Underpinning Carpenter’s renaissance as a musician has been his collaboration with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. They’ve composed and performed as a trio throughout this entire run, on studio albums, on soundtracks, and onstage. Here, the trio reaches a new level of creative mind-meld. Richly rendered worlds are built in the interplay between Davies’s guitar and the duelling synthesizers played by the Carpenters.
“We begin with a theme, a bass line, a pad, something that sounds good and will lead us to the next layer,” John says of the trio’s process. “We then just keep adding on from there. We understand each other's strengths and weaknesses, how to communicate without words, and the process is easier now than it was in the beginning. We’ve matured.”
John called the first Lost Themes album “a soundtrack for the movies in your mind.” On Alive After Death, those movies are even more vivid. The song titles here are among his most evocative, too. Lead single “Weeping Ghost” thrillingly conjures its title figure in a wash of synthesizer, making the listener’s neck hairs stand on end as the aural specter stalks the halls of a dilapidated mansion. The pulsing “The Dead Walk” makes the zombie apocalypse feel like a rave. The gloomy, atmospheric closing track “Carpathian Darkness” casts shadow on the album with its strikingly effective minimal piano and splashes of twinkling synth. Each of the ten songs is a universe unto itself.
Whereas the original Lost Themes album came as a pleasant surprise after years of relative silence from Carpenter, the third installment sees him in the midst of a resurgent moment as a cultural force. The 2018 Halloween score gave his music its biggest audience in decades, and the world he releases his new album into is one that has, at long last, given him the credit he deserves as a founding father of modern electronic music.