Imagine a mariachi band waltzing through a native funeral mass, and ultimately wandering off into a club later that evening, coaxed by synthetic overtones and a melancholic vocal part. Then for good measure, add a grinning Zach Condon awaiting the parade in the background with the words, “just because I can” dripping from his lips. The result is March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland by Beirut, out now on Ba Da Bing Records.
The first half of the double EP draws inspiration from Oaxaca, Mexico as the composition is aided by the local 19-piece collective Jimenez Band. The familiar trumpets, horns and accordion shine through on tracks such as ‘La Llorona’ and you feel Beirut’s Baltic heart beating through to the culmination of ‘The Shrew’. March of the Zapotec does not feel out of place next to Beirut’s previous works The Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, as Condon’s tendencies to explore and re-arrange composition with an exceedingly varied cast are evident in the unrehearsed styling that would typically accompany a Roma wedding band celebrating in the dusty countryside.
Supplementing March of the Zapotec is Holland, a gallant endeavour that would ultimately startle the previously mentioned countryside wedding and have the occupants rushing to the dance floor under a tacky moonlit disco ball. Using his previous pseudonym Realpeople, Zach Condon creates an electronic symphony that leaves established Beirut fans searching the acknowledgments for names such as Jimmy Tamborello. Albeit different, there is something highly gratifying in the medley of synthesizers and drum-and-bass all blanketed in Zach Condon’s uncompromising voice.
Ukulele, trumpet, or laptop Beirut continues to develop with the likes of ‘My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille’ forming an atmospheric sound overflowing with a lyrical warmth. The intriguing double feature depicts a craving to explore, and if anything in a consciously pretentious fashion could end with the scraggy silhouette of Zach Condon mustering up a satisfying, “I told you so” conclusion.