Saturday, October 3, 2015

John Carpenter: "Lost Themes Remixed"

Its October, and for me it's Halloween every day, but October is an unabashed celebration of the life macabre. Here is a soundtrack for the wee hours of October nights, brought to you by John Carpenter who directed Halloween, the Thing, the Fog, Prince of Darkness,and Escape From New York. He created the theme to Halloween which along with the Exorcists "Tubular Bells" is one of the most recognized horror themes ever. So much like his movies his compositions are dark with a sci-fi edge to them. So its fitting goth and industrial artists should lend their talents to re-mix Carpenter's "Lost Themes" album. Pruient add another layer of density in their re-mix of the opening song "Purgatory". While the undercurrent of "Night" is very Carpenter, when Zola Jesus adds her vocals it sounds more like one of her songs.

 ohGr remixes "Wraith" his voice is kept in distance with the kind of distorted beats which dominated Skinny Puppy's more recent albums driving ahead Carpenters more ambient themes. "Vortex" is re-worked twice , the first time by Civil Servant the second time by Uniform. The synth attack is harsher like early nineties industrial, with a dancey throb injected into it. Faint guitar chords and sax color the corners of the background as the menacing pulse dominates the song. Uniform take their version of "Vortex" directly to the dance floor in a manner I was not expecting from them. The darker modes than Carpenter writes in are of course present creating an interesting juxtaposition of sounds. Blanck Mass which is one half of Fuck Buttons takes on the second song that gets two versions "Fallen" . There is a lot of movement in this song almost militaristic as the snare almost creates a marching pattern. It actually gets heavier than some of the songs from artist I would have expected to take it in that direction as it builds into something like older Nine Inch Nail, even with the buzz of guitar crunching into.

 JG Thirwell who 90s goths may remember under the name of Foetus stares into "Abyss". Harshly percussive synths and a robot snare march over what is otherwise kraut rock. These two work really well together it is hard to hear where one begins an the other ends though the main melody is Carpenters and Thirwells synths are dancing around it. This songs build into sharper melodies and adds some dramatic swell to its tension. It reaches an almost symphonic level. Berlin based artist Bill Kouligas who delves into electronic music under the name Family Battle Snake offers up the the most aurally abrasive level of experimentation as he also gives "Fallen" a shot. His version is very different. In some ways it is more minimalist than Blanck Mass's version, though it remains more amorphous in its atmospherics almost never taking form like some of Philip Glass' more minimalist work.

This is a much better re-mix album those I have heard in the past five years, given the nature of the experimentation involved by some of the artists the ambiance can over take the actual song. So with that in mind I'll give this one a 8. It is worth owning for the Zola Jesus, ohGr and Blanck Mass tracks alone, though their are some other solid moments aside from those, but they have to be my favorites. Out Now on Sacred Bones.


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