ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms
Music05 Feb 2008

Let me introduce you to the hippest brass band leader you might ever meet: Zack Condon, young American formed in the Balkans, leading his tumultuous gypsy musicians on the trumpet and the ukulele.

My introduction seems a bit familiar, but I’ve only read his wikipedia entry and heard some of the music of his band, “Beirut”. I believe dependable Mr. Frank arranged my first introduction, and at that time I bought one track, “Elephant Gun”, from iTunes. I’m not normally in the habit of buying single tracks, but I wasn’t sure about Beirut at that point and didn’t want to splurge $3.96 for the other four tracks on the short album. I did like his airy voice, even if I have no idea what he’s saying, and the more I listened to Elephant Gun the more it grew on me. I really like the layers of sound created by the various instruments as they come in against Condon’s voice.

I went back and bought the rest of his short album and realized by not doing so before I had violated my own maxim: songs need context. The whole album works as one extended performance, starting with Elephant Gun and meandering through other themes. Track four is just a minute-long reprise of the accordion line from E.G., tying the whole piece together.
There is something moving about this music’s gypsy excesses. Some heavily layered music invites you to live inside it, but Beirut instead directs you outward, makes you aware of the world turning around you.

Play us out, Zach.

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