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Xylouris White : Mother

Mother is the third album from the unique pairing of George Xylouris (voice, lute) and Jim White (percussion). It’s as fascinating as their previous records and manages to expand their horizons further again.

Lead single ‘Only Love’is the most immediate song on the album. The transplanting of Cretan folk to a strong backbeat results in something more like dance music than rock. Xylouris’ lute begins with rapid-fire picking that has the attack of a synthesiser’s arpeggiator, locked in with hi-hats in double-time. When the ‘drop’ hits, White’s groove is so driving that it’s impossible to ignore. Embracing a disciplined repetition but still sounding alive and wild, it must be heard to be comprehended.

The album unfolds in a similar way to the preceding album, 2016’s Black Peak; the charging momentum is expelled at the beginning, and the music gradually dissolves into spacious, exploratory pieces that take on a slightly sinister ambience.

This dynamic shift helps to sharpen the listener’s focus during the second half, every detail palpable and textured. Producer Guy Picciotto, formerly of Fugazi and now regarded as the third member to this duo, also deserves recognition for his part in capturing this intimacy.

Every track offers a different landscape and the range of tones is greater than previous records, with White introducing more percussion instruments and Xylouris expanding his playing techniques (the Blixa Bargeld-esque shriek in ‘Only Love’, for example). Mother is an entrancing listen and another vital document of this group’s development.

By Lee Parker