Fly to the flame of Xavier Rudd#039;s White Moth

by Beacon Staff • January 30, 2008

He's been declared the Dave Matthews of Australia and the Jack Johnson of Canada by San Diego City Beat. The Advocate found his show "spectacular" and called "the Xavier experience" something that is unforgettable. One thing is certain: Xavier Rudd is taking the world by storm and doing his part for the environment while he's at it.

As a kid, this one-man band learned to play clarinet, saxophone and Yidaki, according to his official Web site. The Yidaki, also referred to as the didgeridoo, is a 50,000-year-old wooden trumpet of the Aborigines, the indigenous people of Australia-where Rudd was born and raised.

He has expanded his instrumental talent and now plays guitars, Weissenborn slide guitars, stomp boxes, djembes (a type of drum), harmonica and several different percussion instruments. At his shows, he often plays guitar, didgeridoo and various percussion parts simultaneously. He sets up his instruments so they are actually surrounding him as he sings from behind a stand holding three Yidakis in different keys. The Yidakis are what lend the low, calming vibration, almost a buzzing, that is heard in the undertone of each song.

For inspiration on his newest CD, White Moth, Rudd relied heavily on a trip he took around the globe over the past seven years.

"I think the record is just a reflection of my journey and my journey is amazing," he wrote on his Web site. "It's a reflection of a connection with powerful people around the world-powerful spirits-but also connections with the energy that people bring to my show." His world expedition, along with his eco-conscious mindset are also reflected in each song on the disc.

In the first track, "Better People," an eerie, ethereal beginning leads into a funky, guitar-driven tribute to environmental activists. Folksie, and extremely earthy, it is only appropriate that this song should discuss, "the better people with more good to do."

Rudd switches it up with the mellow and tropical sounds of Jamaica in the second track, "Twist." A lazy tempo and steady, slow, reggae beat makes it impossible not to surrender to his lyrics "Sway to the music; let the spirit choose you, 'cause everybody's feeling okay."

He lives up to the titles that City Beat gave him with two acoustic pieces called "Amni Kookoo" and "Set It Up." In "Amni Kookoo," Rudd speaks from the view of a few different people, including a woman who's mourning the loss of her son who was taken away by "the bottle." It meditates on what we, as individuals, have become-cold and cut off. "Set It Up" is another somber piece that expresses the idea that anything we do affects the people around us and that we are all connected in one way or another.

Rudd not only uses his folk background and surfer attitude for this disc, but also his time studying the Aborigines. In fact, he features the Aboriginal musical group, Yothu Yindi, on several of the tracks. On "Footprint," "Land Rights" and "Message Stick," chanting dominates much of each song. "Message Stick," a song Rudd explains is for the Aborigines who have been "denied a voice in the white settlements in Australia," has no English spoken at all. It is simply a mantra repeated throughout the song, tribal music and rainforest sounds mixed with Rudd's own musical stylings.

For his third U.S. release, his fourth album, Rudd wanted to bridge the gap between studio work and live shows. He recorded most of the album in the woods of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast at Gggarth Richardson's studio, The Farm. There he set up his various instruments in different rooms to capture the "woody tones" and mix them with the electric tracks. Rudd also aimed to "capture the bigness of his live sound" by plugging his electric instruments into a P.A. system and mic-ing it.

All of these different techniques and experiments coupled with the music itself and the messages expressed in it make White Moth an admirable piece of work.

From folk, to reggae, to tribal chants, Rudd has outdone himself in creating a superb collection of diverse world sounds. Rudd's calm attitude is encouraging and uplifting in a time of deranged pop artists and egotistical rock stars. To say the least, he is definitely a breath of fresh air on the music scene.