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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Beat Circus website  Beat Circus - Dreamland [Cuneiform Records - 2008]

Beat Circus boil up a rather potent mixture of junk band music, demented brass band work-outs, flamboyant and often doomy string work, old time jazz colours that have often quite a Jewish feel, sawing folk and the odd hint of off-kilter pop sensibilities. All to make Dreamland a rather pleasing and heady soundtrack for dreams of American freak shows and amusement park of the past, Victorian tragedies and general dark Americana.

With the band managing throughout Dreamland to make the songs the perfect balance between been dramatic, camp, theatrically and memorable. The albums fairly evenly split between instrumental only tracks and vocal ones which feature the tones of band leader Brian Carpenter's voice which goes from darkly freak show barker to almost Mike Patton like croons, to Victorian stage show like delivery. With his vocals being embodied here and there with theatrical and old-time female harmonise and vocalising.

A few of my favourite moments that come along the albums pretty much faultless 16 track run are: the banjo pick, washboard shuffle and trombone bob of the freak show pop of The Ghost of Emma Jean. The foot slamming klezmer and demented Russian dance meets Spanish air of Slavochka, the demented gone wrong fair ride waltzes meets drunken brass band vibe of the Hellgate. To the emotional to playful Victorian music hall piano pitter-patter and raciness of Meet me tonight in Dreamland which is all nicely under run by seaside and fair ground sounds. The albums nicely topped off with a 12 page booklet which takes in pictures of the original Dreamland which was a large amusement park that was located in Coney Island New York between 1904 & 1911 when it was destroyed by fire.

Dreamland is a quirky, dramatic and fun ride from beginning to end that’s executed and delivered with great charm, authenticity yet originality and sonic flare.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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