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John Carpenter - 'Skeleton' Single Review

John Carpenter probably isn’t a name you’d expect to see on a music site. The cinematic visionary is more known for his work as a writer and director with films like Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China and, my favourite of his, The Thing. What you probably don’t realise is the man is also a talented musician, writing and performing many of his soundtracks. The epic throb that is the main theme to the adventures of Snake Plissken? The mock Rock action of Porkchop Express? The cold pulse that describes the wasteland of Antarctica? The electro thrill that acts as the theme to horror icon Michael Myers? All Carpenter baby!

Although he’s scored many of his films since the mid-seventies, Carpenter didn’t release his first real album away from soundtracks until 2015’s “Lost Themes”, which was followed a year later with “Lost Themes II”. On these albums Carpenter worked alongside his son Cody as well as his godson Daniel Davis (the son of Dave Davis from The Kinks, and musician is his own right who has worked with Karma To Burn and CKY). These albums see the trio working on music not directly forming a film’s score, but rather allowing their inspiration come to them more organically.

The two track single works well as an introduction, a taster of what to expect. Opener ‘Skeleton’ is a real throwback with some tasty retro synth parts. Its steady simple kick drum beat carries the song forward. At times it reminds me of Vangelis’ futuristic score to the original “Blade Runner”, something that was seen as revolutionary at the time. There’s also some smattering of Daft Punk and their “Tron Legacy” work. It’s easy to see how all three of these artists draw from the same creative source as each other, with Carpenter revisiting sounds from his early career with the track.

B-side ‘Unclean Spirit’ could have easily have been lifted from any of Carpenter’s darker cinematic works. Throbbing synths open the instrumental piece before a piano takes the lead, a winding lead run that threads its way through the song. When it drops it’s replaced by a church organ like drone, giving moments of pause and respite for the listener before your whisked elsewhere.

The two songs leave you wanting more. Carpenter knows how to wet your tastebuds with these pieces, feeding directly into your primal instincts. You don’t need to know what is going on, you react almost instantly on an emotional level. Yes, they sound like throwbacks to a bygone age thanks to the musician’s choice of sounds but from someone like John Carpenter you wouldn’t expect anything less.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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