tue 17/09/2019

CD: Xylouris White - Mother | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Xylouris White - Mother

CD: Xylouris White - Mother

The simple magic of two maestros interlocking their styles continues to intensify

If you see any list of greatest living drummers and the Australian Jim White isn't on it, you should look at it askance. Since he started Dirty Three in the early '90s, White has played with the cream of global alt-rock musicians: the Nick Caves, PJ Harveys, Cat Powers and Will Oldhams. But he's way, way more than a sideman, and the closer he is to the front of the stage, the more interesting the music will be.

His playing is uniquely conversational and interactive, locking into and rolling around whatever foil is presented to it, often making him closer to a free jazz player than a rock drummer. His 2007 duo project with Nina Nastasia was one of the finest encapsulations of this, his drums intertwining with her voice and storytelling more like another voice than a rhythm instrument. And more recently his duo with Cretan lute (or λαούτο - “laouto”) player George Xylouris has built one of the most intimate instrumental relationships in modern music.

Their musical rapport goes back a quarter century or more, but it was only in 2013 that they started recording together. This is the third album for the Xylouris White project, and it feels like they're now deep into a conversation in a language only they speak. Not entirely comprehensible, obviously, but sometimes when you stumble on a conversation between great minds you don't need to understand it to appreciate its ebbs, flows, contours and contortions.

Xylouris sings a good deal here, in Greek, and it's by turns rousing (as on the adrenalised “Only Love”) and mystically seductive (“Daphne”, “Lullaby”) when he does. There's some moody viola too. But more than anything, it's the interplay between the two main instrumentalists that matters here: it's impossible to tell what's composed and what's improvised, what comes from ancient folk tradition and what's plucked out of the air in the moment. It's dark and magical music, and there's nothing else like it.

Sometimes when you stumble on a conversation between great minds you don't need to understand it to appreciate it


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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