Joe Boyd, a longtime record producer, talks about the Albanian “zaz” music.


Joe Boyd, a longtime record producer, talks about the Albanian “zaz” music.

Record producer Joe Boyd and a group of south Albanian singers and musicians recorded his new album. This is the record of a polyphonic Albanian music that reminds him of his rock-and-roll youth.

The connoisseurs of music and other music in the 1960s might know the name of Joe Boyd, and their name is becky redman, who wrote our theme music. Joe Boyd was recorded by pink Floyd, Nick drake and 10,000 lunatics. But he didn’t make a new album more than a decade ago, until now. It has a traditional Albanian recorded Albanian music. Where else would they record it?

Here is Vicky barker.

JOE BOYD: this is the second half of Track 2.

Andre gertler: yes.

VICKI BARKER, wired: Joe Boyd and his wife and collaborator Andrea Goertler are in a high-rise apartment near London’s little Venice. The lining walls are the original 1960s poster and 6000 LP, produced by Boyd dozens of them.



BARKER: music fills the room and takes us to a hilltop in southern Albania where a shepherd and his dog are kidnapped by robbers.


SAZ’ISO :(singing in Albanian)

BARKER: they gave him a dying wish – let him play the flute. In the valley below, his beloved heard wild and desperate tunes and understood everything.

Boyd: you know, he’s about to be killed. The sheep was stolen. The dog was killed in a different form in the Albanian land.

BARKER: welcome to the world of sazel music, the world’s shepherds and bandits, guerrilla invaders, heroism and tragedy and the story of longing.


SAZ’ISO :(singing in Albanian)

BARKER: that creepy sound – this is called polyphony.

Boyd: some people speculate that music is as old as Homer. Perhaps this is what the siren sang when he led Ulysses to the rock.

BARKER: for thousands of years, this has been accompanied by an Albanian wedding, harvest, funeral and festival. It is one of the oldest vocal traditions in the world.


SAZ’ISO :(singing in Albanian)

Barker: in the late 19th century, when albanians began migrating to cities, the collision with modern instruments was an earthquake, Andrea Goertler said, changing the country’s music.

GOERTLER: for centuries, people didn’t combine the music with the singing. So you either sing or you jump into this cappella or play an instrument. And all of a sudden, when people combine them,


SAZ’ISO :(singing in Albanian)

BARKER: for decades, Saze was supported by the communist government. But Albania’s political and geographical isolation and lack of decent studio means that few recordings have reached the outside world. So the new album should finally give Saze an early recognition, says Lucy Duran. The national music scholar and the world music producer is an old friend of Boyd and introduced him to him for the first time.

LUCY DURAN: this is a very regional music. This is very localized. It’s completely acoustic. This is absolutely sublime. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. It is amazing that at last there is such a good opportunity to be heard around the world.

Barker: but it’s not easy to get singers and instrumentalists together. When Albania’s communism collapsed, sze’s music stars were scattered. Male singer Robert trow became an orthodox priest. Two female singers Donicka Pecallari and Adrianna Thanou fled to Greece.

BOYD: Donicka went back to Albania to sing and actually went through a very difficult journey because she was very keen on the scene, and Andrianna was depressed and stopped singing for 25 years.

Buck: so what did Joe Boyd decide to do with this album?

Boyd: the form is still very much out of control. It’s just. It’s still alive. Even if it is surrounded by modern noise, it still lives in a non-conscious way.

Becker: Mr. Boyd says that in zazawa, he once again encountered an unconscious skill and spontaneity that led him to the 1960s rock music.

For NPR news, I’m Vicki Barker in London.

(pink FLOYD’s “any color you like”)


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