by Gianpaolo Arena

Beirut “Gulag Orkestar” 2006 A-Zap records

Photo: Sergey Chilikov, Alatyr, 1995

Beirut is a formation of musical talent spearheaded by American songwriter Zach Condon, and includes members from influential bands Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk And A Hackshaw. Beirut’s influences are wide-ranging, and include but certainly are not limited to: Matt ElliottYann TiersenMagnetic FieldsOlivia Tremor ControlMicrophonesDecemberist,Bright EyesThe Smiths, and Calexic. Even closer to home, the sounds of their debut album, Gulag Orkestar, recall names like Django Reinhardt, Kocani Orkestar, Fanfare Ciocarlia, and Black Ox Orkestar, who were instrumental in crafting the ethno-folk styles found throughout Eastern European and Balkan Gypsy traditions.

Throughout this selection of songs, Beirut’s shady and choral ballads spin and slide between cinematic atmospheres: melancholy moods, desolate and painful echoes, and unto mestizo flavors and orchestral suggestions. All this presented with a bouquet of  violins, drums, trombones, accordions, mandolins, pianos, and cellos.

Like all vagabond journeys and errant drifts, the onset of Beirut is mercurial and unfriendly, but it often opensunique windows to wander with the mind into chipped and discolored postcards of the Mediterranean and of the Old Continent. The same taste of melancholy, drama and vitality of everyday life is present in the photographs of the author Sergey Chilikov. The same classic literature of the great Russian Province he describes so well.



© Still from the Music video by Beirut performing Gulag Orkestar (Live), 2009

© Music video by Beirut performing Elephant Gun, 2013

© Sergey Chilikov on Photography Gallery.Ru

© All copyright remains with the photographer and property


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