Third Man Records has announced the upcoming release of Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices, a first album of Greek-Albanian polyphonic songs performed by the all-female vocal ensemble, Isokratisses. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, musicologist, archivist, and author Christopher C. King (Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music), the landmark collection is heralded by today’s premiere of “On Deropoli’s Plain,” available now at all DSPs and streaming services. Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices arrives everywhere on Friday, October 14. Pre-saves/pre-orders are available now.
Isokratisses – Greek for “women who sing the iso” (or drone) – is a vocal ensemble of eight women who carry on the ancient tradition of polyphonic songs from Epirus, a region in northern Greece and southern Albania. Born and reared in the Greek-speaking villages around Deropoli and Politsani in Albania, the women of Isokratisses have sung these songs since childhood. The members of Isokratisses were nurtured by this archaic music, listening to and singing songs passed down from generation to generation with their family and friends.
Cry With Tears: Greek-Albanian Songs of Many Voices celebrates the communal nature of polyphonic singing, reasserting the primacy of female voices in the southern Balkans while revitalizing the art. Isokratisses singing these songs builds an invisible bridge that connects the present with the past, memories of childhood merging with the immediacy of daily life. The polyphonic songs of Epirus are part of an ancient oral tradition, social music that has long been woven into the fabric of poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised communities. Many of the songs are variations of mirologia – songs of fate, songs of mourning – that were once sung throughout the southern Balkans but have largely disappeared except for Epirus. Structurally, the songs on Cry With Tears are pentatonic – that is, five notes with no semitones – and are composed of three or four distinct melodic voices that weave together in an organic yet unexpected way. The remaining members of the group provide the iso – or “drone” – that serves as the low tonic note of the melody.
The members of Isokratisses meet often in different places to celebrate this unique musical language, including a 2019 collaboration with Christopher C. King at Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, Holland – the group’s first-ever performance together outside of the borders of Greece (streaming in its entirety HERE). A series of rare North American performances will be held marking the release of Cry With Tears, including: