Hear this mesmerising ancient group-form folk singing from Grupi Lab. A supergroup of legendary singers from southern Albania, the group are here to perform their breathtaking and earthy isopolyphonic singing (Këngë Labë) for the first time in the UK. Led by 'Artist of the People' Golik Jaupi, their 3000-year-old shepherd songs, are on the UNESCO world heritage list, in danger of being lost forever and are also claimed to have been the inspiration for Homer's sirens. Their 3-voice drone, embellished by intricate melodies and chirping, are a sound to behold.
When Grupi Lab sing, the earth shakes.
Southern Albania is home to isopolyphonic singing, one of many distinct traditions of polyphonic music from across the Balkans and the Caucasus. It's a form of singing unique for its inclusion of the “iso” — a long, continuous monophonic drone that resonates beneath a polyphony of voices.
Nobody really knows the origin of this form of music; the practice is mentioned explicitly in folk tales from 1,000 years ago. But, as said in Washed By The Moon, the film about the place/singing, “wherever you had three or more shepherds, you had this music”. In fact, of the many intricate layers within the music, the most complex uses the voice to replicate goats and cows’ bells. “The technique for this is extremely secret and is passed down from generation to generation. Be enfolded into the songs of the mountains.