Beirut: Artifacts (Pompeii) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, June 5th, 2023  




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Multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon’s band Beirut have been playing their unique blend of jazz, folk, and Balkan brass music since their debut album Gulag Orkestar in 2006. But Artifacts goes back even further by re-releasing a few early Beirut EPs and even a presenting a few unreleased old recordings from Condon’s teenage years, while remixing and remastering it all into a 26-track double-LP of Beirut artifacts.

But while this collection of cosmopolitan oddities includes some intriguing material, it can’t avoid the pitfalls of a “B-sides and rarities” album and is therefore hardly an attempt to woo new fans and contains some tracks that feel more like conceptual musical ideas rather than fully formed songs that weren’t good enough to make it off the cutting room floor in the first place.

Conversely, the best tracks on Artifacts have a surreal quality to the song’s arrangements that adds up to a feeling of being enveloped and enraptured by whimsies and trances as they move through a varied rock landscape of sublime melodies. Songs such as “Irrlichter,” “Die Treue zum Ursprung,” and “Autumn Tall Tales” start with delicate tones that are looped, shaped, and formed into a bed of subtly shifting textures to which melodic accents are added. The songs do not so much erupt with bursting melodies, but rather come to a slow boil with an airy and dreamy ambience, thanks to the vibrant brass, string, and piano riffs.

And while a few other pieces are a warm and fuzzy kind of rock with woozy orchestrations and a pleasant swirl of sound, they often sound as if they’re playing from a bygone era through an old radio with poor reception and static, although with clever arrangements, playful horns, and a pleasing cacophony of motley instrumentation.

Ultimately, Artifacts includes some alluring material that will keep fans entertained until the next album, but most likely will have them returning to their favorite album tracks for a more satisfying fix of Beirut’s unique musical style. (

Author rating: 5.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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