Album Title: March of the Zapotec
Performer: Beirut
Label: Pompeii Records
Play Time: 60'02"
Recorded: 2008, 2001

22 year-old Zach Condon is heir to a famous jazz family legacy but for his music, the young trumpet player/programmer prefers Balkan brass bands, French chanson and Mexican Tamborazo Zacatecano to hot-blooded swing. As if channeling the original punk rock aesthetic, Condon's music (as heard with his band Beirut and its earlier releases, Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup), embraces creepy gypsy darkness, melancholic Balkan vocals and jarring brass bands - even the eccentric magnetism of 1950's Euro pop singers Yves Montand and Jacques Brel. Condon is practically a one-man band and with his thoroughly musical approach, he practically has no peers and no competition in the 20-something category.

Beirut's latest, March of the Zapotec, is coupled with Real People. Holland -- a collection of electronic gurgles Condon recorded when he was 15 attributed to the alias Realpeople -- and its back story is just as interesting as the music itself. Just as when Condon dropped out of community college to travel the streets of Paris and learn the way of the gypsies, his goal for March of the Zapotec concerned visiting the Mexican city of Oaxaca. There he studied the brass bands that performed in the town square and made friends with the Jimenez Bandwho blasted party, funeral and wedding favorites while matching wits with other local instrumentalists. Condon wrote songs for the Jimenez Band and recorded them with his laptop.

March of the Zapotec is time-warp music. One minute you're deep within a brass band plowing polka rhythms while Condon strums ukelele or blasts trumpet ("El Zocalo", "La Lloma"). The next you're wound up tight with the synthesizer gauze of Luke Vibert-worthy electronica ("My Night with the Prostitute", "My Wife, Lost in the Wild" and the Boards of Canada sound-alike "Venice"). Throughout, Condon's adenoidal vocals and irregular trumpet furthers March of the Zapotec's glorious sense of displacement. March of the
Zapotec never sounds nostalgic, much less bloodsucking. Much like Alan Lomax or the early Rolling Stones before him, Condon has simply studied the music of an ancient culture, then adapted their sounds to match the music in his head.