Label: Pompeii Records Release Date: 16/02/09 Link: www.beirutband.com The mighty arranger behind the Eastern European/Mariarchi big band sensation that is Beirut, otherwise known as Zach Condon has returned to mark his work of 2008 with this special combination of two E.Ps: March of the Zapotec and Holland. The two records show the brilliance of Beirut's diversity and creativity, and work sensationally when put together as one album, displaying a transition from one genre to another, while keeping a relation between all the tracks that compliment each other as though this were a single album. The first E.P is under the name of Beirut and was recorded with Mexican funeral march orchestra, The Jimenez Band. With their aid, March of the Zapotec contains music that leans more to the grass roots than anything Beirut has ever done, and it is magnificent. Never have I wanted to stomp through the cobbled alleys at a village festival, brandishing a baton until now, after having heard the frantic, symbol smashing introduction, 'El Zocalo'. As the first E.P carries on we are subjected to the dramatic style used by the funeral marching bands of small Mexican villages. The Jimenez Band are said to be one of the naive orchestras made up of village populations, but they sound fit for a state funeral, with their grand, churning rhythms. After listening to Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup you would forget that Condon spent more of his life making electronic music in his bedroom. But once the oom-pa production number of 'The Shrew' finishes, we are transported with the next E.P back to Condon's previous outfit, Realpeople. The songs from Holland purposefully sound like bedroom music, dominated by synthesisers and not much else. It works well though, in fact it works tremendously. The keyboard synths are ambient and comforting, and it still conjures up romantic images for me. I can tell from 'My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille' and 'Venice' that Condon's wonderful influence on the mind and emotion didn't start with Beirut; it was with him from the start. There is still the interruption from 'The Concubine' however, to remind me of his great transformation from electronic to acoustic. Bizarrely the E.P finishes on what sounds like the introduction to a Japanese children's TV show. Yet again, it works. It is a relief to see that despite his cancellation of his European tour and spontaneous need for a break, Zach Condon is not finished with music yet and Beirut has a long time still to do some incredible work. 9/10