Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Alaska In Winter - Dance Party In The Balkans

Alaska In Winter
Dance Party In The Balkans
(08. 2007, Regular Beat)
Verdict: The Balkans are so hott right now.

I've been meaning to highlight this album for quite some time now. I've been cementing my views into place after extreme repeat upon repeat listen. Dance Party In The Balkans was labeled as a "Beirut side-project" by many when it first came out. I won't lie, that is why I picked up the album. Then, as I listened to it I realized that Zach Condon only lends his talents to the album occasionally and Dance Party In The Balkans really has little to do with him. I was instantly enthralled in the calm of the album and intrigued by how different it was than I was expecting it to be from reading reviews over hyping Condon and Trost's participation. Alaska In Winter is Brandon Bethancourt, an Arizona native and long time friend of both Zach Condon and his other collaberator, Heather Trost of A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Brandon recorded the bulk of the album in Alaska, in the winter before bringing it home to Arizona to perfect, and you can tell. Throughout the album is a lacy chill, cold, downtempo, and remote feel. It's isolated gypsy electro with often manipulated soft and subdued vocals over layers of simple loops and catchy melodies. Break beat percussion is the backbone to the flighty sinews that make up the thirteen tracks. All these ingredients combine to be an absolutely mesmerizing and aesthetically solid sound. Let us not forget Bethancourt is the sole genious behind this gorgeous album.


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