Californian synthesist Dan J. Schulte has been quietly (or not so quietly) honing his approach to pure melodic electronic music since the early 1990s, and most recently has elected to compose original music that pays tribute to some of his favorite horror, science fiction, and fantasy genre films. The upcoming event, Halloween Returns To Haddonfield—to be held this Halloween weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, CA—celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of (say it with me) “The Night HE Came Home!” Twenty-five years since John Carpenter’s classic scarefest, that is. The Haddonfield fest will have its very own soundtrack CD composed by Schulte, who was hand-picked by one of the organizers after letting him hear some of his independently-produced albums. Korg & Alesis synthesizers are used to maintain an authentically “retro” feel by way of state-of-the-art sounds; the production is crisp, and the sounds are robust. While distinctly Carpenterian—yet significantly more dynamic—the music found on the Haddonfield CD is completely original, with the occasional nod to certain cues from the first three Halloween films.
The boogeyman is gonna get you… An escaped mental patient’s sanguinary odyssey begins anew with “Autumn Blood”: big bad phat bass, hypnotic percussion, and realtime-control pads sculpt a flashback-overture that awakens long-dormant fears. “Factory Of Masks” recalls the sequencer motif from the wrongly-maligned Halloween III: Season Of The Witch that underscored the pursuit of a man who, simply put, knew too much. Evolving swells and bright string stacks, similar to those of an ARP 2600, are draped across the densely-textured sequences. “Misfire,” (no giveaway here) beckons to a Tangerine Dreamesque midregister staccato pattern; unearthly sonic colorations flutter back & forth over between the right & left channels. “Taking Shape” is built on that very familiar low-octave piano cadence and high-pitched bell loop which are well-known for their automatic ability to usher in a sense of dread. While that track is the best ode, one might say, “Futile Burn” is a prime slice of celluloid hypno-rock, providing an infectious minimalistic melody over endless washes of thick strings and a guitarlike, sawtooth bass—(faux) ‘Tron strings enter midway through, as well.
The now-signature eighth-note bell pattern returns on “Orange Shadow” and maintains its foreboding presence throughout—ghostly choirs, deep analog bass, and perc-loops do the rest. “Unnatural Evil” is an atmospheric, moderately gothic interlude that resonates with an introspect sobriety. This piece also works for the Fog, but this is much, much better than anything found on that twenty-something year-old film’s soundtrack! “Block Desolation” and “Roster Of The Doomed” complete the sonic trilogy begun with “Taking Shape” while remaining unique musical abstractions on their own; “Roster” differs by utilizing an ‘illbient’ bass riff.
Markedly “whirly” sequences, layered together like strata—not unlike the sort found on some of Steve Roach’s mid-1980s albums—launch on cue when it’s “Time To Carve,” followed up with another 80s Franke-era TD arpeggio. In a twist, “45 Lampkin Lane” unveils a sharp contrast to the initial scheme by switching sharply to an amorphous alter ego: ghostly FX and thick slabs of analog texture shift & resonate freely like an excess of oil & acrylic paints running down a canvas—the hands-down spookiest outing of the album, and one of the best tracks. And with utmost certainty, all good things come to an end, as this production does with “Uncertain Resolution,” but we shan’t spoil all of the surprises.
A very limited run of 400 copies of Halloween Returns To Haddonfield will be pressed; these will be first be made available to the 2-3,000 attendees of the convention. Again, this is an album of original music that will appeal to soundtrack fiends and prog zombies who appreciate the film scores of John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, John Harrison, Goblin & Claudio Simonetti.