The Sound Of Xáos: This is a Greek Odyssey with a 21st century sensibility that proudly delves into a nation’s rich, mysterious musical past to produce an album that flies a defiant banner for a Greek nation battered and bruised by Euro-capitalist austerity.
Xáos is not Nana Mouskouri nor Demis Roussos nor Vangelis. This is no plate smashing bazouki runnings, this is some very deep Greek bizniz that’s been fermenting in the radical musical minds of Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page and his cousin Ahetas Jimi for nigh on ten years. Both are couple of deeply intellectual Greek geezers who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and reasoning with for more a couple of decades. In fact, I’ve known Nick since the days of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra – an ensemble that could well have been a source of inspiration for Soul II Soul- and I’ve followed his moves through Transglobal Underground to more recent projects like the incredibly on point ‘Syriana’ and the Ethio-Reggae experiments of Dub Colossus. Jimi on the other hand is a wild card who moves between the Greek islands and London; he paints, makes microtonal music and is a talented avante garde survivor.
‘Xáos’ is pure ancient to future. From the opening salvo of ‘Pontos Blues’ we are immersed in sounds and evasive melodies that span the northern most part of Greece, the island of Crete, Pontos by the Black Sea, Thrace, Ipiros and the Peloponnese. Along with Ahetas’ analogue synths (Arp 2600), keys and programming and Dubulah’s de-tuned Dobro guitar we are treated an array of ancient instrumentation that emerge through a haze of time. There a timeless Nay flutes, Bul Bul double pipes, the haunting Gaida (bagpipes), Clarino and the exquisite Pontic lyra. There’s a junk drum kit and various frame drums plus there’s an amazing bassist – Georgios Kalaitzoglou – who plays, according to Nick, “high harmonics in the style of Byzantine singing, quarter tones and all!” Head straight to track 9!
Personally, I play this album loud and whoever I’ve played it to ‘Xáos’ has generated the warmest of responses. I have huge respect for these musicians, who despite the odds and initial lack of interest from the powers that be, for pulling off this politically timely and deeply resonant artistic project. They’ve already notched up 5 stars in the Guardian, one of an impressive stack of adulatory reviews, and right now, I would love to hear the full Xáos ensemble, in all it’s Grecian glory, in a church or an equally appropriate acoustic setting.