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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

Beirut’s “Flying Club Cup” Video #4: “La Banlieue”

By on February 27, 2009

This entry is part of a series, Flying Club Cup Videos by Beirut»

Here is the video from the fourth song on Flying Club Cup by Beirut (Zach Condon and band). The song is “La Banlieue”

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La banlieue (literally “the outskirts”) is the French term for an area of low income housing around the edge of a city. It’s the hood.

The song is one of two instrumentals on the album. More than any of the videos so far, this one reinforces my idea that the “story” of this video series is the relationship between what the artist hears in his head and the actual product that listeners eventually hear. It is said that Beethoven was not hampered in his composition by his deafness late in life because he could look at a piece of music and hear the complete orchestration in his head.

In this video Zach seats himself on the steps of a Brooklyn apartment building, and his band members file past as if he is not there (or as if they aren’t there). Zach starts a hand-held cassette recorder and nods to the accordionist, who starts the song. Strangely, we hear the other players, and the camera looks up to find them leaning out the second floor windows with their instruments. At the end, Zach clicks off the recorder, then brings it to his ear and hits play. Curiously enough, what we hear is not the simple group of instruments we just saw play, but the album version of the song, the finished product, with many other instruments! A smile of satisfaction briefly traces across Zach’s face, and then he sets the recorder down, still playing, and leaves.

Artists have always been la banlieue, the outskirts of society. Perhaps this is because they see and hear things the rest of us never realize are there.


The Flying Club Cup (CD)
The Flying Club Cup (download)



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