Xylouris White - The Forest in Me

2023 CD release

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In 2019, following the release of and tour for The Sisypheans, Giorgos Xylouris, Jim White, and producer/third member Guy Picciotto took some time off and began discussing, then sketching ideas for new material via transcontinental digital transmission. White and Picciotto worked in the producer's Brooklyn basement, then sent files to Xylouris in Crete, where he added lyra (a violin-like instrument) and luato (a long-necked lute). White noted that this new process at least seeded a forthcoming record without employing their standard working themes or verbal speech; even dynamics emerged gradually. Picciotto compiled and combined music from both.

This process of making The Forest in Me proved intimate in a new way. Xylouris heard a certain solitude in the music; it matched the album's working title and their working method. These musicians, accustomed to communicating directly in the studio at the same time, had to channel an inner, subjective, creative language that would eventually be combined to create something bigger. Little did they know they were in the process of establishing a working M.O. that would become a necessity in just a few short months as the pandemic gripped the world.

Opener "Second Sister" offers a wonderful example. White's skeletal, syncopated tom-tom rhythm plays solo for a bit before Xylouris' amplified lauto offers a snaky, trance-like, fingerpicked Mediterranean blues. The short single "Latin White" is its polar opposite. As White offers a fleet, raucous tom-tom rhythm similar to rhumba espaƱola, Xylouris saws -- in tune -- across the lyra in rounds, adding sharp accents and basslines with the lauto. "Seeing the Everyday" is minimal, hushed, and poignant. Xylouris fingerpicks the lauto, registering ringing harmonics, attenuated single notes, and occasional ghostly chord voicings. His bass-string drone anchors his improvising. White's hands play the edge of a table, various drums, a tambourine, and other percussion instruments, simply to frame and highlight Xylouris' harmonic ideas. The low, brooding "Trails of Time" uses overdubbed lutes as White adds sparse, active, subtle percussion. The droning spaghetti western-esque theme threatens to explode at every turn but never gets close. The title track is subdued and formless. Muted tom-toms move from one channel to another in dialogue with an invisible metronome. The murk in Xylouris' treated sound makes his instruments blur, even sounding like drums in places. "Red Wine" emerges with a minor-key lute theme that walks the razor's edge between doomy rock, Mediterranean folk, and modal blues. The final third of the record is wonderfully strange and abstract; in places it sounds almost completely free -- especially "Memories and Souvenirs" and the closer, the haunting "Long Doll." These final four compositions on The Forest in Me invite listeners to eavesdrop on a creative process, in the process of emerging, from musicians undaunted by physical separation. They always find a compelling way of establishing a collective voice.

Thom Jurek ~ AllMusicGuide


SKU 781484086727
Barcode # 781484086727
Brand Drag City

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