Zombie Zombie Plays John Carpenter Review

EP. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A cracking little set that will appeal to film buffs and electronica boffins alike.

Mike Diver 2010

Zombie Zombie – Frenchmen Etienne Jaumet and the fantastically named Cosmic Neman – released an album called A Land for Renegades in 2008. A sci-fi fright-fest of slasher-flick keys and alien electronics, structured around an accomplished krautrock backbone, it was very good. John Carpenter is a director partial to horror and sci-fi, who has self-scored several of his films, among them Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13 and, alongside Ennio Morricone, The Thing. These films, and their soundtracks, are very good. So, the former playing the music of the latter can’t possibly be a failure, right?

Right, obviously. Zombie Zombie Plays John Carpenter is every bit as very good as its cornerstone constituents suggest. The French duo has been playing these songs live lately, making this release both a welcomed extension of that project and a fine standalone artefact in its own right. The music might be familiar, and Zombie Zombie’s interpretations close indeed to the Carpenter originals, but there’s magic aplenty across these five tracks – a magic that’s rightly unsettling but also a lot of fun. If the tracks are supposed to convey danger, to stir fight-or-flee responses, then they succeed, but with a cartoon charm. Consider the combined threat of several kids TV villains: Mumm-Ra, Megatron, Miles Mayhem, the Marshmallow Man. This EP mirrors that menace, antagonist scheming countered by the inevitability of our heroes’ ultimate success.

But it’s still powerful stuff. Drive around at night with this on the stereo, and before long you’ll believe you are Robert Patrick and John Connor is right around the next corner. Carpenter might not have embraced the experimental side of 1980s electronica in the manner of Terminator 2 composer Brad Fiedel, but there’s a similar rawness to his early period work that combines industrial clank and clang with circuit board screams and dying diode fuzz. In Zombie Zombie’s hands these minimal themes are rather fuller of sound, but one imagines they’d have been mightily impressive even if the group was restricted to a few Fairlight samplers and similarly archaic technology of the time.

A tribute and a celebration, true to the source material yet without fear of expanding upon motifs and even slipping a little funk into proceedings, …Plays John Carpenter is a cracking little set that will appeal instantly to film buffs and electronica boffins alike. More casual fans of both, consider it a playlist-topping curio.

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