Tag Archives: John Carpenter

Nine Synth Records Designed to Scare

Horror Synth

Traditional instruments can certainly create creepy music. Still, there’s something about the artificial nature of synthesizers that lends itself to telling scary stories through sound. Many composers that gravitate towards the device also gravitate towards the realm of horror—possibly because they absorbed the groundbreaking soundtrack work of John Carpenter and Goblin, or possibly because both things appeal to outsiders. Whatever the reason, you can find a plethora of imaginary soundtracks, concept albums, and occult hymns with one goal in mind: ruining the listener’s sleep. Here are some of the best synth artists that are focused on freaking you out.

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11 Creepy Horror Soundtracks for All Hallows’ Eve and Beyond

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Illustration by George Wylesol

We’re currently experiencing something of a golden age for horror soundtracks. Reissue labels like Mondo/Death Waltz, Waxworks, and One Way Static are returning classic horror scores to record racks with elegant artwork and beautified sound, and newer scores for films like It Follows and The Void manage to be both forward-thinking and ambitious, while tipping their caps toward the classic sound of slasher scores of yore.

As a musician in The Holy Circle and Locrian, I’m attuned to the atmospheric, and every year, I compile a horror soundtrack radio show called Dead Air; this year, it will broadcast on Baltimore’s WLOY on Halloween night. Surely, some of the creepy, fascinating, well-composed soundtracks below will be included. So turn out the lights, get out the snacks, and dig in.

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John Carpenter on Aging Alongside His Horror Masterworks

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“It’s not precious, none of this is. I just want to enjoy myself,” John Carpenter says. He’s reflecting on the music he wrote for his pioneering films, which have been recently anthologized in a new collection, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998. These days, Carpenter is well-known as the director of cult (and occasionally commercially successful) films such as Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China, and Escape From New York. But when he was a young, broke, and ambitious filmmaker in the ’70s, necessity often required him to take on other roles: writer, editor, producer, and composer. The music he wrote for his movies is the perfect complement to his visual aesthetic: Moody drones and ominous, throbbing slabs of synthesizer (an instrument of which Carpenter was an early adopter) mark the scores to many of his films, while the chilling piano stabs that comprise the classic theme from Halloween are still able to provoke an automatic feeling of dread—especially in people who saw the film when they were perhaps too young. One of those people is Trent Reznor who, along with Atticus Ross, remixed the track with Carpenter’s blessing. “We left the theater forever changed. We were damaged and scarred, with the shit genuinely scared out of us and that theme stuck firmly in our heads,” Reznor says.

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