Beirut : March of the Zapotec/Holland

New Mexico via Brooklyn via the World. At 23, Zach Condon boasts more passport stamps than most musicians his age, his latest from the state of Oaxaca , Mexico. From Balkan folk to French pop to authentic Mariachi brass, Condon is a revelation of funneled world sounds made friendly for us pitifully less-traveled types.

With help from a translator, Condon tramped 30 minutes outside of Oaxaca to a small weaver village of Teotitlan del Valle, where he married his talents to those of the 19 member Jimenez Band. The resulting union is a brassy triumph, highlighting the boundlessness of Condon’s musical geography. Reminiscent of Mexican funeral marches, much of March of the Zapotec exists in the ephemeral texture of fading trumpet blasts; a fitting/fitful reminder of life’s transience.

As an artist, Condon shows no signs of forsaking the ever-adaptive muse that has enticed him thusly. Of the six songs comprising the first part of this double EP, moods range from mildly melancholic (“La Llorna”) to outright ebullient (“The Shrew”). “The Akara” is a drunken waltz through a crowded Mexican zocalo. Once again Condon showcases his preternatural penchant for all things worldly, an amazingly transitive style destined only to change and improve with time and experience.

The other half of the EP delves deep into Condon’s early bedroom recording days to reincarnate his Realpeople moniker. Recorded at home, Holland‘s palpable influences include ’80s synth pop, electronic experimentation a la Boards of Canada (“Venice “), and a healthy return to the Balkan roots of Beirut ‘s origins (“The Concubine”).

As accompaniment to Zapotec, Holland‘s foil further exemplifies Condon’s aversion to repeating himself. “No Dice” cops New Order’s heady house infusions, but it’s “My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille,” in all its midi-majesty and Condon’s masterful layering of vocal harmonies, that finds the boy wonder dipping into the wide open palate that has become his fantastic trademark.

Similar Albums:
Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
DeVotchka- How It Ends
Final Fantasy – Has A Good Home

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