Somewhere beyond the city limits, Snake Plissken sits in makeshift tavern, recanting tales of those couple times he had to enter the city-prisons of Los Angeles and New York to carry out a couple specific tasks for a repressive American government.
Snake tells everyone he is the one responsible for using the electromagnetic pulse satellites to send the world to the Dark Ages, thereby requiring the bar to use candles and gas lamps for light, but the bartender and his fellow patrons don’t care. He just seems like another raving patch-eyed drunk to them. He used to be a man of few words, but now that Snake is a drunken shell of his former self all he does is sit around and spin yarns about which no one cares.
That all changes, though, when two men in pristine, black suits approach Snake and mention that his estranged daughter is lost in an especially lawless area near the former Las Vegas. She had gotten caught up with the wrong crowd — one of the many militias trying to gain a foothold in the anarchy omnipresent in the former United States.
They offer to drive him out there in a modified SUV, and to provide him with weapons, but he has to leave right now. Snake doesn’t know exactly who the men are, or if they are even telling the truth, but he’s got nothing better to do.
The soundtrack to this proposed third Escape film could be darksynther Dan Terminus’ new album, The Wrath of Code, which features the contributions of James “Perturbator” Kent. On it, Terminus mines the soundtracks John Carpenter wrote for his films, such as Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., but pushes them to the emotional limits of erratic insanity, boiling revenge, and sincere loss.
It’s one thing to write that songs seem like they could be the soundtrack to a film, and it’s another for the songs to actually sound like a score. Terminus’ pieces always sound like legitimate scores. That’s no different on Wrath.
Pieces such as lead single “Death By Distortion” and “It’s Too Bad She Won’t Live” raise the stakes in the imaginary film. “Death” by injecting a fierce energy into the process, and “Too Bad” by making the audience care about the main characters. Before, Snake rescued people he was forced to with only a selfish stake in the game. This time, it’s personal.
“Tuned to A Dead Channel,” with its dramatic tom fills, vocoded robo vocals and dirty synthesizers plays over a scene in which somewhere outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, Snake has to train a young sidekick in the Snake Approach to taking down large groups of people to rescue an important asset. The most important thing to remember? Don’t call him anything but Snake.
Songs like “Detonation” showcase Terminus’ expert knowledge of mood and dynamics and his adept sense of timing. The drums, they accent. The various synthesizers slowly move their way along to the pacing of the imaginary film, in waves of loudness and pensive silence. The warm and icy synthesizers trade barbs. Snake is getting closer to finding his daughter. Maybe he and the sidekick are already in Vegas? By the time the lull of “Detonation” hits the title track/closer, guns are out and fists are smashing skulls.
Terminus is a bit of a legend for the dark retrosynth he creates, a stark contrast to the party-oriented work of Robots With Rayguns, the sun-drenched driving tunes of Miami Nights 1984 and the earnest fantasy of Futurecop! Fans of those artists who haven’t checked out Terminus should get on it. Enjoying all these different types of retro offerings is part of a balanced synthwave diet.
(Note on Feb. 9: I previously embedded a song from the album from Soundcloud, but it appears Dan Terminus has removed the album from the Internet. On his Facebook page, he says that “something interesting is coming.” I’ll update the review if I hear anything.
Additional note on Feb. 15: Turns out Terminus removed the album because, according to his announcement today, he recently joined Finnish label Blood Music. The label will handle the release of Wrath.)