Beirut, Lon Gisland EP

Lindsey Thomas

By Lindsey Thomas

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
One-man Balkan band opens up his studio to his touring group

On the debut Gulag Orkestar, Beirut leader Zach Condon took Balkan music — which is often performed by as many musicians as possible without collapsing the stage — and boiled it down to a one-man bedroom act. But touring requires that he share the horn and string workload with an eight-piece band, who finally get their studio time on Lon Gisland. The EP is livelier than the mostly stoic debut, replacing the dirge-like anthems with bittersweet lilts (“Elephant Gun”) and driving instrumentals (“My Family's Role in the World Revolution”). It also features a full-band reworking of Gulag's “Scenic World,” with an accordion humanizing the original's electronic bossa nova backbone. In recent interviews, Condon said that his next album will forgo Balkan folk in favor of French cabaret pop. As promising as another round of eastern European studies would have been, the idea of Condon working his wail-and-croon routine over a new batch of appropriated sounds has me even more curious.