Friday, April 11, 2008

Beirut: Gulag Orkestar

Album Review: This is good, American, now music. The music is by Zach Condon a 22 year old living in New York, and from Santa Fe. In 2007 he released four albums, one LP and three EPs. However, my introduction to him was May 2006's Gulag Orkestar. The album starts off incredibly: the title track is part restrained masterpiece and part insane, unrestricted party that goes for an all to short 4:39. In a way, I feel like this album is Condon saying, "here, I have this one song that transcends everything ever done, but I've also got this other really good music for you to listen to." I mean, the entire album is splendid, it really is some stunningly good music, but I have to listen to "Gulag Orkestar" four times before moving on to the rest of the album. That's probably just me because I am so obsessed with that song. Actually obsessed enough to know that if a time machine was invented and I could go only one place and time it would be May 6th, 2007 at the Bowery, just to see this in person. That is Beirut, Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire, and a ton of other musicians on stage for the final encore playing "Gulag Orkestar." Okay, enough about that song. The music is an intriguing blend between Balkan Gypsy and American, Southwest Folk with some standard American Indie and Rock thrown in to create a sound that is at once familiar and surprising. It is energetic and wild at times, restrained and heartbreaking (heartmaking?) at others. Condon's voice floats over the entire thing with its personality and faults put on display and even taken pride in. This creates an album that is musically diverse and a true gem of the 2000s so far. Pick it up and give it a listen.

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