Beirut - Hadsel

Regular price $ 25.99

After recurring health issues, including throat problems, forced him to cancel large portions of tours in support of 2019's Gallipoli, Beirut's Zach Condon headed to a cabin in Hadsel, in northern Norway, to rest and recuperate. In a part of the world with mountain views and northern lights but where the sun never rises above the horizon in winter (this was in early 2020), he took with him recording equipment including a borrowed pump organ, two rigs of modular synthesizers, an old tape machine, and his trumpet, among a handful of other gear. Condon soon also gained access to an early-19th century church organ, thanks to an invitation from a local resident. The isolation he experienced during his two months there continued upon his return to his apartment in Berlin, where pandemic mitigations were underway, so he worked on fleshing out his Norway recordings with additional instruments, including his baritone ukulele, various percussion, and a French horn. The organs, uke, and synths feature heavily in the sound of the completed Hadsel, his sixth album under the Beirut banner and one that takes the project back to its solitary, D.I.Y. origins. It's a record that also captures struggles with mental health, with songs like the bittersweet, swaying "So Many Plans" occupying the emotional territory between despair and acceptance. That song begins with rhythmically strummed ukulele, then mixes in syncopated and stomping percussion, pulsing brass, and additional vocal lines as he repeats the phrase "This had to end" and alternates "We had so many plans" with "We had so many friends." Tributes to his sojourn are also included among Hadsel's 12 tracks, including a bright, organ-based title track, the melancholy, ukulele- and water-splashed "Island Life," and the lusher "Arctic Forest," which features overlapping, round-like vocals and sustained organ tones. Elsewhere, "Melbu" offers a wistful organ interlude, and "The Tern," which was built on existing synthesizer and drum machine recordings, adds layers of church organ and lively hand percussion for a kinetic if lyrically unsettled outing ("You're not too late to find who you are…/But oh, I'm not so easy"). This mix of warmth and wariness permeates Hadsel and, despite its idiosyncratic inspirations and unorthodox instrumentation, may well make it a timely and timeless destination for those who relate to its juxtaposition of comfort and alienation.

Hadsel 4:55
Arctic Forest 3:55
Baion 4:06
So Many Plans 3:48
Melbu 2:20
Stokmarknes 4:11
Island Life 4:09
Spillhaugen 3:41
January 18th 3:42
Süddeutsches Ton-Bild-Studio 5:23
The Tern 4:15
Regulatory 3:19