by Greg Cwik Music Obscure Object

John Carpenter | Lost Themes III: Alive After Death

Credit: Xavi Torrent/WireImage

Lost Themes III is a true comfort listen, and the most cohesive collection of Carpenter’s original music to be released.


Since The Ward flopped in 2010, John Carpenter has worked mostly on his music, notably providing his familiar touch to David Gordon Green’s atrocious reboot of Halloween, and elsewhere releasing a collection of his indelible film themes as well as several albums of original music. Carpenter has always been considered more of a film scorer than traditional musician — his best music has always accompanied images. Consider the funereal score for The Fog, ephemeral flurries of notes adrift in seas of synth chords, held like breath underwater, organ groans like deep-sea death knells; or Halloween III‘s maleficent monotony of electronic blips and insidious stabs of synth, patterns like microchip algorithms. And then there are the rock guitars, distorted and disformed, chugging ahead in In the Mouth of Madness, Vampires, and Ghosts of Mars.

His most recent work of any kind, the album Lost Themes III, features Carpenter’s son, Cody, and godson, Daniel Davies, and is subtitled Alive After Death, a darkly romantic bit of morbidity (or perhaps optimism) from Carpenter. The record proves to be the most rewardingly cohesive collection of his original music, though, at times, one wishes — perhaps due to pre-existing biases — that the repetition of minor-chord arpeggios consorted with moving images (“Weeping Ghost” and “Vampire’s Touch” have crunchy mechanical guitar riffs that rock in the way a ’90s-era computer game might). The album is something of a comfort listen, like a reunion concert for a favorite childhood band, or the sounds of a film seen on AMC for the hundredth time, and its retro-rock disco Italiano feels redolent of the Chromatics, all laser-precise guitar leads and throbbing, stroboscopic-sounding drum machines and sinister synths. It sounds, in other words, exactly how you’d expect, and there’s something wonderful in such certainty.


Published as part of Album Roundup — March 2021 | Part 4.

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