Three and a half years later, the Nialler9 Podcast has been revived from the dead and appropriately, the second episode arrives at Halloween time so the theme is synthesizers in all their spooky John Carpenter-inspired glory, unsettling rhythms and Samhain disco.
Like many people of my age and generation I grew up on the films of John Carpenter. His movies were also my introduction to synthesis and drum machines. Even though he had commercial success, Carpenter is still viewed as something of a cult figure. Films like Halloween and Escape From New York are notable compared to his peers as he did everything from editing to composing.
It should also be pointed out the input of his collaborator and engineer Alan Howarth. Together they would be responsible for some of the most distinctive soundtrack work in the late 20th century. You can hear Carpenter’s influence on the most recent albums by Boards of Canada and Pye Corner Audio and it continues to travel. Please investigate the music written to It Follows by Disasterpeace for more proof. Below I have chosen some of my favourite scoring from Carpenter’s filmography.
1. Escape From New York
Escape From New York is Carpenter’s masterpiece in my view. I discovered it later on but it encapsulates all his strengths the most. The percussion, drones and guitar licks in this piece make it a standout track. Plus the snare is fucking prime.
The score for Halloween is the one that probably gets under people’s skins. It always drew a parallel for me with the use of ‘Tubular Bells’ in The Exorcist because of the insistent/glacial melodic structure.
3. The Fog
Impeccable synth sound. For some reason The Fog didn’t get as much attention as his other output. It takes about five seconds to know it is Carpenter though. I always loved the chugging drums.
4. Big Trouble In Little China
I used to rent Big Trouble In Little China every single week as a kid. It became a running joke between my mother and the dude in the video store. I still try to work out how he got some of these sounds. The randomness of the percussion and sequencing is especially appealing.
5. Assault On Precinct 13
This is an anomaly next to the rest selected. It shows his ability with tone and texture. Just a master musician. The score to Assault On Precinct 13 is a joy from top to tail.
Primavera Sound Barcelona just announced its lineup for its 2016 edition via a Youtube live stream of an animated space shuttle launch. It’s good:
Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, PJ Harvey, John Carpenter, Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, Battles, Vince Staples, Pusha T, Beirut, Tame Impala, Sigur Ros, Suede, Beach House, Explosions In The Sky, Floating Points, Julia Holter, Moderat, Kiasmos, The Last Shadow Puppets, Neon Indian, Pantha Du Prince, Savages, Richard Hawley, Shura, Shellac and many more.
Primavera happens on June 1 – 5 in Barcelona. Tickets.
Having directed and scored some famous films including The Thing, Escape From New York, Halloween and Big Trouble In Little China, John Carpenter is due to release a non-soundtrack album on the Sacred Bones label.
Despite having once produced this 80s anomaly, much of Carpenter’s musical work is rightly revered, so it’s nice to hear that Lost Themes an album of original music will be released on January 30th.
“Lost Themes was all about having fun,” Carpenter says. “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 (collaborators) Cody (Carpenter, of the band Ludrium) and Daniel (Davies, who wrote the songs for I, Frankenstein) 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.
They’re little moments of score from movies made in our imaginations,” Carpenter says.“Now I hope it inspires people to create films that could be scored with this music.”
Have a listen to the two songs from the album so far, ‘Vortex’ and ‘Night’:
Damien Lynch aka Sarsparilla’s last album Karahee was one of 2007’s best Irish albums in the electronic vein and the followup Slave to the Cat Gang has just been released on Alphabet Set.
It’s a 10 song collection of electro boom-synth/ drum machine electronic music that is heavily-inspired by the soundtrack of John Carpenter ’80s films. So obviously, it’s awesome if you’ve ever digged those halogen-lit dark night horror robo-zombie cop movies or The Thing or Halloween or creepy movie soundtracks and old school electronica in general.