|Clan of Xymox|
The history of Clan of Xymox goes all the way back to 1984 in Amsterdam when Ronny Moorings formed this group and joined the famous ranks of the 4AD label that besides this excellent group, brought us the likes of The Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, it was at this time that they released their self-titled debut album. After releasing their hugely popular self-titled album and later Medusa, they then changed labels and their name to become Xymox for a short period of time. Under this new label and name they released several albums, their first being probably their most popular in the pop-culture with Twist of Shadows. Many tracks from this album received a lot of club and radio play which launched this group from their humble goth beginnings into the electro-pop spotlight around the world.
In 1997 they changed their name back to the original, and along with that change seemed to be a return to their original style featuring more of a gothic tone. Hidden Faces didn't really hit the spotlight anywhere around the world except for a few cult followers, but in 1999 with the release of Creatures they were launched back into the electro-goth spotlight. They have since proven again and again that they are here to stay and still going strong with each release. After their release Farewell we hoped that it didn't mean farewell to their great music, in fact they have kept it going strong and in late 2004 they released their "Best of" album featuring some of the greatest works from their history as Clan of Xymox. Not too long following this historic release in their career, 2006 presented us with the release of their album Breaking Point, 2009 their incredible work In Love We Trust and just two years later Darkest Hour as the latest in their long history. Like their other recent works the goth undertone is strong mixed with electronics and a mixture of emotional ballads and club-friendly beats.
This band proves over and over again that they have what it takes to go down in history as one that has helped to shape and maintain the underground music scene. Regular listeners and visitors here should be very familiar with this band's works from their early days to the most recent releases. This band is one of the most frequently and most-often listened to band on Gothic Paradise, be sure to have a listen for yourself.
Darkest Hour - Review
Some groups just never seem to slow down no matter how long they've been going and this is definitely one of them. It seems not too long ago we were listening to "Emily" for the first time and now we have this latest album with another 10 tracks of dark electro-goth sounds, with a definite emphasis on the electro side for this one while still remaining dark, heavy and brooding. The packaging doesn't seem to matter much anymore in the digital age, but it does come with a 5 page booklet featuring the lyrics to the different tracks.
The album kicks off with an excellent piece, a definite favorite from this disc in the form of "My Reality". The brooding, pulsating heavy electronics dominate this and most of the album while the dance-friendly beat keep the pieces moving along nicely and a few selections should be club hits across the globe. "Delete" is another good selection along these lines with all the heavy, deeply emotional drama-filled lyrics and solid vocals that we've come to so easily recognize from Ronny Moorings. This piece does re-emphasize some of the various cliche elements that come out from time to time in the lyrics as "bleep, bleep, bleep" or in other tracks talking about "the birds and the bees" and other seemingly silly phrases. It's something we've grown used to in past works, so it doesn't stand out too much as an annoyance and just becomes part of the work.
There are a number of definite favorites from this album that I think are worth highlighting including the two previously mentioned pieces. As the album moves along we come to an even darker sound on "Dream of Fools" with a somewhat mid-tempo, brooding piece with more of a goth flavor bringing out some classic guitar riffs to accent the heavy electronics. Later on, another dance-friendly piece really captured my attention in the form of "She Did Not Answer". This piece has a dark electro-pop foundation with the driving beats and layers of electronic loops to form the backdrop to Ronny's angst-filled vocals for a definite gem like many classic electro-based gothic rock tracks of the past. This leaves us with a couple more gems as the album wraps up with "Tears Ago" and "Wake Up My Darling". Both are great examples of solid gothic rock mixed with moving undulating layers of synths and moving dance beats.
Like pretty much all of their previous albums, this is definitely easily recognized as Clan of Xymox, everything from Ronny's vocals, their mix of gothic rock and layered electronic soundscapes and even their lyrics are recognizable for the most part. It's great to have a band that survives nearly 30 years and knows their style, their roots and their fans. This album is another great addition to this long-lasting tradition of excellent music.
In Love We Trust - Review
The band has had a little break since their last powerful album and they're back with another excellent single and this latest album. The album is packaged nicely with a 10 page booklet featuring pictures of current band members, some nice artwork and lyrics for each of the tracks. The ten excellent pieces form the music on this disc that will prove to be another classic in a long line of great works from this band.
As with previous works, the first track "Emily" is also the previously released single which featured two alternate remixes as well as an excellent b-side track titled "Chemistry". With four tracks, and the remixes it's a nice collector's or DJ item to add to any collection. Continuing with Ronny's long running love affairs with various women over the years (Evelyn, Louise, Michelle and so on), we now get the latest with "Emily". This is an excellent track sporting a solid bassline and moving beat providing the underlying foundation for Ronny's deep vocals and moody lyrics. These deep emotions run strong throughout the rest of the album from one piece to the next. The trademark heavy bass, mixture of electronics and that trademark guitar riff appear solidly on most pieces and make each one easily recognizable as Clan of Xymox, yet each having it's own style and twist, keeping the album and overall solid collection from this band interesting.
Besides the very solid opening piece, there are a few tracks that stand out slightly from the rest as favorites, even though every selection is a true masterpiece and a great addition for this band. "Judas" appears with that very dark gothic sound that is pronounced by the solid bass taking the lead for the song while synths and other instruments provide the solid backdrop, all there to buoy up the dark vocals. I think it's fitting that the title track also stand out as a favorite as it hearkens back to the solid roots of their gothic rock sound. This one has a solid rock foundation, plenty of guitar and the percussion comes out a bit more with that rock style. After a few more pieces we come to a true pleasure in the form of "Home Sweet Home". This piece just jumped out at me on this album as it slowly builds up from a soft intro into a stellar new wave piece that will have long-time fans swooning with it's classic styles. The lyrics and vocals are captivating and touching and the music, again with the strong bass, all come together for a perfect mix for another true classic from this group.
As with other albums the range of music is diverse and shoudl really reach a large audience. We're still presented with a nice ballad in the form of "Sea of Doubt" and the last couple of pieces on the album are pure, hard-hitting electro-pop tracks that the fans of their synthpop days will enjoy. Overall it's another stellar Clan of Xymox album, need anymore be said?
Breaking Point - Review
Two years after the release of their exceptional Best Of release, we're now presented with the latest great work from this renowned band in the form of Breaking Point. It's hard to imagine how a band with such an extensive history can continue to "mature" their sound, but it seems they manage to do so in subtle ways that only long-time fans will really be able to notice. Overall they still capitalize on the same solid elements they've used over all of these years. Ronny Moorings uses his deep, angst-ridden vocals as a foundation and anchor for the music that has it's own groundwork laid down through solid synths and various guitar layers.
To begin the album is the precursor single "Weak in my Knees" sporting the most recognizable elements from this band in their club-friendly, goth-rock sound. This track was released as a single several weeks ago including some nice remixes of this track along with remixes of their classic track "Michelle" and the appearance of "Calling You Out", also available on this album. It's with good reason that this piece was chosen as the single from this disc with it's powerful, electronics-based foundation. This is followed by two more danceable tracks in the form of "Calling You Out" and "She's Dangerous". These moving tracks feature everything from distorted guitar, various synth and electronic loops, but always with a solid beat, a deep steady flowing sound and Ronny's excellent vocals.
At this point we're dragged down into the drowning depths of the deep emotional ballads that always manage to appear on each release from this band in the form of "Eternally". The lyrics follow suit with previous works, providing a profound look into the inner depths of the artists conscious. Along with the look into the meaningful lyrics these tracks provide, they also provide a break from the driving and sometimes harsher tracks for an excellent variety. This tempo remains through "We Never Learn" with another beautiful ballad that has quickly become another favorite of mine.
After this short break we dive right back into the upbeat, dynamic sounds of "Be My Friend". The lyrics are interesting on this piece and by the title you wouldn't think this would be another driving club track. As it is, this selection would get my vote as the single for the album with a mix of "O Fortuna" choir samples accenting the solid synths and deep basslines that provide the musical backdrop. While the intensity of the album remains extremely strong, the tempo starts to slow with "Cynara" and marks the decline from the clymax of the previous track. Slowly you think the album begins to wind down with this piece and the instrumental ambient piece "Pandora's Box" featuring some nice samples and dreamy soundscapes. But once again at the conclusion of this piece we're launched back into the fray with the last two pieces forming the finale of the album with a powerful exit. "Under the Wire" sports some of the most electronic elements in one track with minimal guitar, but then "What's Going On" goes all out with the electronics and synths without even a detectible hint of the guitar driven goth sounds.
With that the album concludes and the listener can honestly say that this is another memorable album that won't soon be forgotten. It stands out in many ways against today's music, delving back into the gothic rock foundation that so many fans grew up listening to, while it has electronics, it varies from the onslaught of synthpop and EBM bands that have flooded the scene lately with each band sound exactly like every other band, and at the same time the artists haven't jumped onto the indie / emo rock bandwagon like so many others have, trying to make it into the teen-pop scene. They stay true to themselves and true to their fans while they still provide new and excellent music.
