DiscoverThe Art of LongevityThe Art of Longevity Season 8, Episode 4: Beirut
The Art of Longevity Season 8, Episode 4: Beirut

The Art of Longevity Season 8, Episode 4: Beirut

Update: 2023-11-17
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After the fiasco of having to cancel Beirut’s 2019 tour, Zach Condon knew he needed to take the time out to fully recover. Multiple infections, colds and in the end complicated throat ailments had led him to a total burnout, until finally:

“My manager and my tour manager saved me from myself. They told me I can’t keep touring. I threw in the towel and dissolved the touring group. I later saw the fiasco over refunds and all that, and I felt horrible about it”.

This adversity though, perhaps inevitably, led to Beirut’s latest project Hadsel, which may well be as close as a record can come to being a lifesaver. Hadsel is the album as therapy. Steeped in nature and with a meditative quality to it, it works perfectly as an immersive listen. And it works perfectly too as an expression of where Beirut finds itself as a band (even if on this occasion, Condon did everything himself).

“I was just looking for a cabin but found one with a pump organ so at that point, everything clicked. [this album] is a return to something I can’t put my finger on. But it feels more scrappy and raw somehow”.

If that doesn’t sound like creative progress, don’t worry. If Beirut’s early albums (Gulag Orkestar 2006, The Flying Club Cup, 2007) were unique, and impressive for critics and fans alike, they were essentially the product of Condon’s musical obsessions at the time - Balkan Brass, French Chanson and some mariachi thrown into the mix for good measure. Condon stripped back those styles somewhat on later albums such as The Riptide and No No No. The latter contained a lean set of what you might even call catchy tunes.

Those records were proof that through all the unique stylings, there is a substance to Condon’s work that always comes through. He writes lovely songs with strong melodies. Perhaps in the end, that is why Beirut’s songs have foound their way onto playlists and done relatively well on streaming platforms, especially Spotify.

Zach is both amused and bemused by this at once, not recognising most of the other songs and bands he is juxtaposed with on those playlists (largely in the crudely tagged category of indie). But then his whole career has not been one of following the music industry conventional forms. Instead, Zach has always found an alternative route.

“I’ve always felt that I stood right outside the river. The music industry is this river and it’s always flowing in this direction and there are all these people that are part of it, moving along with it. And I’m outside it, but somehow I've made my living and I’ve found my audience”.

Good thing too, since when music is a destiny calling, there’s no point becoming too attached to the outcomes, just focus on the music from project to project and make it as good as it can be.

"I didn’t really choose music but as an obsessive - music was a type of possession where everything else disappeared. It was an addiction in many ways and still is”.

It may come as some relief to Beirut or not, but somehow through all the adversity of recent years, the winter solace of Norway, and his nomadic approach to music making has literally taken his music even further. 

Full write at https://www.songsommelier.com/

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The Art of Longevity Season 8, Episode 4: Beirut

The Art of Longevity Season 8, Episode 4: Beirut

The Song Sommelier