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Xylouris White
Mother Patrick Clarke , February 2nd, 2018 17:25

George Xylouris and Jim White offer brilliant detonations and sombre elegance in frustratingly unequal measure

There is an early point on Mother that is so breathlessly extraordinary, so explosively rabid and intense and yet so concentrated in its power that it casts a shadow that’s almost too tremendous. ‘Only Love’ is a three-and-a-half-minute eruption that comes right at the start; save for the atmospheric tone-setter ‘In Media Res’, it’s the first thing you hear of the third collaborative LP between Cretan lute player George Xylouris and Australian drummer Jim White.

The way Xylouris and White careen and bounce off of each other on ‘Only Love’ is irresistible, the latter’s rhythm pounds and plunges, catapults and careens as it barrels forward with unstoppable force, while the former rapidly weaves line after line of elastic lute with the frantic, knife-edge intensity of a man who's expending every ounce of energy and passion on simply keeping up. Xylouris’ vocals, meanwhile, ride this exuberant backdrop with elation, rich and deep with a glint of satisfaction, descending at the death into a gleeful growl.

There is another side to Xylouris White, though, a more elegant and decorous face that appears immediately afterwards on ‘Motorcycle Kondilies’. Here Xylouris’ lute sways and wavers, waiting for space to appear in a gentler, earthier rhythm before leaping in with a quick and lavish flick. His vocals, too, are equally at ease in a slower, more opulent mode. There are moments elsewhere, as on the penultimate ‘Call And Response’, where this descends further into a swarming, opaque gloom, where again the pair excel.

Mother finds the band tremendous on all fronts, but the rabid, manic excitement of ‘Only Love’ overshadows everything else. There are no other moments on the record like it, nothing as intensely unhinged or exciting. However lovely and affecting the rest of the record is, as it drifts further and further into more serene climes, the spectre of this extraordinary early blast grows in the back of your mind, and you're willing them to let go of their beautiful refinement just one more time.