New Audio: John Carpenter’s Prog Rock-Leaning New Single

Last year, the renowned director, screenwriter, producer and composer John Carpenter released his first album of non-soundtrack-based music, Lost Themes to critical praise from an impressive array of major media outlets including The GuardianThe New York TimesThe TimesUncutThe WireThe Los Angeles TimesNPRPitchforkVanity FairNewsweekBillboardEntertainment WeeklyArtforumThe Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and others. And as a result, the album was one of the most commercially successful albums released in Sacred Bones Records history, as the album debuted on the  Top 100 Charts in both the UK and US. Unsurprisingly, the album, which was recorded with Carpenter’s son Cody Carpenter and his godson Daniel Davies strongly confirms what cinephiles, sci-fi fans and Carpenter files have asserted for countless years — that the director’s work was not only years ahead of its time but that his work has managed to continually influence contemporary electronic music. In fact, artists like Red Traces and Umberto have released works that frequently seem indebted to Carpenter and his film scores.

Building on the buzz and success that Carpenter and Sacred Bones Records received after the release of Lost Themes, the director and the indie record label released Lost Themes Remixed, an album that featured remixes from the likes of  Zola JesusSilent ServantFoetus‘ JG Thirwell, Skinny Puppy‘s ohGr, PAN Records‘ Bill Kouligas, and Uniform. (In fact, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you might recall that I wrote about Uniform’s dance-floor ready remix of Carpenter’s “Vortex” and Zola Jesus and Dean Hurley’s techno-leaning rework of “Night.” But interestingly enough, Carpenter has been incredibly prolific, as Sacred Bones and Carpenter will be releasing a sequel to Lost Themes Lost Themes II on April 15.

The material on Lost Themes II is inspired and informed by a change in the creative process with Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies and the acclaimed producer writing, working revising and recording in the same studio — and with all three collaborators working together, the result was a more focused effort, completed on a compressed schedule, in a similar fashion to Carpenter’s earliest films. Additionally, the material is much more nuanced and lush, as the trio of collaborators added acoustic and electric guitar to flesh out the material, as well as add texture. Last month, I wrote about Lost Themes II‘s first single,  “Distant Dream” pairs John Carpenter’s unmistakable minimalist synths with live drums, bursts of angular guitar and bass chords, and swirling electronics in a moody and tense composition that sounds as though it could be part of a taut, psychological thriller set in a dystopian future. Lost Themes II‘s second and latest single “Angel’s Asylum” pairs layers of dramatic and twinkling and undulating synths and ambient electronics with buzzing power chords and four-on-the-floor drumming in a composition that has the trio quickly building upon a theme but with subtle variations until a gently strummed acoustic guitar section paired with ambient electronics and synths and a gentle layer of twinkling synths form the composition’s coda. In many ways the song goes from an extremely dark and rock-like intensity to an ethereal beauty that arches heavenward at the end.