March of the Zapotec/Holland
Ba Da Bing Records
4 out of 5 stars
Zach Condon, the mastermind behind Beirut, has a habit of borrowing sounds from other cultures and incorporating them into his own songs’ DIY style. The first Beirut album, Gulag Orkestar, featured a heavy Eastern European influence, while the second, Flying Cup Club, had a more Parisian luster. March of the Zapotec/Holland, Beirut’s latest EP, maintains the culture-hopping trend with its distinct Mexican flavor.
Condon and his band recently took a trip to a small village near Oaxaca, Mexico where they recorded a good chunk of the EP, incorporating traditional Mexican folk sounds into their own Balkan-tinged music. While the first half of the EP contains these south-of-the-border influences, the second half recalls Condon’s early days as a solo musician with synth-poppy electronic jams. As a whole, the EP is a pleasing fusion of sounds from around the world that lives up to Condon’s reputation for creating brilliant music.
Among the standout tracks is “The Concubine,” featuring a militaristic drum beat accompanied by a xylophone and an unusually rhythmic accordion. Condon’s vocals soar softly above the music, creating a soothing atmosphere.
“La Llorana” is the best effort from the opening half. It’s inspired by a tragic Mexican legend of the same name about a young woman who commits suicide. Condon captures this tragedy beautifully, backed by a 19-piece band from the Oaxaca area that gives the song an authentic, folky Mexican feel.
March of Zapotec/Holland succeeds by blending traditional earthy sounds with the artificial beats and harmonies of electronic instruments, continuing Beirut’s tradition of producing innovative tunes for fans and casual listeners alike.