The Best Of Clan of Xymox - Review
When you have a history that spans 20 years and includes more than 30 releases (including CD singles and remix albums) under their name as Clan of Xymox and as Xymox, it seems perfectly appropriate to release this "Best Of" album. Their history and the music provided throughout that history is very impressive. This album brings all of that out in the form of 14 strong selections and proves to the world the wonderful talents this group has portrayed over the years. From the very beginning their music has been stunning and they have only built on that one album after another.
I have to say that when I receive a CD like this and have it in my hands and CD player, it is one of the easiest reviews I have to do. As I look back over the years and pick up each album and flip through it or listen to it in it's entirety, each of these tracks bring back so many memories and thoughts about when I picked up each one over the years. There is no doubt that these are some of the best songs released by this group, and some of the best released in the related electro-goth genres.
The album contains the original versions of some of the later recordings, but the special treat for long-time fans who probably already have all of this material is the new recordings or alternate mixes. Of the fourteen tracks, half of them are either alternate mixes or new recordings. The songs from the earlier albums have been newly recorded including the very popular "Louise", "Back Door", "A Day", "Muscoviet Mosquito" and "Stranger". These are extremely well done as the moving beats and combination of guitars, solid synth-lines and Ronny's emotional and solid vocals combine for masterpiece after masterpiece. The alternate mixes include "I Want You Now" and "Into Extremes", two of the latest popular tracks from their later works.
The order on the album provides a nice variety by mixing them up so their not really done in chronological order. The popular bomastic track "There's No Tomorrow" kicks it off and we go from one club hit to another as we go from "Jasmine and Rose", the huge hit that brought them back into the spotlight of the goth scene after a few years and then to "I Want You Now". We jump back several years for "A Day" and the dreamy classic Clan of Xymox track "Louise". It's not all about driving club tracks with their history and thus the appearance of the popular single "Consolation" with it's downtempo style is appropriate.
This is how it all shapes up and this ends up being a great treat for new and old fans alike. Having these great tracks in one spot for me doesn't mean I'll stop listening to the individual album, but as a DJ makes it easy to have them in one spot. A great addition to any collection. Don't hesitate to pick it up!
Farewell - Review
Presenting another chapter in great music from Ronny Moorings and company. This latest work continues on the legacy of a great combination in styles of Gothic and Synthpop music. The two years since the last release have been well spent putting together another set of great tracks in the form of this latest angst-ridden album.
The first and title track speaks volumes to the entire mood, emotion, message and style of this stellar work. As the words "Farewell affectionate brothers, you won't see me again" resonate through the moody, yet driving music, the stage is set for a masterpiece. The first trio of songs (and others) are driving, hailing back to the earlier years of more synthpop-oriented music, yet combining the trademark guitars and musical styles we've grown to love. The angst is there as usual with titles like "Cold Damp Day" and "There's No Tomorrow", there's no doubt that this is pure Clan of Xymox sound. These three club-friendly tracks that build up the intro to this album are also probably my preferred tracks for their overall solid sound and quality. The experience of this group really shines through in these works.
After this driving intro the mood is broken down into a slow and oppressive style with the aptly named "Dark Mood". This drifts away through ambient soundscapes that are captivating and mesmerizing as they hold the listener entranced for the next moving track "One More Time". The beautiful mid-tempo sound comes out in this ballad that ebbs through stylish guitars and synth strings. Building up slightly more "It's Not Enough" picks up the pace and leaves us with the modern synthpop sound of "Courageous", one of the more electronic oriented tracks on this album.
The remainder of the album serves as a real tribute to great music and song writing. "Into Extremes" is even more intense than the previous tracks, but builds up the climax that drifts off for the excellent ballad "Losing My Head". This beautiful slow piece is a timeless icon to the lasting dynamic style from this excellent group. And finally, we're left with "Skindeep", the final masterpiece on this album. This track is presented as another slow track that pulses through the senses with the permeating synth loops and slow rhythms that are accented at times with distortion or mellow vocals that all gradually drift off into nothing.
Overall an excellent work bringing all of the previous styles that Clan of Xymox has presented us with and melting them together into the excellent Electro Goth mix. With bombastic approaches at times to accent the angst-filled vocals or club-friendly music, the dynamics are perfectly presented to leave the listener with never a boring moment. As one of my favorite releases this year to date, I highly recommend it to old and new fans alike.