Starman (something almost emotionally overwhelming about the original is lost; reigned in) but it’s all recognisable and for the most part very good.
I’m happy to have and hear Dark Star and Christine – which the composers for Stranger Things were most certainly paying attention to. These cuts were not on my original Carpenter film score anthology. And their reworked versions here stand resplendent.
I love the films John Carpenter put into this world. A big part of the magic of them was in the music. I’ve loved his albums that appeared prior to this set of film-score reworkings. And so if you’re of the same mind – a fan, interested, on board – you couldn’t possibly be disappointed.
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