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John Carpenter - How had I never heard before?

tmm

Senior Member
I was absentmindedly browsing through Apple Music the other day, and found a playlist “If You Like... Stranger Things”. I do, more or less, so I listened.

Setting the scene - I’ve somehow made it my full 36 years without actually seeing a movie scored by John Carpenter. I’ve heard plenty of people reference his work, but honestly didn’t know what that meant other than “heavy use of synthesizers”.

I didn’t realize how unlikely that was until, after the event below, I Wikipedia’d, and it seemed impossible that I could have missed him. I love horror movies, and I love synthesizer-driven themes. I also (at times) have a thing for more minimalistic scores.

To be fair, I was at least aware of the basic theme from Halloween, but only because I’d heard bands cover it.

So, back to by revelation - I listened through Dixon & Stein’s awesome homage to the 80’s, and then came to Track 2. The song was “Night” from John Carpenter’s Lost Themes... holy shit I loved it! I put that on repeat and kept listening to it for at least 5-10 repetitions.

I Wikipedia’d while listening, and was dumbfounded by not only how many movies he’d scored, but how high profile they were. I’d heard of all of them, many are classics.

I then found a few John Carpenter playlists on Apple Music, and listened through tracks from all of those movies.......

And I’m not sure I really liked any of them
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I can certainly see how his style must have strongly influenced A LOT of things I’d heard before... other composers / sound designers, video game soundtracks, etc.

Lastly, confused, I went back and listened to more of the Lost Themes album. And I really liked it! Even more confused. The same held true for Lost Themes II.

Why would all of (what my ears hear as) his best material not have made it into a soundtrack? Maybe I’m missing the point... maybe the Lost Themes pieces were TOO engaging, and would have distracted from a scene? Just a postulation.

Anyway, listening to LT 1 & 2 @ the gym now, and loving every second.
 
Why would all of (what my ears hear as) his best material not have made it into a soundtrack? Maybe I’m missing the point... maybe the Lost Themes pieces were TOO engaging, and would have distracted from a scene? Just a postulation.
They're not actually "lost" themes, though I could see why that would be confusing, especially if you're discovering Carpenter for the first time. They were new compositions written and recorded specifically for the albums. Here's what he says about the record(s) himself:

Lost Themes was all about having fun. It can be both great and bad to score over images, which is what I’m used to. Here there were no pressures. No actors asking me what they’re supposed to do. No crew waiting. No cutting room to go to. No release pending. It’s just fun. And I couldn’t have a better set-up at my house, where I depended on Cody [Carpenter] and Daniel [Davies] to bring me ideas as we began improvising. The plan was to make my music more complete and fuller, because we had unlimited tracks. I wasn’t dealing with just analogue anymore. It’s a brand new world. And there was nothing in any of our heads when we started other than to make it moody.
 

The Darris

Senior Member
I saw John Carpenter live on Halloween in Hollywood last year. It was amazing. He is a revolutionary in not only the Horror genre of film making but his approach to film scores really changed the way music was made back then and certainly inspired so many composers.

The 80's nostalgia kick that has taken over for the last few years is a lot of fun for me because I'm getting to see a lot of younger people discover John's work. I'm glad you are loving his stuff.

Best,

C
 

The Darris

Senior Member
If you want something new that is heavily inspired but JC's work. Check out Carpenter Brut. They recently had a placement in the Wolfenstein: Youngblood campaign which is what made that trailer for me. Anyway, I think you'd really enjoy it.

Cheers,

C
 
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