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Beirut-March of the Zapotec/Holland Double E.P Review

Earl Ho
Earl Ho

This new release from Beirut's driving force Zach Condon follows his trip to the mexican state of Oaxaca, where to put it simply had his mind blown by the traditional Mexican music played at funerals or "funeral dirge music" as he likes to put it.

He was originally hired to compose music for a film about mexican immigrants, however, the film fell through but not before Condon was introduced to the music of Mexico. He then tracked down a 19 piece Jiminez Band and with the help of a translator began churning out some music and the product became the first half of the double E.P called March of the Zapotec.

Mexican Funerals are both a time for mourning and celebration as they embrace death as a natural part of life, even having a "day of the dead" where they celebrate and honor all those who are deceased. With this bittersweet notion in mind the music seems perfectly suitable where both melancholy and joy interweave within the same song, through both the emotional timbre of the brass and the sad croon of Condon.

The standout track "La Llorona", which translates to mean the "Weeping Woman" in spanish, with its waltz like rhythm, is a powerful piece of music and captures the power and energy of the band as the song slowly builds into a frenzy of brass providing a grand wall of sound, neatly and precisely arranged to a wonderful slow waltz rhythm.

The tracks flow very well and much like a soundtrack and there is no doubt that Condon was in a Soundtrack state of mind, with the landscapes of mexico in his mind to draw on and invoke the sentimental sounds on this E.P.

The second half "Holland", which is credited to "Realpeople" which is a pseudonym Condon used before Beirut, holds a group of electronic songs composed and recorded mostly in Condon's bedroom. Before Beirut Condon spent many years as a teenager composing electronic album and "Holland" and should surprise Beirut fans accustomed to the acoustic timbres of brass instruments as this E.P is packed with synthesizers, electronic drums, delays, however, his voice and vocal style remains the same keeping the songs relevant.

Condon's execution of electronic music in this release is surprisingly quite good with each song being very well written and arranged, with some flawless  and rich vocal deliveries and harmonies.While at first it was hard to digest all the synthesizers and drum machines, it wasn't long before i was hypnotized by that lovely and intriguing voice of his.

Although not a proper Beirut album, its a release nonetheless and a brilliant one as well and should keep the fans happy for a while.


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