John Carpenter - Lost Themes: Noir

John Carpenter – Lost Themes IV: Noir (Album Review)

John Carpenter 2024

While John Carpenter is almost always recognized for his accomplishments in filmmaking, it should not be overlooked that he is also a pretty stellar composer. Responsible for countless unforgettable scores – including work for his 1979 classic Halloween, 1984’s The Fog, 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China, among many others – you could argue his musical contributions are equally prolific to those in film. Although, while the average individual likely does not put all too much thought into the sounds behind the images on the screen, we are all subliminally affected by a powerful soundtrack.

Bringing attention to this, fans may have noticed following Carpenter’s 2001 movie Ghost of Mars that he had not been all too actively involved in music for some time. Assuming he had perhaps retired from any sort of commercial release of his compositions, a new chapter began to unfold in 2015 when he released Lost Themes. A standalone album of Electronic Rock styled instrumentals that had a niche audience salivating in excitement, clearly the encounter sparked a fresh flame in Carpenter’s heart… because more would soon follow. A partnership of writing, recording, and bouncing ideas off his son Cody Carpenter and Godson Daniel Davies, the three have remained intertwined through touring, plus numerous other recording sessions. Putting out Lost Themes II in 2016, Lost Themes III: Alive After Death arrived in 2021, but amidst it all also came soundtrack collaborations with Cody and Davies; including for each of the most recent Halloween flicks released between 2018 and 2022. Exciting to witness this late into John Carpenter’s career, what is even more inspiring to see is that he is experiencing this renaissance with family involved.

Time well spent, now in 2024 the trio return with Lost Themes IV: Noir. Set for release on May 3, 2024 through Sacred Bones Records, the new collection was inspired by a book about Noir films John had received for Christmas. The story goes that Davies was thumbing through the book and was taken-in by the still images of various Noir films. Getting the wheels turning in his mind, this resulted in the idea of creating some music around such themes. From here the project began to take shape as John, Cody, and Davies each offered input as to where each song should go.

Rather cool, it is important to recognize, like the other Lost Themes collections, that these tracks are standalone compositions… meaning they are soundtracks absent from a film. Looking at it from this angle, it is even more fascinating to listen to each Lost Themes release and marvel at the creative process behind them. Recapping the last decade, each prior Lost Themes album creates a thick atmosphere of sound with primarily electronic tones laid out by synthesizers. As mentioned, a soundtrack lover’s dream come true, the approach on all Lost Themes sets successfully creates visions in the mind untethered from any predetermined images. An extremely challenging task to achieve, Lost Themes IV: Noir follows a similar trajectory and once again finds success.

However, if you are expecting Lost Themes IV: Noir to replicate the same sonic quality as any of its predecessors, you would be selling it short. Complete with 10 tracks, this new collection is heavily Rock-based with the guitars and live drums much more upfront. Giving it a robust punch, the keyboards add an ambience that is arguably even more haunting in many instances. This is something you can hear with songs like “My Name Is Death,” which is driven by a throbbing bassline, but underlined by some very ominous background textures. Furthermore, more straightforward keyboard laden cuts like “The Burning Door” present a singular sorrowful tone, whereas others such as “The Demon’s Shadow” offer a tension that is so real and multi-dimensional.

When it is all said and done Lost Themes IV: Noir is a stunning step forward for John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. They do not repeat themselves, sound astoundingly energetic, and create something breathtakingly original. Their work is accomplished through a deeper understanding of how sound moves us, but also with a keen ability to remain within the structure of a song that has a beginning, middle, and end. Instrumental music for the cinema lover in all of us, Cryptic Rock gives Lost Themes IV: Noir 5 out of 5 stars.

John Carpenter - Lost Themes: Noir
John Carpenter – Lost Themes: Noir / Sacred Bones Records (2024)

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