John Carpenter Lost Themes II Sacred Bones
For Carpenter purists, last year’s Lost Themes was met with a sort of conflicting antipathy. It was a record that forcibly blinded its audience from any visual accompaniment analogous with the horror director’s canon of film scores. Historically, our obligation as filmgoers is to interpret the suggested mood of scenes through both sound and vision. A generous summary would be that Lost Themes placed thumbs over our eyes; that we were gently coerced into being the masters of our own perverse screenplays.
The creative process of this follow-up album saw John Carpenter return to the studio with his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davies – the triptych who initially swapped audio sketches before constructing the tracks as a single unit in the same city. Unsurprisingly, it equates a confusion of aims and intentions. It’s a medley of synth-induced keyboards that hobble along to rock drum presets and reverberated guitar distortions. It’s a frenetically disorganised practice in Ennio Moriccone and Goblin worship; one that catches your imagination off guard and leaves you in some kind of sunless limbo. In a single sitting Carpenter inappropriately juggles strains of melancholy with unfounded aggression and atonal dread. Tracks like White Pulse and Windy Death forge such maniacal whimsy only to then totally abandon their notions and hastily shepherd us towards a contradictory dimension. Rather than expounding on ideas, Carpenter takes these excessive aural U-turns, and all sense of narrative is lost.
Yet while every song attempts to be its own dystopian B-movie, with all their laboured peaks and troughs, we are periodically reacquainted with Carpenter’s fabled love affair with minimalism. As a young director, his soundtracks spawned out of necessity and out of that came a real creative modesty; one that galvanised a generation of electronic producers. With Lost Themes II, the images conjured are wistful and erratic; far removed from the cult classic standard Carpenter is so capable of reaching.