Xáos - Chaos

RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Pomegranate Recordings/Independent Records Ltd (irl.org.uk)

It begins with the ocean, but then again, it always did, a primordial ooze that gasped forth fish and the monuments of civilizations. And people, leaving behind the detritus of their past, building societies on top of other societies, making way for the ghosts of the future. At the time that I am writing this review of Xáos' music, Greece is in a painful, liminal stage, caught between failed government and European demands for austerity. The future looks bleak for a country mired in debt, but Greece rests upon a history that drifts and mixes through our collective unconscious: Olympian gods, myths of trials and tribulations, the lustful fertility of Pan, the blackness of the river Styx, and New York diner coffee cups that declare “We Are Happy To Serve You.”

Xáos is the project of Ahetas, a Greek painter and musician, and Dubulah (whose mother is Greek), the musician best known for his work in Transglobal Underground, Dub Colossus, and with Natacha Atlas. The album Chaos is a deeply ambient work - tone poems of the Greek landscape and subconscious. Given Dubulah's impeccable resumé of club music, one might have thought that Xáos could have opted for a more 'pop'/dancefloor treatment of Greek music. Instead, Ahetas, Dubulah, and Giorgos Kalaitzoglou (on double bass) opted to challenge listeners with immersive soundscapes that juxtapose ancient Greek instruments with electronics. Ahetas is a microtonal electronic composer, and the use of space and drones on this album – combined with Dubulah's mastery of electronics and the studio – creates otherworldly shadowplays in the mind's eye.

Chaos offers an ambient music that is ritualistic and primal. Nay flutes, Pontic lyra, Greek pipes (gaida), kanonake, and bul bul double flute all emerge from the mists on the album. These are all worked into an evocative dreamscape by the cream of Greek musicians invited to participate in the Xáos project. The opening “Pontos Blues” is not the rembetika one might expect; instead, it is a dirty, dangerous crawl, Kalaitzoglou's bass loping while Pontic lyra and slide guitar re-imagine the wild Western world. The percussion, by Vasilis Sarikis, clacks menacingly, and high marks have to be given to the percussion throughout Chaos.

On “Processional,” the Xáos project puts us in the midst of an eerie journey, perhaps to some oracle or sacrifice, pipes skirling and drums thundering. There is heat and dread on this track. “Antigone in Syntagma Square” (Syntagma Square is the central square within Athens) integrates the modern and traditional; who is the contemporary Antigone, here chased by the thunderous drums of the past, surrounding and overtaking her? For now, it is us, living through the archetypes, lending ears to these Orphic mysteries.

"Processional" (excerpt)

"Antigone in Syntagma Square" (excerpt)

Xáos does have a political goal, which is to draw attention to the arts in Greece that cannot be suppressed despite the experience of austerity. The band and project serve to illuminate the ageless human spirit of the Mediterranean and the Balkans in their dark night of the soul. And so the album begins with the sound of the ocean, because it has to give form to dreams. - Lee Blackstone

Find the band on Facebook

Looking for More Information?


return to rootsworld

© 2015 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.


cd cover

RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and get our weekly e-newsletter.