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CLAN OF XYMOX (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Clan of Xymox (4AD/Relativity) 1985
Medusa (4AD) 1987
XYMOX
Twist of Shadows (Wing/PolyGram) 1989
Phoenix (Wing/Mercury) 1991

Despite competent musicianship and complexity, this Dutch quartet's gothic dance gloom is more imitative than distinctive. On The Clan of Xymox, the right components are present but the record is disappointingly short on personality. Despite three alternating vocalists (deeply anguished to breathlessly fragile), jutting electric and acoustic guitars, sinewy bass and a wealth of synths, Clan of Xymox can't seem to make anything extraordinary happen, and only three songs approach memorability. What would have made a commendable EP flounders as an album.

Medusa wallows even deeper in bland Eurodisco gloom; "Michelle," a bouncy psychedelic pop tune, offers the only relief. Obviously out of place on this depressing LP, that song would serve as an excellent starting point for Xymox's future endeavors.

"Evelyn," which opens Twist of Shadows, lifts the murk and clattering percussion from "Michelle" to reveal an attractive mixture of piano, electronics and stilted vocals. Elsewhere, the group works to locate a functional commercial form, keeping rhythms, melodies and arrangements accessibly simple and allowing Tony Visconti to score strings for two songs. As easily endurable as this album is, Xymox — here revealed as just another lightweight electronic dance band of the post-romantic era — still lacks any compelling personality.

[Altricia Gethers/Ira Robbins]