John Carpenter – Lost Themes II
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After a lengthy period of silence, the 2010s saw a burst of activity from John Carpenter: he released Lost Themes II in 2016, just a year after his first album of non-soundtrack music arrived. The release of pent-up creativity within Lost Themes' wonderfully over the top songs was almost palpable, but its sequel is more streamlined, more confident, and more like Carpenter's actual soundtrack work. This time, Carpenter, son Cody, and godson Daniel Davies recorded these songs in the same studio instead of collaborating long-distance, giving Lost Themes II a cohesion that allows them to explore more moods and settings. As always, Carpenter knows how to create excitement: beginning the album with the big drums, pulsing synths, and searing riffs of "Distant Dream" is like opening a movie with a chase scene. However, he also leaves room for more tension and release on tracks such as "White Pulse," which teeters between icy majesty and fiery menace, and "Dark Blues," where his signature arpeggiated synths and fuzzed-out guitars gradually build to a climax. Lost Themes II also includes more restrained pieces than its predecessor, and they're among the album's finest: Carpenter and company let the intricate, almost Eastern European melody of "Hofner Dawn" unfold without interruption, create an undisturbed air of mystery on "Persia Rising," and pay tribute to old-school horror with "Bela Lugosi"'s creeping atmosphere. It all makes for a more balanced, arguably more enjoyable listening experience than the original Lost Themes, and with the triumphant yet suspenseful "Utopian Facade" suggesting a threequel, it's another must for Carpenter fans.