Zach Condon, still only in his early twenties, has been reimagining the pure and powerful sounds of gypsy brass bands in an ever evolving set of contexts as Beirut. On 2006’s Gulag Orkestar he constructed what was a pretty convincing imitation with just himself (and enough instruments for a small orchestra), while 2007 saw him expand to a full band line-up on the Lon Gisland EP and later blend his take on Balkan music with additional influence from early 20th century France on The Flying Club Cup. And now for his latest EP, March of the Zapotec, Condon presents us with a batch of bombastic brass-heavy tracks via Oaxaca, Mexico.
Joined by The Jimenez Band, a 19-piece funeral orchestra from a small village in Oaxaca, this exceptionally full release finds Beirut striking at the harmonious middle ground between Eastern European and Mexican musical traditions. The songs here are even more centered on the horn section than previous releases, ranging from bouncy waltzes to breakneck onslaughts of brass. On “La Llorona”, inspired by the traditional tragedy of the same name, Condon briefly settles into his familiar, heartfelt croons before The Jimenez Band opens the floodgates with their towering hooks. The animated video for this track depicts rocky Mexican landscapes, an old village, townfolk, and a traditional band, certainly appropriate for a song that’s as much Morricone as anything else — dramatic, eccentric, emotional, cinematic.
Download: Beirut – La Llorona
Buy: March of the Zapotec is available on iTunes right now, but comes out on CD and vinyl on Feb. 17th.
Along with March of the Zapotec comes Holland, an EP of material billed to an earlier moniker of Zach Condon. As Realpeople he explores the realm of bedroom electro-pop (save for one track of deviation), leaving Holland more comparable to 808s & Heartbreak than Gulag Orkestar or The Flying Club Cup. Maybe not as exciting as Beirut, but definitely still worth checking out.
Download: Realpeople – Venice
Buy: Pick up Holland with March of the Zapotec on iTunes or at Insound.
Peep the album art and full tracklists after the jump.