Review: Xylouris White – Goats

Xylouris White - GoatsGoats make for a wonderful metaphor for the music of Xylouris and White. Their rhythmic leaps are vast and improbable, but seemingly haphazard too – tom drums tumble like hooves scrambling to reassert footing upon near-vertical surfaces, and lute melodies gallop ahead of the rest of the body in dangerous reflexive manoeuvres. Like goats, they can often render the whole routine totally effortless, navigating nano-changes in gradient as if their convoluted path was the only possible option. I still wince in panic as the music appears to fall out of co-ordination with itself: front legs suddenly oblivious to what the back legs are doing, with the endless strip of Cretan tonality suddenly squashed, accordion-style, into a flurry of notes slipping upon the stones.

It’s an inevitable tension, born out of the inherent points of contrast between traditional Cretan music (a river of jovial slink and kink without discernable repeats) and rock music (a muscular, blunt delivery of a simple musical vocabulary). Yet there are flashes of symbiotic dependency too. “Run And La” has the lute nudging ride cymbals with its nose, while tom drums plant themselves like pillows to catch the major-key resonances as they tumble out. I can hear the nasal breaths of the performers, seemingly recovering from an earlier jolt of alarm. As with so many moments on the record, the melody is mysterious (perhaps improvised, perhaps not) and yet utterly welcoming. I can never come to know every scramble and leap that defines the goats’ journey across the Cretan countryside, but I come to love the method that brings it to be.

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