Lament from Epirus
An Odyssey into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music
In the tradition of Patrick Leigh Fermor and Geoff Dyer, a Grammy-winning producer discovers a powerful and ancient folk music tradition.
In a dark record shop in Istanbul, Christopher King uncovered some of the strangest—and most hypnotic—sounds he had ever heard. The 78s seemed to tap into a primal well of emotion inaccessible to contemporary music. The songs, King learned, were from Epirus, an area straddling southern Albania and northwestern Greece and boasting a folk tradition extending back to the pre-Homeric era. Lament from Epirus is an unforgettable journey into a musical obsession which follows a genre back to the roots of song itself. As King hunts for traces of two long-lost virtuosos, he tells the story of the Roma people who pioneered Epirotic folk music and whose descendants continue the tradition today. His journey becomes an investigation into song and dance’s role as a means of spiritual healing—and what this may reveal about music’s original purpose.
“Christopher King’s relationship to music is passionate and profound. As a scholar and obsessive collector of 78s he has few peers. Lament from Epirus will delight anyone who has ever put the needle down on an unknown record and waited to see what would come out of the speakers.”
— Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears
“Anyone interested in the power of music—spiritually, culturally, historically, or politically—will find this odyssey to be transformative. By way of an anthropological detective story, Christopher King deftly reveals details and echoing connections I personally never even imagined. Fascinating.” — Jim Jarmusch