Front-man Zach Condon of indie folk rock band Beirut has a penchant for world music, pulling various cultural influences into every record he’s made. “Gallipoli” feels especially inspired. Some of the zest lacking in the band’s 2015 album “No No No” is fully realized in this new album.
Triumphant horns, Farfisa organ, synthesizer and parading drums pervade the tracks. Notes are channeled, according to Condon, through broken amplifiers, PA systems, space echoes and tape machines in order to create planned imperfection. Vocally, Condon comes through more powerful on this album than on “No No No.”
“Varieties of Exile,” ‘’Gallipoli” and “When I Die” are standouts. “Varieties of Exile” brings bohemian, island influences used by bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and adds The Smith’s Morrissey-like vocals.
The title track is lighthearted and jubilant, inspired by a brass processional Condon followed through the streets of the southern Italian town for which it is named. “When I Die” is more peaceful and joyful than morose. “When I die/I want to travel light,” Condon croons, “Don’t cry I/promise that I’ll get it right/I’ve been practicing my whole life.”
“Gallipoli” is the album we need today—one that celebrates the beauty of cultures colliding. Condon takes you with him, from the streets of Berlin to the coastline of Italy. As if cultural inclusion wasn’t obvious enough in its sonic representation, Condon makes it fully apparent on the band’s website which features an introduction to “Gallipoli” in seven languages including Portuguese and Japanese.
Hearing Condon return to vocal and expressive brilliance in this 12-track collection is a sigh of relief for Beirut fans. “Gallipoli” will be sweet music to the ears of new and non-fans, alike, as the band continues its exploration of diverse cultural sounds.
Rustin Man, “Drift Code”
Paul Webb had been working for years on a follow-up to his first album as Rustin Man — “Out of Season,” the stupendous 2002 collaboration with Portishead singer Beth Gibbons — but other projects kept getting in the way.
Then there was the issue of being able to perform the sounds in his head, which led to a lengthy process of learning several instruments — Webb was the bass player in Talk Talk — from accordion, harmonica and xylophone to a wide selection of guitars and keyboards.
Along the way, Webb recorded musical fragments on cassette and relied on the skills of former schoolmate and Talk Talk drummer Lee Harris during sessions at the barn in southeast England which serves both as recording studio and Webb’s family home.
The outcome of the process is “Drift Code,” where the influence of the rural setting is felt on songs like opener “Vanishing Heart” — a Dear Jane letter — “Martian Garden” and “All Summer,” as Webb’s voice turns out to be an eerie, warts-and-all combination of Robert Wyatt’s high-pitched oscillations and David Bowie’s, with the vulnerability it showed on his last albums.
The drama of the verdict on “Judgement Train” is heard in its sobbing guitar solo and the throbbing percussion leading the way to doom, while “Our Tomorrows” expresses the desire to slow time and sounds like a mashup of Jethro Tull, The Zombies and Ray Manzarek’s keyboards.
Relying, as well, on brass, string, woodwind and percussion players, the songs’ layering avoids saturation and their themes and melodies are easily absorbed.
On “The World’s in Town,” Webb sings “I’m drifting from day to day/And everywhere feels like my home.” On “Drift Code,” he’s inviting us into his own lair and it’s worth a visit.