Beat Circus - Boy From Black Mountain [Cuneiform - 2009]Beat Circus come from Boston and are fronted by their only consistent member Brian Carpenter who is also the sole songwriter and arranger of the songs on this album.
Boy From Black Mountain is the second album in a trilogy called American Gothic (the first being Dreamland released in 2008 on the same label as this) and apparently a number of the songs were written in response to Carpenters son being diagnosed with autism. Iím not totally sure what his reaction is to the diagnosis as apart from one song (ďBoy from Black MountainĒ) the lyrics donít give any clues.
Musically the album is completely outside my comfort zone and visits areas Iíve never had a particular fondness or affinity with.
Primarily itís an album that mixes up Bluegrass, a bit of Country, a bit of old time music and a bit of folk. Itís a skilfully put together set of songs that are played well (if you think youíve heard Carpenterís name before check out the back of Swans last album as he contributed some trumpet to it), arranged well and written well. But ultimately you would have to be a fan of the genres Iíve mentioned to really want to listen to it repeatedly. Iíve probably heard it over ten times now and while I can appreciate the qualities it has in terms of song writing and production itís not something that resonates with me enough to think I would ever pick it off a shelf and decide to give it a listen again. However you could probably do a whole lot worse than at least check some samples of the tracks on sites like Amazon or CD Universe to make your own mind up.
3 out of 5 (based on its quality of workmanship rather than its appeal to a listener)David Bourgoin