(A boy flees the town when young, embarking on a route through the abandoned land with pop in his heart and a horn-net rested on his arm, charming device entirely of his own imagination. He leaves Santa Fe in search of raw and temperamental Slavic charms, humming the nostalgia of sweet idle dreary days of breathtaking sunsets on the Rhine.)
Flugelhorn in hand Zach Condon strides through the Balkans, seizing trumpet heavy sounds drowned in despaired homelessness of the gypsies. Not many of the folk-labelled lines sink in the memory as intensely as the first tones of “The Gulag Orkestar”, raw uncompromised pure emotion of impoverished innate beauty of the European East. With a deep and moving trombone blow he collects sounds, smiles, tears and shouts of the people on route, an enchanted boy dreamingly catching fluttering butterflies into a record that transforms you on a roof of a corroded car in the most beautiful of the European wastelands. And with the same trombone he speaks of a certain place amongst the people whose love stories and heartbreaks you hear, being gently swept from one tale onto another until the curtain falls, musicians take a bow and the childhood dream takes us west.
There, escaping dwelling emotions of the people of no hope, the boy takes a fearless leap into the light and frivolous sighs, shattered souls and golden rocks. Unintentionally he drops us in the midst of a flickering nostalgic romance and rhythmically swaying wine fuelled parties. He takes a dip into the willow tree homes, local bars and cafes, floating on a flickering surface of the musical and cultural continental wealth. Constantly inspired and yet continuously distracted, he chases round holding onto his accordion with words of adventures gracefully fleeing his mouth.
With a flamboyant charm he thrusts a bottle behind him, blood coloured drops filling the final cup of airborne nights and the quenching mouths of daughters of the red lights. The boy is now marching along the Zapotecean funeral conduct in an intense, poignant fusion of trombones and trumpets and all flugelhorns of the forgotten world, shedding tears for the longing of the lonely night. Mostly unspoken through bitter sad trumpet blows of the love ending, he intermittently cries in a shriek of hopelessness, drowned in seas of wailing sound.
With wedding tones of “El Zocalo” at its doorstep the story tumbles down to a bleak disco of “No Dice”. World traveller is there to detail joys and sorrows of prostitutes and wives, their goodbyes and longings with hums and clatters, scarcely meaningful words, like the most skilful photographer, providing the expression backed with immaculate setting.
A boy so sensitive to a sound he has felt inspired by so many, drawn to the myths and fables afar is coming home! At its geographic roots he records the most melodic album in the band’s history, embracing the tradition he was born into, tradition of the sound that underpins all three journeys, yet blossoms to a full glow on “The Rip Tide”, a record entirely devoted to it.
Anchored at the end of the young man’s world, it feels less concentrated on capturing a specific sound. “The Rip Tide” is far less precise, with bits of everything that pop has entailed thrown in, spiced up, tried, neglected and picked up again, from electronic upbeats of “Santa Fe”, through piano based choir powered saddened “Goshen” to lazily chanted “The Peacock”.
Troubled tired grown up boy is home to sing en eulogy to Santa Fe on an effortless nostalgic journey through the lazily composed sounds of the childhood he is trying to recall touching upon all he can grasp, remember and evoke. Yet his restless soul begins to wonder with the same vivid vision, flair and sensitivity Zach Condon enchanted us with his venture into the soul of the Balkans:
Where should I begin, begin?
He’s the only one who knows the words
And he’s the only one who knows the words