Release Date: Feb 17, 2009
Record label: Ba Da Bing
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
First of all, this is not the new Beirut album proper. Instead, we’re receiving two EPs that together comprise Zach Condon’s 2008 output – the first a collaboration with a Mexican funeral band, the second a resurrection of his early bedroom recordings moniker Realpeople. While good (very good, in fact), it's not exactly what you might have come to expect from this enviably talented young American.
Beirut has always been at its best when bucking expectation—or rather, choosing to operate in an entirely different place. Essentially, Balkan brass music’s not cool; baroque trumpet flourishes and waltzes aren’t integral to many popular acts these days. But the self-sufficiency of the group’s sound was what was compelling. In effect, Beirut seemed to spring up from some other world, indifferent to the currents of contemporary sound.
On twin EPs, Zach Condon splits his time between Mexico and his bedroomWhile these 11 tracks by Zach Condon are mostly new, they don't comprise a proper follow-up to his 2007 LP, The Flying Club Cup. Instead, they fill out two distinct EPs, packaged together. The first is March of the Zapotec, credited to Beirut. The second is Holland, credited to Realpeople, which was Condon's solo project prior to Beirut.On March of the Zapotec, Condon shifts away from his Eastern European fixation and heads south of the border.
Adouble EP, rather than an album, Zach Condon's third outing is a curio. Not only does it sound like two very different acts but March, fashioned with a funeral band from Mexico, is far less absorbing than the synth-pop of Holland, whose five twinkly tracks contain a joie de vivre absent from its stodgy, reverential sister set. .
At the very young age of 23, Zach Condon’s Beirut is an impressive band. What first started as a safe-haven for Condon to record music under, Beirut has released two excellent albums with 2006’s Gulag Orkestar and 2007’s The Flying Club Cup. But what one doesn’t realize is just what an impressive musician Condon is. His ear for melody is something else and his multi-instrumentalist skills are dazzling for someone of that age.
Zach Condon is one of those people who draw a lot of inspiration from the places they visit. His much-adored debut Gulag Orkestar was ostensibly an homage to Balkan folk music (although it also reflected other European orchestral and big band influences). His second full-length, The Flying Club Cup, was his western Europe album, a gloss on the catalogs of Jacques Brel or Charles Aznavour.
There seems to be something unsettlingly artifical about the whole Beirut project, as if idea man Zach Condon is playing some strange cultural appropriation game for which he's the only one privy to the rules. [rssbreak] Having grown bored with trying on Eastern European rhythms and textures, Condon has taken a trip to Oaxaca, where an encounter with funeral orchestra Band Jimenez from nearby Teotitlan del Valle served up some spicy Mexican-style flava for the March Of The Zapotec portion. It's actually just part of this two-disc set that comes packaged with the significantly less exotic Holland EP by his pre-Beirut bedroom electronic project Realpeople.