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Soundtrack Review

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Music From The Motion Picture Assault on Precinct 13 and Dark Star


Composer: John Carpenter
Arranged by: Alan Howarth
BuySoundtrax Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 13 July 2012

Hot on the heels of Music From John Carpenter’s The Thing, comes Music From Assault on Precinct 13 and Dark Star. It is available from BuySoundtrax Records as a download or as a limited 1500 hard copies. Unlike The Thing, film maestro John Carpenter composed and played the music for these two movies. This mp3 format release is handled by Carpenter’s long-time collaborator, Alan Howarth.

For anyone who hasn’t read my reviews and doesn’t know, I am a huge John Carpenter fan. The man was (is) a genius, and his soundtracks - of which I have them all - fit the mood and feel of the content perfectly. As you might expect, he knows what he wants. Dark Star and Assault are early film releases of Carpenter’s; in fact he started making Dark Star when he was still at film school. Consequentially, Dark Star’s score is more composed of sound effects and dialogue. There is music present, just not very much of it.

Full CD soundtracks from Varese Sarabande Records have been released previously for both of these films, back in the 1990s. Assault has its memorable tracks, such as the simple but effective 'Main Title', 'Street Thunder', and the contemplative 'Julia'. However, it’s far from being the most varied or entertaining music - which probably falls to Escape From New York (although Halloween is more famous and instantly recognisable).

For someone such as myself this download release is nothing new or different. Why not simply re-release the original CDs? The track listings are almost the same, only with subtle changes, such as the odd word here or there added or removed, as if Alan Howarth were stating to those that will listen that this is his version. Carpenter himself has a very philosophical view to remakes of his output: he simply takes the money and sits back and allows them to fail.

I’m all for keeping this material in the public domain, but a limited release such as this is hardly likely to make much of an impact. How about releasing a new remastered Best of John Carpenter Music CD for wider distribution?


Ty Power

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Assault On Precinct 13 / Dark Star (Music from the Motion Pictures) - Alan Howarth
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