This album features music from John Carpenter’s 1976 cult classic ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ and his debut film ‘Dark Star’ from 1974. Given that one film is a police station siege drama and the other is a deep space thriller, it’s probably best that we separate the two films, both originally composed by Carpenter and review them in isolation.
‘Assault On Precinct 13’ is the main attraction so let’s begin with that. For those that haven’t seen the film, it covers a LA street gang that decides to wage war on the police. They start with a small precinct and a depleted police force has to work with some vicious criminals in order to survive.
‘Targets – Ice Cream Man’ which features a melodic jingle jars as it goes against the heavy bass of the first four tracks. As the track progresses, the jingles are joined by the bass and it’s practically terrifying.
Despite the modern re-working, the tracks retain their seventies sound including ‘Well’s Flight’ and title track ‘Assault On Precinct 13’. In fairness, to modernise them would be somewhat sacrilege, as the tone captured the desperate mood perfectly.
‘Dark Star’ is an interesting beast. A cross between drama and comedy, it shows the effects of two decades in deep space and how it can drive someone around the bend.
Featuring lots of computer effects that were probably state-of-the-art back in the seventies, the ‘Dark Star’ portion of the album is a combination of irreverent and reflective, especially in ‘Doolittle’s Solo’.
We drift back to the Carpenter we know and love with ‘Pinback And The Mascot’ which shows the director flexing his dramatic scoring muscles.
‘The Bomb Has Something To Say’ is full of organs and synth and recreate the climax of the film. Finally, ‘Benson Arizona’ by Dominik Hauser is completely out of left field, much like ‘Dark Star’ itself.
Both soundtracks were very difficult to come across for many years so I’m sure John Carpenter fans will rejoice that they have been given a makeover by Alan Howarth.
Howarth is no stranger to Carpenter’s work, having worked with him on ‘Escape From New York’ and ‘Halloween II’. That’s not to say he only knows the big JC’s work. He’s also worked on ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, ‘Poltergeist’, ‘Total Recall’ and this reviewer’s personal favourite, ‘Army Of Darkness’.
(pub: BuySoundtrax Records. Digital and CD: 62 mins, 27 tracks. Price: $15.95 (US)
check out website : www.buysoundtrax.com