Brian Carpenter is an American singer-songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer. He founded Ghost Train Orchestra (Brooklyn NY) in Brooklyn in 2006 and has led the Boston-based band Beat Circus since 2004. With Beat Circus he has composed a trilogy of American Gothic albums which were widely acclaimed for their originality and vision. In 2015, he released The Far End of the World, the debut album with a new songwriting vehicle Brian Carpenter & The Confessions, to widespread critical acclaim.
Carpenter is the host and producer of Free Association, a radio show and podcast broadcast from WZBC 90.3 FM Boston College. Since 2001, Carpenter has produced several radio documentaries on Free Association, including an in-depth examination of sound design in horror and science fiction films.
He has been interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and collaborated with a number of artists across mediums, including Kronos Quartet, engineer/producers Martin Bisi and Bryce Goggin, visual artists Brian Dewan, Carson Ellis, Danijel Zezelj, and musicians Michael Gira, Marc Ribot, Roswell Rudd, and Colin Stetson. Ghost Train Orchestra's albums Hothouse Stomp and Hot Town made NPR's Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year and the band has performed at festivals around the country.
In March 2019, Beat Circus will be releasing These Wicked Things, the final part of the Weird American Gothic trilogy. Also in 2019, Ghost Train Orchestra begins a recording collaboration with Kronos Quartet and special guests reimagining the music of Louis Hardin, aka Moondog.
Live photograph by Neal Santos.
Landscape images by Amy Higgins.
"Carpenter's most revealing record yet...Americana by way of David Lynch's Lost Highway" -- James Reed, Boston Globe Best Local Albums of 2015
"Brian Carpenter & The Confessions exude the sort of dignified darkness you would expect given the company he keeps...bound to become a big name" -- Chris DeVille, Stereogum
"One of the best albums of 2015..." -- James Reed, Boston Globe
"A stunning piece of dark Americana..." -- Adrien Begrand, PopMatters
"Brian Carpenter is a hard man to pin down...for one, there's the fact that he seems to be juggling several projects at once. Then there's the eccentric diversity of those projects, each of them uncategorizable in their own right" -- Shaun Brady, The Key
"A fitting soundtrack to an episode of True Detective or a David Lynch film...an unpredictable, but fascinating listen." -- UTNE Reader
"Brian Carpenter is a multi-faceted artist, musician, composer, arranger, film director, radio producer, and more. In short, he's a guy who follows his muse. In this case, that muse is jazz of the 1920s and I'm mighty thankful he took this detour. The only thing better than hearing this recording would be seeing the band live." -- Frank Alkyer, Downbeat
"It's music with grit to it, with drive and raw energy. It's delightfully familiar, too — or is it? With quirky little arrangements, plus Carpenter's additions of strings and musical saw (responsible for the "voodoo" effect heard here) there are plenty of delights for the close listener." -- Patrick Jarenwattananon, All Things Considered
"Now you have one foot in the - you have several feet, actually...I was going to say you have one foot in the avant-garde and one foot in early jazz. But you have a foot in folk music. You have several feet!" -- Terry Gross, NPR Fresh Air
"At once faithful and resolutely postmodern in its approach...Ghost Train Orchestra's Hot Town delivers a great jolt of period displacement. The sound of surprise can come from music long past, music only those of us in the here-and-now have never heard before." -- Francis Davis, NPR Best Albums of 2015
"Brian Carpenter, who plays the trumpet here, took these old-old recordings, transcribed them for a ten-piece band and added his own touches. It's music with grit to it, with drive and raw energy" -- Patrick Jarenwattanon, NPR Best Jazz Albums of 2011
"Brian Carpenter is a maniacal genius...Ghost Train Orchestra's second album Book of Rhapsodies is out this month, and it's nuts in the best possible way. Carpenter is on a mission...rooting out obscurities and tweaking the arrangements until they pop like fireworks." -- Phil Freeman, Burning Ambulance Best Jazz Albums of 2013
"One must stop and remind oneself: This crazy-beautiful living-history lesson sprang from Brian Carpenter's mind. Wow." -- Steve Greenlee, Boston Globe
"Carpenter has rediscovered his Southern heritage. What counts is that Boy From Black Mountain is the prettiest darn dark Americana record in recent memory." -- Barry Thompson, Boston Phoenix
"Carpenter is equally drawn to the avant-garde as he is to the old, rural, and gothic. He has interests in free jazz and improvised music, film directing, and radio broadcasting, and seeks ways to connect these interests into a wide vision." -- Richard Elliot, PopMatters Best Albums of 2009
"By carefully orchestrating the styles of small-town Americana, Carpenter wove together a breathtaking journey into the psyche of a nation as it was beginning to craft an urban landscape of entertainment and desire." -- Piero Scaruffi, Scaruffi Best of 2008
Landscape images by Amy Higgins.