John Carpenter Beckons You Into the Vortex

For the youth crowd who frequent our site, John Carpenter is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time – helming absurdly great classics like Escape From New YorkHalloweenThe ThingAssault on Precinct 13, and many more. Working primarily through lenses like horror, science fiction, and the western (which to Carpenter, the classics lay in classic Universal monster movies, 50’s RKO productions, and in particular the films of John Ford and Howard Hawks), Carpenter literally stretched the boundaries of genre, with his unique use of space and distance to create suspense, his wide shots made using 2.35 anamorphic ‘Scope lenses, and his habit of not showing you the horrible thing, but suggesting that it’s there.

To say that Carpenter had an impact on the metal scene would be an understatement. Every single band that has ever cited exploitation or horror film as an influence, eventually has a thread back to Carpenter. Whether it’s in the artwork, the aesthetic, or the presence of sonic terror, those who are familiar with his work, can feel Carpenter’s effect on a slew of genres in metal: thrash, death, grind, black, and more.

Carpenter’s films are also known for their scores, (basically) all of which the man wrote and performed himself on synthesizers and computers. The influence those had on electronic music is a well-trodden subject, but the general agreement is that Carpenter’s tunes are badass. He’s also of particular interest to our readers, as he was doing the whole home-recording, Do-It-Yourself thing decades before preteens in Skokie, Illinois bought iMacs with GarageBand. So I was excited to learn that in February, Sacred Bones Records will release an album of new, unheard material, Lost Themes, the first track of which, “Vortex,” is now streaming. Check it out below:

I highly recommend the below interview with Carpenter about his early musical influences, synthesizers, percussion, the making of the famous haunting 5/4 riff from Halloween, and more.

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.