Written By: Justin Rands
Label: Cuneiform – Rating:
Seems like most albums are written for someone else. That’s nothing new. We like to pay respects to the people who had the biggest impact on our life. It helps us move on. Helps us put things in perspective. This album, Boy From Black Mountain, is no different.
Coming off the completion of their last record, Dreamland, Brian Carpenter (Beat Circus’ creator, staple, and longest-lasting member of the band) found out that his son was diagnosed with autism. Unable to focus Brian started to write a series of songs to cope with this, which eventually become this recent album.
This album is has been mostly inspired from that whole experience but there are also other influences such as many stories handed down from his family in the rural Bible Belt, and the Southern Gothic literature of Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty.
The band and music itself is spread through many different genres including experimental music, progressive rock, cabaret, circus music, Appalachian string music, bluegrass music, old-time music, Southern Gospel, and funereal music. But, overall, after listening to this specific record I cannot help but think about drinking.
Once the album kicks off it feels like I’m floating along on ship in the 1800’s but the ship has been transferred to 2009 and everyone’s drunk or on drugs or on something, and there are violins floating around us, playing by themselves, men with long beards playing banjo’s in ripped jeans, and the ‘water’ looks like some sort of psychedelic rainbow and we’re speeding through it at hundreds miles an hour.
For the first half of the record most of the songs feel like how I’ve described above and partly like you’re at a hoedown, drunk on moonshine. Once you get to ‘The Course of the River’ things take a drastic change though. Tracks like ‘The Sound and The Fury’ can be slow, black and morose. There are long notes on the horn and trombone with an upright bass leading you through the dark while children chant in the background, taunting you.
The album has a range of sound. The second half could be a film score by itself. But, if you’re into hoot en nannies, plucked strings and feeling a strong connection to old time dark Americana this album will be perfect for you.