The minimalist cover of ‘Black Peak’, the second collaboration between Dirty Three’s Jim White and Cretan lute player Giorgios Xylouris, presents it as the sort of brooding post rock you would usually expect from the former. Instead, it sounds like taverna music as recorded for Dischord – fitting, then, that Washington polymath Guy Picciotto went behind the boards for the LP. Having formerly produced the disarming crescendos and spartan folk of the likes of Thee Silver Mount Zion and the late Vic Chesnutt, Picciotto is an unexpectedly perfect fit.
White’s lyrical drumming and Xylouris’s orchestral lute and chest-beating vocals fill every corner of the mix, and you’d be hard pressed to think where any more instruments could fit into the arrangements. When they do, though (‘The Feast’ is a stunning duet between Xylouris and his father, Psarandonis) it always works. ‘Black Peak’ stands on its own in 2016’s musical landscape, at once familiar and abstract – post-SOMETHING, though you can’t say quite what.
If you only buy one Cretan/Australian lute-and-drum collaboration album this year, make it this.