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Forging the Divide

Xylouris White is the sound of two people making music in a room. Person number one is Jim White of well-known Australian experimental rock trio Dirty Three. Person two is George Xylouris, one of Crete’s most beloved musicians, on vocals and lute. 

The result, evidenced on “Forging” from the duo’s 2016 release Black Peak, is something akin to punk, but also deeply rooted in the folk tradition of Xylouris’ native Crete. And like many folk traditions, there’s formalism but also creative naiveté — celebration, mourning and catharsis. 

The duo’s largely instrumental 2014 release Goats has a kind of post-rock, post-folk feel. “Forging,” focused much more on vocal melody and punctuated by White’s raw and responsive percussion, has more familiar reference points. 

Post-rock’s free-form song structure meets Xylouris' aggressive, chiming attack on his traditional instrument and unembellished vocalization. All this alongside a simple “musicians-in-a-room” take on production — dry and immediate — and you’re arrested by the music, not because all of that previously mentioned, but because of how it is different, how it disregards terms like folk, punk, post-rock or even rock itself. 

And anyway, isn’t this often the ignition point of really special music? Musicians in a room reacting and creatively sparking on a level beyond words — speaking on elemental terms, bridging divides much wider than the space between Crete and Australia on a map.

The new Xylouris White album, Black Peak, comes out Friday, Oct. 7.

Xylouris White plays with Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang) and Eugene’s Human Ottoman 9 pm Thursday, Oct.13, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door. All-ages.