Mother, Xylorious White’s third full length record, is a truly unique piece of work. Recorded and produced by Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, the fusion of Cretan lute player, Giorgias Xlyouris, with drummer Jim White, (best known for his work in The Dirty Three and Cat Power), is something both mystical and beautiful. Drawing upon the myths and folklore from Xlyorious’ background, the two have spent the better part of the last five years playing live and recording (supporting PJ Harvey in Freo last year).
The album commences with In Medias Res, a beautiful and mystique rabble of noise. The track features a melancholic violin that cuts through the mixture of lute, drums and other percussions, not dissimilar to recent Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Xylorious’ vocals accentuate many of the albums’ tracks. His lyrical output covers a wide range of style in his delivery. On Daphne, a quiet, lulling track, the vocals are delivered cautiously with a warning-like phrasing whilst on the more traditional folk sounding Motorcycle Kondilies, the vocals are called out, as vowels are stretched and a response is sought.
Spud’s Garden features a beautiful lute melody backed by militaristic snare sounds, while a violin plays out over the top layering the track elegantly. Achillies Heel is a tender moment, with the vocals close to spoken word, but is not to be out done by Woman From Anogeia, a loving ballad that is teased out over simple lute and ruffled snare.
While the whole album shines, there are two distinct moments that stand out from the rest. The first of these comes with the second track, Only Love. A crazed, fast tempo number with a solid disco-like rock beat that sounds very modern, but also very timeless, the track escapes classification but yet defines what makes this collaboration special.
The second stand out moment comes with the improv-styled Call and Response. The sheer sparseness of the drumming and instrumentation suggests that perhaps this is not actually a track, instead it is a a warm up or out-take. But as the track continues, a rhythm is set upon, a gentle background swell commences, and the piece finds its home within the same modern classical cannon of Erik Satie’s furniture music.
Ultimately, there is a history that the two are drawing on here, but this is almost forgotten, as really what they are doing is making something very modern. Elegance and abandon are at play, as two consummate instrumentalists flex their muscles, looking to go somewhere that is not anywhere and simply enjoying the ride.
MICHAEL D HOLLICK