Xylouris White have announced a run of US tour dates to celebrate the release of their upcoming sophomore LP “Black Peak”. The tour includes an appearance at Basilica Soundscape festival. Today they also shared the new track “Forging”.
When Xylouris White recorded their second album, this most intuitive and inquisitive of duos did what comes naturally to them: expanded their horizons. For George Xylouris, the Cretan lute player who partners here with the Dirty Three’s preternaturally fluent Australian drummer Jim White, one aim was to extend a core metaphor of their ruggedly visionary debut album, 2014’s Goats. “Like goats walking in the mountain” is Xylouris’ poetic analogy for their approach: “They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.”
“As we work together we can see the horizon is always open,” says Xylouris, “because that’s how we work. We give each other space, and that comes from the space we always try to give the bands and the people who we work with in the past.”
Partly, Black Peak pays testimony to both men’s remarkable histories. One of Crete’s best-loved artists, Xylouris is a scion of Greek musical royalty, a family from a mountain village near the Cave of Zeus. His father is revered singer / lyra player Psarandonis. A child when he began playing the lute, Xylouris would accompany his father in a backing role. Yet just as Psarandonis stretched the lyra’s range (“If music is measured in meter,” Psarandonis said, “I play in kilometre!”), so Xylouris elevated his eight-string laouto to the lead role in his Xylouris Ensemble.
Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three, storm’s-eye instrumental diviners whose emotionally choppy soundscapes brim with elemental force. Now New York-based, White is often found collaborating with artists (including: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power and Smog,).
PJ Harvey has likened White’s playing to dancing. Yet if dancers need partners, Black Peak also pays testimony to a friendship forged over 25-plus years. Xylouris was touring with his Ensemble when he met White in Melbourne in the early 1990s, when the drummer was in his pre-Dirty Three avant-rock outfit Venom P Stinger. In retrospect, a cycle of influence emerges: Xylouris’s 1990s live contributions to the Dirty Three seem to set a blueprint for Xylouris White, yet the Dirty Three were themselves inspired by Xylouris and Psarandonis.
That mutual admiration shapes the way the duo operate on Black Peak, always listening, encouraging, accommodating. “Each one has different roles at the same time, accompaniment and lead role,” explains Xylouris. “It’s very fluid.”
It took until 2013 for Xylouris and White to form as a duo, a process accelerated when White played with Xylouris and Psarandonis at a Nick Cave-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Australia. Just as other parties helped unite them, so the path to Black Peak was trod with support. The producer is Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, as on Goats (Xylouris: “His enthusiasm and aesthetic bring richness to the proceedings.”); the ghostly harmonies on “Erotokritos” come from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.
“All these things together, Jim from Australia, me from Crete, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy from Kentucky, Psarantonis from Crete, Guy Picciotto from Washington give us the inspiration of the horizon,” says Xylouris. “Jim and I travel a great deal and we like to do so. We have been doing that together the past three years, which is what inspired us to think of the horizon.
“We’re still goats,” he adds, “now on the horizon.”
Black Peak Tracklisting
1. Black Peak
3. Hey, Musicians
4. Erotokritos (Opening)
5. Short Rhapsody
6. Pretty Kondilies
7. The Feast
Sep 16th – Hudson, NY – Basilica Soundscape
Sep 28th – Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
Oct 4 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
Oct 5 – Los Angeles, CA – Resident
Oct 8 – Joshua Tree, CA – Furst World
Oct 9 – San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern
Oct 11 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
Oct 12 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile Back Bar
Nov 15 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse Music Hall
Nov 16 – New Haven, CT – BAR Nightclub
Nov 17 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Nov 18 – Brooklyn, NY – National Sawdust
Nov 20 – Somerville, MA – ONCE Lounge
Nov 22 – Burlington, VT – Arts Riot
Nov 23 – Montreal, QC – La Vitrola
Nov 24 –Wakefield, QC – The Black Sheep Inn
Nov 25 – Toronto, ON – The Drake Hotel
Nov 27 – Detroit, MI – Third Man Records
Nov 29 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
Nov 30 – Washington, DC – DC9
Dec 1 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Café
Dec 3 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen