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Beirut’s Zach Condon set the collective minds of indie-folk fans on fire in October when he released “Gallipoli,” the first track off the band’s forthcoming fifth album of the same name. Details on the project have been relatively hard to come by since that first single’s release, but we’ve still got Beirut on the brain, so let’s dig in and see what we know.
In a statement preceding the release of “Gallipoli,” Condon explains that he spent the years following 2015’s No No No moving around, collecting instruments and trying to find some sort of inspiration. He attributes Gallipoli’s genesis to his rediscovery of the Farfisa organ that he wrote much of Gulag Orkestar on. His parents shipped it from their home in Santa Fe to his new home in New York, “caretaker’s home of a mansion owned by a multi-millionaire serving 20 years for tax and money fraud and I don’t know what else.”
That was far from the last stop on Condon’s journey of self-discovery, though. In 2017, following a skateboarding accident that left his arm broken and him unable to record music, Condon decided to spend some time in Berlin. During a cigarette break one night, he had an epiphany, deciding “to just pack things up and stay for good.”
After another few months of extensive songwriting and studio time, Condon took another trip, this time to the boot of Italy to visit the town of Gallipoli. It was there that he found the moniker for the nameless project he had been working on, and the inspiration to finish up the album: “We stumbled into a medieval-fortressed island town of Gallipoli one night and followed a brass band procession fronted by priests carrying a statue of the town’s saint through the winding narrow streets.” After that fateful evening, Condon started in on writing once again, and finally finished the album by mid-2018.
A Beirut album sounding well-traveled is nothing new. The band has always excelled at combining influences from both American and world music, and the wide array of bizarre instrumentation has become their calling card. With Gallipoli, the formula looks to be mostly unchanged. But that Farfisa organ, so instrumental to Condon’s early work, is making a comeback in a big way. It drives the melody of lead single “Gallipoli,” consistently churning underneath all the muted flugel fanfare.
Condon’s globetrotting search for a home looks to have some influence over the proceedings, as well. The album title tells us as much, obviously, but even the sonics of the title track seems to have been born out of that brass procession he followed through the streets that night. “Corfu,” meanwhile, sounds almost samba-esque, or at least something closer to American jazz than anything east of the Atlantic.
Sounds and the places they originate from have always been interlinked in Beirut’s work, but with such a vast array of stops along the road to finishing the album, it may be one of the more varied releases of Condon’s career.
As part of his winding album announcement note, Condon officially announced that Gallipoli would be out Feb. 1, 2019 via 4AD. The album’s nearly three-year gestation cycle is playing out slowly—we got a taste of two new tracks, the instrumental “Corfu” along with the title track, one after another, but Condon and company have been quiet since then. Here’s hoping that we get another globetrotting cut soon.
See the album’s cover art and complete tracklist below.
Gallipoli Album Art:
01. When I Die
03. Varieties of Exile
04. On Mainau Island
05. I Giardini
06. Gauze für Zah
09. Family Curse
10. Light in the Atoll
11. We Never Lived Here
Stay tuned for more on Beirut’s Gallipoli.