The Retrospective

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  • “Beirut & Realpeople’s new EP Made Me Dance Like a Good, Gangly White Girl! “

    February 19th, 2009 by

    In this shocking Retrospective exclusive, contributing writer, Caitlin Schiller, recounts a torrid aural love affair with the crooning Zach Condon and her exciting afternoon encounter (in her ears) with his collaborative new EP, March of the Zapotec/Realpeople, from Beirut and their dreamy frontman’s pre-Beirut electronic endeavor, Realpeople!!!!

    Normally, electronica of any flavor is not my chosen musical fare. However, should said mechanical orchestrations issue from the magnificence of Beirut and (accompanied by the silky baritone of one comely crooner by the name of Zach Condon) come electro-sliding forth, I might do a shoulder dance. I may even get caught singing along and fist pumping at a crosswalk. I might even close my eyes and lean dreamily into Condon’s lofty vocal swells. In fact, swathed as I am in a decidedly unhip bathrobe and wet-headed from the shower, this is exactly the activity in which I’m presently engaged. It’s 9:30 p.m. and I am listening (for the thirteenth time today) to My Night With The Prostitute of Marseilles, bobbing my head and shoulder-dancing like good, gangly white girls do. The new EP, March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland is credited to both Beirut and Realpeople, Condon’s pre-Beirut bedroom electronic endeavor, and goddamn! has it made this cold evening a little warmer.

    After a brief break taken in order to realign artistic priorities, Beirut is back and glorious as ever. March of the Zapotec is inspired by band members’ recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and features the musical stylings of The Jimenez Band—of all things, a Mexican funeral orchestra. While this pairing might seem macabre for any other team, it seems just right for Beirut and Condon. March introduces a new eddy of influence while retaining Beirut’s large-ensemble sound encapsulated in 5 martial, hiccuppy, squawky tracks. Check out “The Shrew,” and “The Akara,” which I find particularly accomplished and musically diverse. The other half of the double EP, Realpeople Holland oozes addictively with the sort of Dutchy electronic vibes with which Condon admits to have long been associated, and long been ashamed. For the life of me, I can’t account for why because I’m heavily diggin’ “My Night With The Prostitute of Marseilles;” “No Dice” is also pretty damn rad. Trust that if you’re already a Beirut fan for the towering walls of graceful sound and layers upon layers of lazy, woozy, liquid Condon harmonies, then you shan’t be disappointed by either half of this splendid EP.

    March of the Zapotec & Realpeople:Holland“My Night with the Prostitues of Marseilles”
    [audio:night.mp3]

    March of the Zapotec & Realpeople:Holland“The Akara”
    [audio:akara.mp3]

    Please excuse my lapse into fangirldom, but I feel I must. My affair with Condon & Co. began years ago (cue blurry dream sequence)…

    …It was in the hobbit-hole of an ex-boyfriend’s brother’s apartment over Belgian beer, chitchat and the furry, twitchy body of a peacefully slumbering mutt when Zach Condon’s voice first crept into my consciousness. I was a goner. The Germans call it an ohrwurm, or earworm; I call it obsession. In the first few moments of “Nantes” I was blissfully lifted above the nine preceding days of road weariness and heat and endless pit stops at gas stations across the United States. That mild Palo Alto night thrust me madly into lust with Beirut, with the ex, and with the ex’s brother’s dog. My passion for the boy from Gloucester has since waned, but an adoration for Beirut and a little four-legged friend in California named Lucky has stuck around–and how!

    My affair with Beirut continued after that night with the eminently likable EP Elephant Gun. Next was The Flying Club Cup, an album to which I listened concurrently with A Mad and Faithful Telling by DeVotchKa–a band also well worth checking out and, incidentally, a very nice pairing for Beirut. “Nantes,” “Gulag Orkestar,” “St. Appolonia,” and  “Transatlantique” now comprise part of my reasonably steady diet of Eastern European aural fare. If we meet and I like you, it’s not uncommon for me to take advantage of a conversational pause to insert, “Hey, have you heard of a band called Beirut? No? Wait! Wait don’t move!” and ply you with earbuds. I’ve amassed a bevy of easy converts in this fashion, but shan’t take all of the credit–the magic is in the band’s musical proficiency, complexity, and ability to vault from dark tapestry of sound to gauzy slip of song with the agility of a young mountain goat in the spring. For such musical greatness I’m deeply pleased and honored to get out and spread the gospel–or at least frighten people while trying.


    Oh, and upon whomever falls the responsibility of forgetting to tell me that Beirut would be in Brooklyn just two short weeks ago please know that in allowing this grave oversight to occur,  you have thoroughly ruptured my quaky, gelatinous blivet of a heart. I would gladly give my eyeteeth, a rib, and perhaps even a crucial organ or two for a chance to see them live. Those of you in need of a donor, take note: One of my premium smoke-free lungs could even be yours for the lowlow price of one ticket.

    March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland is ripe for the plucking on iTunes beginning today, so go ahead and point, click, and buy. If you require videographic evidence that this band is even more wonderful than borscht, gilt domes and Condon speaking in French, La Blogotheque has some truly choice video footage of “Nantes”  played for a lively audience of Parisian garbage bins, and check this out for a film review of the entirety of The Flying Club Cup. And if you’re Zach Condon? Honeychild, please do give a girl a call. I’ve got a really nice lung here just for you.

    Photo Credits Sara Hana

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