Friday, January 23, 2009

Beirut - March of the Zapotec EP

We begin with a Mexican parade. This isn’t your “Mexico-day” in Columbus, Ohio parade. This is an authentic Mexican funeral parade, filling the streets and passing by on the way through your village. This is exactly how Beirut’s Zach Condon starts out his newly leaked EP, March of the Zapotec.

After “El Zocalo’s” prologue, “La Llorona” starts like the Beirut you’ve loved in Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestar. It has the haunting sadness of the Eastern European gypsy aesthetic with the grandeur and bouncing flow of the small town obscure Mexicans he merged with. You still want to wave your hand along with the tubas, interjecting clarinets and accordions.

“My Wife” should feature a gunslinger with the opening horns. I can do nothing but picture a silent cowboy film, the mariachis playing on the side of the screen. Robert Rodriguez could use this entire track for any of his Desperado features.

“The Akara” is the saddest track on Zapotec, rolling into a ukulele base and waltzing around a grand hall. While most of Condon’s songs never venture into any realm of happiness, this song especially feels like sadness. Listening now, I’m still amazed how well he can switch his sound so flawlessly from gypsy folk to Mexican troubadour. “On a Bayonet” acts as an extension of “Akara”, an Act II in the EP that slightly complicates the plot – still sad, but change is coming.

I’ve been referring to this EP as a story for a reason. Listen to it and you’ll figure it out. Condon conceived the idea for Zapotec in early discussions about recording a movie soundtrack in Mexico. This morphed into his idea of hiring a local Mexican band to help him record some new material. He hired a translator, caught a plane to Oaxaca, and made his way out to the tiny weaver village of Teotitlan del Valle, where he met the nineteen members of The Jimenez Band.

I’ve included my absolute favorite song of the EP, the epilogue, “The Shrew”. I’d like you to listen to it, form your own opinions, and either leave a comment, or send us an email at

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