Clan of Xymox – “Medusa” (1986)

For most of my life I haven’t been a “label guy”.  I didn’t specialize in certain labels and with one notable exception (Sub Pop) I probably couldn’t have named any indie labels either.  But since I got back into vinyl that changed with my discovery of micro-labels like FALK and Lady Boy Records to some of the more interesting labels from back in the day, like On-U and, most recently 4AD.  I knew they released a Gusgus album a few decades back, but it wasn’t until my buddy Brendan recommended the book about the label, Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD, that I became fascinated with their aesthetic.  Since them I’ve been on the lookout for any 4AD stuff from the 1980s and 90s, and Clan of Xymox’s Medusa is the latest discovery.


Compared to more contemporary dark gothiness, Medusa is a child of its age (1980s) and is limited by the technology available at the time.  This actually has the effect of being shoegaze-y at its core, the kind of the thing the moody teen in a John Hughes movie would be listening to during her second most importance scene.  The songs they use to make her seem both mysterious and more than a little dangerous.  Is post-post-punk a thing?  Brooding but with a pop sensibility.  Black lights and velvet curtains.  Wax-covered candlesticks with just the wick of the last burnt offering remaining.  Synthesizers.  Vocals that are not so much anguished as ambivalent, resigned to a fate of seeking beauty in the dark places like some kind of romantic vampire in the plush blackness of night.

So what I’m trying to say is, it’s pretty good.