Beruit – La Llorona

Beruit – La Llorona

Owen Cook directs and animates Beirut’s “La Llorona” off of their recent double EP, March Of The Zapotec/Realpeople Holland. The cinematography could easily pass for an Oscar-nominated digital short, though “La Llorona” will more likely be appreciated by the MTV2-insomniac-YouTube-loving set (assuming this alleged audience actually exists).  With fluid illustrations of an uncomplicated, subtly poignant time, the video is an apt interpretation of Beirut’s sad yet celebratory waltz.  The lingering notes in “La Llorona” seem left over from this simpler, more provincial era.

The term “La Llorona” translates from Spanish into “the weeping woman”; it references the cautionary tale of a woman who, after suffering heartbreaking rejection, kills her own children, commits suicide, and is condemned to spend eternity as a weeping ghost. Think the anti-octuplet mom.  Frontman Zach Condon’s voice is both hauntingly powerful and languorous — like a eulogy contorting out of a soundtrack for some freaky Cirque du Soleil production. Condon’s timbre mirrors La Llorona’s sobs echoing aimlessly throughout Cook’s painted city.  However, his sound is far from effete; in fact, it’s way more drunken 50-year-old baritone than forlorn maiden.  Though Condon’s seemingly adolescent face plays like a kid who just mastered the recorder at school, his vocals mesh amidst Cook’s landscape with piercing timelessness well beyond his years (a sort of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke “my voice is just an instrument like the others”).

“La Llorona” was inspired by Condon’s recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and was recorded there accompanied by a 19 piece Jimenez band; they are rendered by Cook as black-and-white cartoon sketches with pulsating, golden wind instruments and clanging cymbals (sadly, no cowbell).  The video’s imagery evokes the band’s surroundings with an air of magical realism more reminiscent of the Mexico depicted in last season’s Weeds than in Girls Gone Wild Spring Break.  It’s a heavily cultured place; traditional with a slow-paced tempo, beating like the soles of clobbering shoes on weathered, cobblestone roads.  Almost like the fictitious Spanish speaking town of Macondo from Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude but as if visualized by Marc Chagall (perhaps a bit less colorful than his work).  Cook’s watercolor graveyards are smeared, looking muted and tear-stained.  Guided by Condon’s voice (embodied by a black dog cartoon), cadenced like a funeral procession through the streets, Cook’s animation lets Beirut fans act as voyeurs in this world and tells its story from their collective consciousness. The result is a video that is basically all around awesome.

Ever away from seeing more than life
The morning lies miles away from the night
No man ever could steal her heart but
With bright gold coins I’ll take my shot

And all it takes to fall
If you don’t walk, might as well crawl

All it takes to fall
What a quiet world after all
Of the things that you guessed will come
What a moment it was after all”

Beirut - March of the Zapotec & Realpeople - Holland - La Llorona