Photo by Manolis Mathioudakis

Photo by Manolis Mathioudakis


They come from different parts of the world and from vastly divergent musical backgrounds, but the connection between George Xylouris and Jim White is palpable from the first note of their debut LP, Goats, to be released via Other Music Recording Co. on October 14 (October 13 in the UK/EU). Xylouris is a legendary Cretan folk musician, White is an icon of underground music, and together they have forged something surprising and impossible to categorize. Produced by Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, the album brings together these varied and inspired personalities to create something undeniably fresh and new.

George Xylouris was born into a Greek musical family of incomparable stature; his uncle, Nikos Xylouris, is arguably one of the most iconic Greek performers of all time; nicknamed the “archangel of Crete,” his songs are part of the fabric of modern Greek music. Nikos’ younger brother, Antonis Xylouris (George’s father), is better known as Psarandonis, a world-renowned singer and lyra player who has long pushed against the boundaries of traditional folk, playing his instrument with a passion and intensity that has made him a hero in Crete, a legend throughout Greece, and famous around the world amongst fans of international folk. George grew up playing the lute, and spent much of his youth accompanying Psarandonis on many of his most important recordings and performances, pushing the lute into new realms as his father does with the lyra. George is a dynamic player who has gone on to lead many ensembles of his own, performing on more than 70 albums, and while his approach to his music is many-faceted, his treatment of the lute as a lead instrument has frequently set him apart from the tradition he also embraces.

Jim White emerged from the Australian post-punk scene to become one of the most beloved and instantly recognizable drummers of today. Best known for his long-running role in Dirty Three, that trio’s unique instrumental line-up of violin, guitar and drums is perhaps the perfect format to showcase White’s distinct style, and like Xylouris, White frequently pushes his instrument into an unconventional lead role. A powerful and original player who has flourished in many settings, White has collaborated, toured and recorded with a wide array of brilliant artists over the years, including Cat Power, Will Oldham, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Bill Callahan, and many more.

When the duo first met through Xylouris’ Australian wife, a lifelong friend of White’s, their musical connection was as instantaneous and intense as it was surprising. Through a series of live performances and recording sessions in Greece, Australia, and New York City, the duo forged a new sound that was built on both of their incredible histories, while pushing themselves in new and unexpected directions. The addition of Guy Picciotto producing was the final piece of the puzzle, and Goats came into focus. Far from being a one-off recording, this is the beginning of what looks to be an ongoing collaboration, and one of the most expressive and personal of either musician’s long career; the duo is already working on a follow-up album, and will be touring the world throughout the fall and winter.


Ron Gaskill