January 27, 2020
White Hotel, ManchesterCretan laouto player Giorgos Xylouris and drummer Jim White weave in and out of one another’s music in semi-improvised steps
Xylouris White review – fearless and joyous Greek folk music
A former garage on an industrial estate in Salford may seem an unusual place to find traditional Greek folk music on a Sunday evening. Nevertheless, it plays out to a captivated room, accompanied by the occasional hiss of an incongruous smoke machine. Dirty Three drummer Jim White, who has also played with PJ Harvey, Smog and Cat Power, pummels his drums with remarkable deftness as he seamlessly glides between delicate touches and lightning-crack eruptions. His adaptable and loose style marries perfectly with that of Giorgos Xylouris, the Cretan laouto player and singer, as they weave in and out of one another in semi-improvised steps, touching upon jazz and post-rock.
In the first part of the set, Xylouris White play their latest album, The Sisypheans, in full. The format adds an element of expectation to proceedings – but while the crowd may know what comes next, the manner in which the duo approach the material remains unpredictable and ever-shifting. Xylouris’s chant-like singing, backed only by whispers of string work and hushed tip-tap drums, induces silence across the room. At other times, such as during the ever-building groove of Inland, the pair lock deep into a flurry, turning the reverent atmosphere celebratory.
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