May
13
2018

Xylouris White

MOTHER

(ABC)

8.5/10

xw resIn concert George Xylouris and Jim White conjure up a mighty sound for just a duo, given that the former plays lute or lyra and the latter (of Dirty Three fame) a drum-kit. Here that sheer mass often seems like a wall of water: a vast wave of sound rearing up and threatening to crush you where you sit. This is not a matter of how loudly you listen to the album or the way it has been produced, it is due to the sheer intensity of the playing and of Xylouris’s singing.

The latter comes via a baritone voice that could just as credibly emanate from a mouth in the earth of his native Crete as from a man. It is raw and timeless, and the edge of anguish it carries is profoundly truthful. Seven of the nine pieces are penned by the pair, sometimes using an extant poem as a lyric, and two are reimagined traditional songs. Each piece is conceived as a sound-world in which to explore fresh sets of possibilities; fresh ways for White’s keen instinct for texture and density to interact with Xylouris’s rolling or spitting instrumental melodies, and when they both catch the same breaking wave of propulsion (as on Only Love) – stand well back!