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March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
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Maybe it is not exactly what you might have come to expect from this enviably talented young American artist.
The first half features a Mexican funeral band and delivers oompah-ish brass and a strong dose of mariachi horns (featuring real Mexicans!).
"It's a charmingly woozy picturesque postcard Mexico: full of inconsolably grieving mothers, carnivalesque town squares, bitter wives and death by bayonet"... like Jason Schwartzman in the "Darjeeling Limited", traveling across India, but seemingly locked within the world of "Where Do You To My Lovely?", the fixed-point at the heart of it all remains Condon's richly romantic, melancholy croon". - Uncut
The second EP, "Holland", recorded by Condon under the moniker Realpeople (an early pre-Beirut alias) was recorded at home but seems like a great, reveals his more sombre Seventies synth side, featuring entirely unrelated, gently synthesized beats and keyboards and is significantly more successful.
Two of the tracks from Holland have surfaced prior to this release - "My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille" appeared on a digitally released charity affair while "Venice" featured on a compilation given away by uber-hip US monthly "The Believer".
"Venice" has a ghostly beauty, which makes you wish that Condon had fleshed out this group of songs into a whole album.
And then there is the oddly uninspired, bizarre, inconsequential Euro-pop of "No Dice", upon which this collection unfortunately closes, which disappoints.
This is a little weird, but it certainly shows a different aspect of Zach's musical personality and talent.
It's happy, sad, intriguing and different.
After repeated listenings, it will grow on you.
And you will come to like it.
The Flying Club Cup
This album is actually a double EP. The other EP is Realpeople's (Zach Condon's pre-Beirut name) Holland.
Zach Condon (leader of Beirut) is starting to come across as a musical tourist. He goes someplace new, soaks in some music, becomes inspired and then writes his own music. March of the Zapotec was born from Condon's trip to Oaxaca Mexico where he heard some Mexican funeral music and ended up recording six songs with a local 19-piece band.
Holland on the other hand is some lo-fi electronica that drew comparisons to the Magnetic Fields and Boards of Canada.
The element that holds these two EPs together is Condon's voice. It's amazing. And strangely almost always described as a "croon", but whatever. Ultimately, it's solid work from an amazingly talented singer/musician. It could use a little more focus on writing songs instead of creating atmosphere. Also the critics who didn't like the EPs thought that it was uneven. And I get the feeling critics will really start ripping him if he doesn't settle on a style sooner or later.
For that matter, it's not really Beirut as you know it -- apparently Zach Condon has been going to Mexico and diddling around with some electronic instrumentation. Not many artists could smoosh together Eastern European rhythms with Latin instrumentation, and then top it off with a dash of the Postal Service. But fortunately Condon pulls it off.
Apparently "March of the Zapotec" was influenced by a recent trip to Oaxaca, and as a result the gypsyish flavour of the music is tinged with some Latin colour. After the styles clash in the opening "Zocalo," Condon's band sways into the languid brassy "La Llorona," and the gloriously Spanish-flavoured "My Wife."
After that, it's into the melancholy trumpets and dancy grandeur of "The Akara" ("So long to these kite strings/so long since I've been saved... tasting more, wasting more..."), and the twisting meandering "On A Bayonet," which sounds like an excuse to exercise the horns. And the first part finishes with "The Shrew," a more sprightly little tune that wouldn't sound out of place on a Decemberists album.
But wait, there's more!
On the other hand, "Holland" is done under Condon's pseudonym "Realpeople," and it's pretty obvious why -- he's going into Postal Service territory. "My Night With the Prostitute from Marseille" is a sparkling peppy little electronic number, but it manages to retain the warmth of Condon's other work. That electronic vein runs through the rest of the album -- darting trip-hop waves over soaring vocals, a couple gypsyish melodies tied up in thin threads of electronica. Only "No Dice" goes too far with the electronic thing, sacrificing melody for the funky techno explorations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One CD (with the brass band) is great, the other (with synthesized studio instruments) is awful. I would like this much better if they had only released the first CD as an EP.Published 21 months ago by The Thinking Body
The first CD March Of The Zapotec is more folk but the other CD Realpeople Holland is so different acoustic experience!Published on December 9, 2012 by Lampros
I liked some of music on this cd, but not as much as one of his more recent cds. it's still good to have as part of your collection.Published on March 21, 2011 by Aly
I am in awe of the sound quality of this LP and the inventive and catchy music on this album. Not one song was bad. Read morePublished on June 16, 2010 by Joseph Duncan
The incredible thing about the music of BEIRUT is its combination of the lachrymose with the life-affirming. Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Michael T. Maloney
Frankly I do not understand this CD, nonetheless it is quite enjoyable. The first half features songs punctuated by wheezing brass horns, with heavy emphasis on the tuba no less. Read morePublished on December 31, 2009 by nepos
I've heard every release Beirut has put out since the start. Each one has been amazing by its own right. Read morePublished on December 10, 2009 by Manny Hernandez