Xixxo — Down the World
(Halodjinn BDXOC1, 1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01
This five-piece from Massachusetts might be familiar to some who saw them open for Gong on their recent swing through New England. At the center of their sound are the soulful vocals of Lizzette Xixxo (pronounced zik'zoh), who brings an intense warmth and unique character to the band's multifaceted sound, sounding more than a hint like The Motels' Martha Davis. Musically, influences seem to be coming in from all quarters, a little neo-prog, a bit of Crimson, hints of Rush, neo-psych, even Zappa touches surface on occasion, as well as bits of mainstream pop and rock. At times the mix is served up in a swirling near-psychedelic maelstrom of effects, at others they dwell in the more conventional prog territory of ever-shifting time and key changes, yet Lizzette's voice adds a certain level of accessibility to even the most complex of their tunes ("Drown" for example), masking an underlying layer of twisted and convoluted rhythms. Because of this, their music tends to deliver on a number of levels, dependent on what the listener is looking for. Keyboards and Guitars alternate power and passion, support and drive, ambience and disconnection, while the rhythm section of Ed Lanouette (bass) and Yuri Zbitnoff (drums) keep the compositional framework in a constant state of forward motion. Of special note is the twenty-five minute five-part suite titled "Aliens," that shows Xixxo at their most spacy and ambient, as well as at their most hard edged and intense, and all points between. This is a difficult album to categorize, stylistically it's all over the spectrum, yet in every case the band's compositional approach is highly original and the arrangements, playing, and singing are equally spirited. One that I can definitely recommended.
Related artist(s): Xixxo
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