John Carpenter’s debut album might be the best thing you hear all year
John Carpenter lost themes

Veteran horror director John Carpenter is about to release his very first solo record. Long-time fan Mark Butler believes it might just be the album of the year. 

There aren’t many people who’d release their debut solo record aged 66. But then John Carpenter is hardly a man who sticks rigidly to convention.

Throughout the ’70s and ’80s the offbeat filmmaker blazed a barnstorming trail of B-Movie mayhem, turning out witty, startling and entertaining slices of arthouse-schlock that managed to be both sharply intelligent, and deliciously silly.

He wrote, he directed, he edited and – most unusually for Hollywood – he scored too; producing unforgettable musical backdrops to his edgy flicks that were as catchy as the best pop tracks and as atmospheric as a full-blown opera.

Now the cult sci-fi, horror and action auteur is releasing a full album of new musical material called Lost Themes next month. And as someone who thinks the Halloween theme is one of the finest pieces of horror music ever made, and spent much of my youth listening to the Assault On Precinct 13 soundtrack on loop, I couldn’t be more excited.

Carpenter is the original master of minimalist electro, and early snatches of Lost Themes suggest he’s actually bettering many of the hip, modern pretenders that have aped his pioneering style of late.

Preview track ‘Night’ feels like it could take on anything the superb Drive soundtrack had to offer. I mean, just LISTEN TO IT:

That’s right. That’s the sound of ‘Real Human Bean’ getting its face kicked-in in an elevator.

Then there’s the previously released cut ‘Vortex’, which is basically the sound of every awesome ’80s B-Movie crammed into five minutes of foot-stomping bass, dazzling bleeps and air-punching electric guitar:

Retrowave has become a major musical force over the past 10 years, but while the likes of Kavinsky have stolen the spotlight, it’s taking a pensioner who actually propelled the era in question to show everybody how it’s done.

It makes sense though, right? I mean, Carpenter made and soundtracked so many of the cult flicks that inspired today’s young, ’80s obsessed electro artists. So who better to take the reins now than the guy who was at the cutting-edge in the first place?

The release of Carpenter’s debut album is certainly a timely one. More and more, modern-day filmmakers and composers are drawing influence from the director’s back-catalogue both visually, and sonically.

Last year’s stylish action movie The Guest owed much to the man’s work, while its kick-ass score is undeniably in his debt.

Hell, even video games – a medium Carpenter himself is very much in love with – have begun to create blood-splattered, synth-backed odes to his finest hours. Just look at Hotline Miami, for one.

The man is so genuinely awesome that when Ennio Morricone, one of the all-time great cinematic composers, was tasked with scoring Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic The Thing, he presumably threw up his hands, asked why the hell they needed him to help out, and just put together a classic Carpenter-style theme anyway.

So yes. It’s fair to say I’m excited for Lost Themes. And I reckon you should be excited too.

If you’ll excuse me, I just need to go off and listen to a certain piece of music on loop…

Lost Themes is out on Sacred Bones Records from February 3.

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