John Carpenter's Scary Soundtracks Arrive in Time for Halloween

John Carpenter’s Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 explains why Trans-Siberian Orchestra has kept its holiday sights focused on Christmas. Carpenter beat them to Halloween—literally. Carpenter brings the same mix of classical lite and Sunset Strip hair metal to his soundtracks that TSO slathers on Christmas.

Lynch Does Lynch in Twin Peaks' Roadhouse

A subtle, eerie vibration plays as the camera wanders through a gloomy fog, illuminated by a single rainbow halo, slowly transitioning into the iconic prom photo of Laura Palmer. The camera escapes the fog to reveal an arial view of those majestic Douglas Firs. An omniscient bass, then a resonant low F, inviting the camera into the landscape of rural Washington. The tension is taut, secretive, as the F descends downward, begging to be resolved. Then the chord hits with a chorus of synthesizers and the camera pans over the rushing waterfall.

The High Llamas Rattle the Trees

Part-time Stereolab collaborator Sean O'Hagan has found full expression of his Beach Boy impulses as well as his love of low-tech drones in The High Llamas. Almost everything the band does can be summed up by the title of its 1998 album, Cold and Bouncy. There's a remoteness in the band's love of retro electronic elements and an organic warmth in its Smile-like orchestrations.

Gramps the Vamp is Not Afraid

If you see Maxx McGathey, bandleader of Gramps the Vamp, walking around Chicago with headphones on, there’s a good chance he’s not listening to music. Or a podcast. Or whatever the kids are into these days. When the band was writing the songs that ultimately became their new self-titled album, McGathey roamed the streets, he says, “listening through hours and hours of old-time radio shows.”

The World Plugs In

I hoped that in Peru Boom: Bass, Bleeps and Bumps from Peru’s Electronic Underground, I’d found a Peruvian equivalent to bounce. On first listen, it was clear that I did and didn’t. The compilation presents a current, club-oriented, electronic expression of local culture, but it lacks the specific details we associate with bounce: emcees, crazy energy, and neighborhood focus.

Phantogram's Film Noir

“Last night I was up until 10 o'clock this morning working on a song," says Josh Carter, one half of electro-rock duo Phantogram. “On the bus I worked from midnight til 10 am, then slept for a couple hours. I feel more creative at night. Something sparks in my head. I’ve always been kind of a night owl. It’s how operate. Things just start to click at night.” 

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