Saz’iso: At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me

As promised, here’s an update on the Albanian record I told you about last year (and badgered you for Kickstarter contributions to fund it).

We (my wife and co-producer Andrea Goertler and our partner-in-music Edit Pula) raised the money – thanks to many of you – and recorded it in Tirana last autumn. It was mixed in London in January and we then set about finding a label to release it.

At the 2015 Womex conference in Budapest, I met an American named Chris Eckman who runs Glitterbeat label. Ever since then, I kept seeing that name: Glitterbeat as “Womex Label of Year” three years running; Glitterbeat releases raved about in the Guardian; fRoots and Songlines; Glitterbeat on top of the European ‘world music’ radio play charts. Why not start at the top?

Eckman responded immediately upon hearing the mixes – Glitterbeat loved the record. He runs the label from his adopted home of Ljubjana, so he flew to Tirana to meet us and a deal was quickly done. Our all-star group of musicians and singers was named “Saz’iso”, and the album was titled (after a line in one of the songs about a boy yearning for the girl next door) “At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: the Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song”. Release date for this is October 13 – UK tour starting November 1.

Agonizing over the running order, organizing photos, commissioning transcriptions and translations of the lyrics, and asking Albania’s great Saze expert, Vasil Tole to write a historical essay; the seemingly endless work of preparing the package and promotional materials began. Andrea has been tireless – cajoling and researching, reconciling different opinions about regional dialect in the Albanian lyrics and nuanced translations; her life-long appreciation of good cd packages has not been for naught. I think everyone will agree that the texts in the cd booklet – and the vinyl package – reveal a fascinating world previously invisible to non-Albanians.

OK, enough backstory. Here’s a link to the Glitterbeat soundcloud site where you can hear the album’s opening track:

And, for those of you who live in the UK – or are interested enough to cross Channel or Ocean to hear them live – here is a link to Making Tracks’ (the tour promoter) website:

And this is the Glitterbeat artist page with the full press release (including a plug from Ry Cooder…)

So thanks again to all of you who encouraged and supported us – I think you’ll like it! I’ve really enjoyed being back in the studio again and seeing an idea take shape and manifest itself as an object! (I always liked that about records as opposed to films or books – the shorter time gap between impulse and result.) Working once again with Jerry Boys, the engineer I’ve travelled the world with in the past, has been great, as has collaborating with my co-producers. If I’d had partners like this in the past, I’d have been a way better producer!