John Carpenter - a name that's synonymous with horror, sci-fi and multiple orgasms. If you're reading this blog, you're probably among those that count Halloween, The Thing or They Live among their favorite movies. And you probably have a man-crush on Kurt Russel, which is totally understandable. Aaaand, your ear-pussy probably loves to be filled with the sweet sounds of Carpenter's distinct movie scores. So we're all on the same boat here. That's great, because today I wanted to bring to your attention some amazing musicians that take more than a few cues from John Carpenter's works. Some of this shit is pretty obscure, some of it is probably well known, some of it isn't really Carpenter-related, but it's good anyway. So get ready for another long post.
First up, here's the album that started it all for me. I stumbled upon this on a great blog focusing on obscure electronica artists - WEED TEMPLE - and I didn't even have to finish reading the dude's review on it that I KNEW I needed to listen to this as fast as possible. Matthew Akers has managed to capture the quintessential sounds of Carpenter's soundtracks: deep, pulsating synths, polished drumming with fake clapping, distorted guitar power chords - Akers has managed to masterfully combine these elements and craft something truly amazing. The Elders of New Detroit is a true blast from the past, enshrouding you in a retrofuturistic atmosphere that takes you back to the 80s, man! This tape is only three tracks long, but thankfully Matthew Akers has released another album called The Future Barbarians that carries on and offers even more sci-fi goodness. I've never seen a picture of this guy and I know nothing about him, except that I love him and I hope he keeps on making more music.
Seriously, check it out. It'll feel amazing. THIS SHIT NEEDS TO BE HEARD BY EVERYONE.
Zombie Zombie is a French indie electronic duo and A Land for Renegades is their first full-lenght album. This is purely electronic music with a great atmosphere that could easily be the soundtrack to a non-existent sci-fi movie. They also have an album called Zombie Zombie Plays John Carpenter, which features their reimaginations of several well-known John Carpenter theme songs, such as the ones from Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13 or The Thing, so you know these guys are legit. And if you're somehow still unconvinced of Zombie Zombie's love for JC, check out the clip below. It'll make your day. BAGUETTE!
Gatekeeper are a macabre electronic duo, as their last.fm page puts it. Their myspace is kinda deserted so I haven't been able to find much about the band (except that they have an album called Giza which is pretty sweet and maybe another called Exo, but I'm not sure) BUT there are lots of Gatekeeper videos on Youtube. And most of them are trippy as fuck.
See what I mean?
Next up, we have Lazerhawk, a one-man project from Austin, Texas. I've pretty much stumbled across this a minute ago, but shit sounds legit. Here's what sole member Garret Hays has to say about his music:
His outrun electro is robot pop mixed with dark synths and the occasional lyric. Reminiscent of everything that was good in the 80s including Stallone, the Countach, VHS, Diet Pepsi, Miami Vice, Neoliberal Economics, Back to the Future, Neon Lights and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Synthesizer jams with gargantuan leads, hard toms, spaced-out melody and the pains of being pure at heart. His style is a fusion of fast driven 80s music with an electro twist.
Well, I'm sold. Go to his bandcamp page and give his latest album, Visitors, a whirl. I approve of this. His indie label Rosso Corsa looks well worth a visit, too. It's packed with 80s throw-back electronic music.
You might as well give this a spin, too, so you can see John Carpenter's immense movie scoring chops for yourself. The main Halloween theme is one of my favorite pieces of music ever. It's tense, suspenseful and, at the same time, beautiful and mesmerizing. The first time I watched Halloween was at night while I was home alone. As soon as the theme started playing, I got scared and had to double check that the door was locked, the windows were closed and nobody was hiding behind the shower curtain.
Another essential Carpenter-related listen is The Thing soundtrack, scored by renowned Italian composer Ennio Morricone. What is there to say? The man is extremely talented and he has come up with a brilliant soundtrack for an equally brilliant movie. The music is dark and introspective and somewhat minimalist, perfectly capturing the movie's grim, cold atmosphere.
Moving on, I'd also like to talk about a few artists that are inspired by the Italian giallo cinema. The movies made by directors such as Dario Argento (Suspiria, Tenebre, Profondo Rosso) and Lucio Fulci (The Beyond, Zombi) and their soundtracks made their mark in the world and inspired countless artists.
Goblin were a progressive rock band from Italy and they're known for writing music for some of Dario Argento's most notable work, such as Suspiria, Profondo Rosso or Tenebre, as well as contributing songs to the soundtrack of George A. Romero's 1978 cult classic Dawn of the Dead. What can I say? These guys are legendary. Get your prog on!
Next up, we have Zombi.
Taking its name from Lucio Fulci's cult masterpiece, this Pittsburgh duo play a highly atmospheric mixture of progressive rock, krautrock and electronic music that sounds like a slightly up-to-date version of Goblin. Go to their bandcamp page and have fun!
FINALLY, here's Umberto, another one-man band that's sort of become a household name when it comes to music that could double as a horror movie soundtrack. Highly influenced by giallo cinema, Umberto conjures dark, proggy, melodic songs that evoke the atmosphere of 70s and 80s Italian horror/thriller movies. It's simultaneously ghoulish and groovy, with a penchant for occult keyboards and krautrock-inspired synth work. As the quote in From the Grave's description puts it, someone needs to make movies specifically with Umberto's music in mind.
As always, you can find Umberto's work on his bandcamp page, right here.
This about concludes my all-too-short exploration of John Carpenter/giallo-inspired music. I don't think this post even counts as scratching the surface, as I'm sure there's plenty more amazing artists to be found, if you look hard enough. But a nudge in the right direction is always welcome. So if anyone has any more recommendations, let me know. I've become hooked and I need more.
CARPENTERCORE 4 LIFE