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John Carpenter Lost Themes Sacred Bones


John Carpenter once said his scores were like carpets; that’s to say they seemingly disappear into the mis-en-scene of the narrative, rather than drive it. Here, Carpenter has kicked a bunch of carpets out of the back of a lorry and expected them to dash into the wild like released tigers. But instead they’ve just uncurled a bit on the concrete and some of them have fallen in puddles besides old comics. In short bursts and at extended intervals, this album is brilliant and enthralling. Heartbreakingly, it’s ultimately uninspiring for those not acquainted with the films of Carpenter and unsatisfying for those who are.

Nine tracks run, each supposedly a mini-score to a narrative never written: a ‘Lost Theme’, so to speak. The wind behind its course is the familiar, synthetic, comic book, arcade pulse which overlaid Carpenter’s 80s cinematic classics such as Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween and Escape from New York. Each seems to have a go at stuffing the various stages and emotional shifts of a whole movie into what is called a song. Vortex, an exception, evolves excellently, while particular sections of Fallen, Domain, Purgatory and Night are emotional and succinct, but they’re dampened by the flatness that comes before and after.

These themes really are lost. There’s no way of telling whether this is an album or a soundtrack or a compilation. It exhausts itself in attempting too much in too little time, and the grooves themselves mostly fall short of the eye-patch-motorcyclist gusto of his other soundtracks. Really, it’s just a shadow of a stack of comic books. Just some old carpets out on the street. Worth a listen, but one of the many misses for the famously obstinate ‘pornographer of violence.’