Lost Themes III: Alive After Death
In 2015 John Carpenter released the first volume of Lost Themes – a cool idea. So brilliantly executed. He no longer needed to make the movies to create the music, simply went into the studio and made imaginary soundtracks to films he’ll never write – a band was created around it, they toured and very swiftly volume two hit just like a second punch.
It’s been five years between drinks but the horror master returns now with the third volume.
It hasn’t all been silence – of course. There’s a legacy to preserve and protect and the most recent Halloween reboot of the long-running franchise didn’t have Carpenter’s involvement behind the camera but he did contribute the score, revisiting the original theme and making more music in that shape. For that gig, and these Lost Themes records, he’s been assisted by godson Daniel Davies and son Cody Carpenter. They intuitively know what to do – how to sous chef the special sauce.
And so we have the chillwave-inspiring synths and the treacle-trinkle of pianos with defiantly 1980s guitar riffs crashing down like horror-score thunder all around.
This is so determinedly dated as to almost pass as demos for an early Ozzy Osbourne solo album at times (Vampire’s Touch) and it so overtly traces around the same spaces as the classic Carpenter themes (Alive After Death) that you’ll be wondering at times if you’re listening to an off-cut from a film you saw many years ago (Weeping Ghost) or just enjoying that particular gift Carpenter has (Cemetery).
So, look, you have – arguably – heard this all before. But if John Carpenter didn’t do it then Trent Reznor was going to. Or someone was going to tour the world and make records in the style of Carpenter. I’m glad it was actually John Carpenter. I’m pleased he got there first. And second. And now third. And though I still go back to the original movies and their themes and Carpenter has been a big part of my listening across the last two decades in particular, I am here for Lost Themes volumes IV and five and six and however many more there may be.
That this one just slips into place – no giant fanfare, no expectation around being the huge and fitting swansong – is actually my favourite part about it. Everything’s in its right place. And it sounds like the home I grew up in.
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