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Gulag Orkestar [VINYL]


Price: £13.08
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by marvelio-uk.
12 new from £9.69

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Amazon's Beirut Store

Music

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Visit Amazon's Beirut Store
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Frequently Bought Together

Gulag Orkestar [VINYL] + The Flying Club Cup + The Rip Tide
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Product Features

  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

Product details

  • Vinyl (9 Oct 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ba Da Bing
  • ASIN: B000HIVQ58
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,934 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

.. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Feb 2007
Format: Audio CD
To be honest, when I think of psychedelic bands I don't usually think of Balkan folk music. But with the release of Beirut's "Gulag Orkestar," I may have to revise my thinking.

This new band consists of teenage musician Zach Condon, along with people from Neutral Milk Hotel and A Hawk and a Hacksaw, making bittersweet folkpop and danceable marches. Imagine a band of slightly drunk gypsies on parade, and you'll have the general idea of how it sounds.

It opens slow, with a gentle piano and blaring horns. The title track meanders in circles and finally dies away... only to be reborn as a swaying march. Halfway through, Condon joins in with some mournful wails and equally mournful singing. That turns around in "Prenzluerberg," where the singing is just as melancholy, but the music is a cheerier march.

From there on, the trio tries out those styles and everything in between -- rattly folk with tambourines and horns, danceable folkpop, and tinkly klezmer music. Yes, tinkly klezmer. They get downright happy in "Scenic World," a colorful glockenspiel song that is just barely grounded by some quick violins.

After that, "Gulah Orkestar" is pretty upbeat, with a string of swaying marches and upbeat folk acoustics. The album's finale is a bit of a head-scratcher, though. "After the Curtain" is a relatively bare-bones song with Condon singing over applause and a dancing glockenspiel. I don't know how to fit that one in.

And this version has an addition: The "Lon Gisland" EP, which starts off with the bittersweet, playful horn pop "Elephant Gun," before slipping off into a ponderous march song, a colourful accordion tune (complete with clacking drumsticks), a sweep of soaring horns, and the delightfully bright "Carousels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Wallah on 10 April 2008
Format: Audio CD
Beirut, as well as being a geo-political hotspot, is the name adopted by the prodigiously-talented Zach Condon for his musical ensemble.

Condon is a 20-year-old stripling from New Mexico who is bizarrely, but encouragingly, obsessed with traditional East European music. Addled by gypsy Romanticism (to the extent that the sleeve notes tell us that the front and back photos were "found in a library in Leipzig torn out of a book") he has produced a remarkable album.

This intoxicating Balkan stew was mostly recorded in his Albuquerque bedroom. Multi-instrumentalist Condon plays trumpet, ukulele, piano, accordion, mandolin and percussion in addition to providing the marvellously plaintive vocals. He's backed by a superb band of Romany-influenced musicians.

This is Condon's third album (following the eclectic pairing of an electronica debut and a doo-wop sophomore effort) and this brisk stroll into the uncharted territory of Balkania comes from so far out of left field it could seem to be wilfully obscurist.

It's all the better for it. The opening track (The Gulag Orkestar) with its lamenting trumpets and discordant piano sounds like an anthem for the cancer-stricken and it's followed by a succession of supremely emotive pieces. It isn't all Slavic melancholia by any means though; much of the slightly ramshackle music is positively beautiful.

Condon is definitely one to keep under close observation. It's tremendously impressive that rather than being moody, cladding himself in black, listening to The Smiths and writing poetry in inclement weather his teenage miserabilism manifested itself in a superbly affecting piece of work that creates a soundscape of dissonant orotund swirls.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N2Peach on 3 May 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Prepare your ears for an oddity. From the 1st track this is a whirlwind trip around Eastern Europe via a slight distorting mirror. Then slowly but surely your heart starts to move and it is under your skin. Very little of the lyrics can be plainly discerned but the melody and emotion is so strong it doesn't matter. When you find some thing as different but so right as this it rekindles your whole reason for loving music. Get the credit card out now.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mike J. Wheeler on 5 May 2007
Format: Audio CD
I got hold of this last year when it first came out. At the time I listened to it and listened again and again..... I'll admit I wasn't really sure if this was very good or just utterly pretentious crap! I didn't get this with the first few listens - didn't get it at all. So I left it, unplayed for a few months. However, I did put it on my mp3 played, and whilst it was turned to random the other day, on came "Brandenburg". As I was "gloved up" at work I couldn't fast forward. But......remarkably this time it hit me! This IS good music!

I've listened to the whole of the album a few times over the past couple of days and yes, it is good all the way through.Saying that this won't be everyone's cup of tea - not by a long chalk! If you like your music to be daring, experimental, highly original and imbued with a deep melancholy then this might be for you. If you like music that you don't have to work at listening to then it is definitely not for you!

The whole album is a mix of Balkan-style folk, played with ukelele, mandolin, horns and percussion. Added to Condon's vocals which treble throughout, it's an odd but thoroughly moving piece of work. When I first heard it last year it sounded more like drunken mariachi than Balkan folk but I don't hear the mariachi band now I've listened again.

Standout tracks are "Brandenburg", the odd beer-hall style march "Prenzlauerburg", "Postcards from Italy", and the fabulously haunting "Rhineland".

"Gulag Orkestar" has been compared favourably to Neutral Milk Hotel's brilliant "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". As it features Jeremy Barnes who also drummed with Neutral Milk Hotel, I guess these comparisons were inevitable. I personally don't think this is up there with "In the Aeroplane" but then nothing is! This is though a great album that stands out from anything else you're ever likely to hear. (10/10)
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