This time around the subject matter is a bit darker, but every bit as energetic and uncompromising. Carpenter took his young autistic son as inspiration for much of this material, and his compassionate yet stalwart sense of love and survival come through poignantly on the gorgeous title track and on "Saturn Song" "boy from Saturn, he doesn't deal too well with crowds? Elsewhere he spins the hard yarn of a watermelon-farming family "The Life You Save May be your Own" ; a docile coal miner "Petrified Man" ; and a brash country kid turned gunslinger facing down his brother's murderer "The Quick and the Dead" , all set to steam- train chugging rhythms with a musical heartbeat befitting the millions who toiled to create their nation. Carpenter surrounds himself with a remarkable cast of stellar musicians, most notably the flawless violinist Paran Amirinazari, violist Jordan Voelker and Girls Guns and Glory string bassist Paul Dilley. Carpenter himself does most of the singing when he's not blasting his trumpet or playing harmonica, harmonium accordion and piano. To a man and woman each member delivers with superb professionalism and passion. The octet shows their chops most concisely on the four instrumental tracks, particularly the closing "Lullaby for Alexander".
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The band's songs are characterized by lush arrangements, eclectic instrumentation, and Carpenter's lyrical themes of love, death, religion, and American mythologies. The music draws heavily from disparate genres including experimental music , modern classical , cabaret , circus music , Appalachian string music, bluegrass music , old-time music , Southern Gospel and funereal music. In , Carpenter moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts , and formed a collaboration with the tenor banjo player Brandon Seabrook, which led to the first incarnation of Beat Circus, originally named Beat Science. Redfearn accordion , Ron Caswell tuba and Leigh Calabrese musical saw , the group was a contemporary free improvisation instrumental ensemble which used circus music as a jumping off point. After a summer-long residency in Cambridge in , Carpenter recorded the band's first album, Ringleaders Revolt , which was released by Innova Records in In , Carpenter steered the band in an entirely different direction with the development of Dreamland , a page through-composed score for nine musicians containing songs based around a stage play treatment of a story involving the turn-of-the-century Coney Island theme park which burned in a devastating fire in Dreamland began a shift away from instrumental music to narrative songs about children, dreams, fatherhood, revenge and redemption. Dreamland was released on Cuneiform Records in January and announced as the first installation in Carpenter's "Weird American Gothic" trilogy.
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He also began collaborating with banjo player Brandon Seabrook, laying the foundation for the original Beat Circus line-up. Recruiting other players including Alec K. Redfearn the Eyesores , Brian launched Beat Circus initially performing instrumental free-improvisations using traditional circus songs as a jumping-off point. After playing live in Cambridge throughout the summer of , Beat Circus recorded its debut Ringleaders Revolt which was released the following year. In , Carpenter began composing music for Beat Circus, working out arrangements that now included vocal parts. The results would be Dreamland, produced by Martin Bisi. Dreamland marked the first installment in Brian's "Weird American Gothic" series and was released by Cuneiform Records in January Soon after the completion of Dreamland, Redfearn departed to focus on his own band The Eyesores, and Carpenter put together the current incarnation of Beat Circus who would then record Boy From Black Mountain.
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