Jim White and George Xylouris have made a potent pair in the past, churning traditional Greek songwriting into something more mercurial for the past five or so years. In that time, they’ve put together three albums of dizzying sun salutations that seem rooted in the hills, wound tight with roots and rocks. Each song dug from the fresh cut earth like a bulb waiting to burst is treated with care by the veteran musicians. It’s clear that these two have been forging their respective talents for years in the fires of improvisation and their fourth album cements their bond as fluid players completely in tune with one another. White’s drums tumble and shudder, sending an unusual amount of emotion quivering between sticks and skins. Likewise, Xylouris seems to divine something elemental in his songs. His playing brings to mind the trance of exhumations of Native American folk song and the meditative float of ragas, but contained in something that is wholly and intrinsically linked to his Greek homeland.
After completing their trilogy – Goats, Black Peak, Mother – the duo focuses their gaze this time on the myth of Sisyphus and his duty to drag that boulder up the hill for all eternity. It seems a parable of rut, the idea that one is condemned to forever complete the same task thanklessly over the course of life. It’s the ultimate parallel to the cubical bound cruisers. Xylouris didn’t see it that way, though, instead preferring to think of Sisyphus as completing the same task but finding different tessellations to complete it. He may have the same start and the same end but that’s not to say the points between have to remain static. They saw a bit of themselves in Sisyphus, which makes sense for musicians. While not condemned, they are set to play the same songs live night after night.
No one said they have to be the same versions, though. Each new approach warrants a new take on something familiar. Each new set births a new journey and that in itself is beautiful. While that setup would lead me to expect the record might work on a series of motifs, its not that rigid. The pair fleshes out another record that takes the listener on a journey, bringing life to the rock and elevating Sisyphus from warning to artist. Odds are if you were on board with the last three, this is going to hit the spot. If this is your first dip into Xylouris White, it’s a good place to start as well.
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