Beirut: March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland (Rhythmethod)

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Beirut: The Concubine (from Realpeople Holland)
Beirut: March of the Zapotec/Realpeople Holland (Rhythmethod)

After the excellent Francophile-framed The Flying Cup by Beirut (aka peripatetic American Zach Condon), the Mexican music on the first of these two discs (a mere 15 minutes long) comes as a major disappointment and seldom sounds much other than what it is, soundtracks for footage we can't see (unless we go to his website).

Setting himself up in a village in the Oaxaca region (from where Lila Downes and Rodrigo y Gabriela have drawn much inspiration), Condon worked with a local band for a couple of tracks here and the rest betray the influence of various kinds of Mexican music. But rarely do they rise above the ordinary and while they doubtless make better sense in his films and to him, here they are somewhat cliched and unaffecting.

It should also be noted that when Condon and his band played at a criminally over-crowded gig in Auckland's Kings Arms about 18 months he revealed himself to be an enjoyable and populist entertainer, but more limited musically (on various horns) than The Flying Cup had suggested.

Apparently there is more of this music to come, but unless it is vastly more interesting I couldn't get excited, not when there are authentic and more vital Mexican albums (like Bar Mexico) readily available. 

Of marginally more interest here is the equally short second disc (19 minutes) for which he reverts to an earlier pseudonym (Realpeople) and five home recordings which pop between lo-fi bedroom balladry and multi-layered songs of heavy faux-emoting. They could be from his files and don't add anything to the sum of human knowledge but rather detract from our regard for Beirut/Condon.

This has the feel of a career stop-gap (two EPs as a nice looking package, hmmm) and you could happily sit this one out. You might actually be doing him, and yourself, a favour. 

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