Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clan of Xymox : "Matters of Mind Body & Soul"

This is the 15th album by the dutch band, who were once pioneers of goth in 1981. Sure plenty of other bands we commonly think of as goth, were already around by that point..the Cure, Siouxsie...but it could be argued their sound has not only stood the test of time , but most goth albums that have carried  strong electronic overtones since the 90's certainly  are following the boot prints Clan of Xymox left behind. On their new album they prove by staying the same the cyclical nature of music will catch up to them.

I can do without the opening intro number that sounds like the Dr. Who theme song remixed for a Halloween special. "She's Falling in Love" is a strong song, the crisp modern production vs the 80's synth feel provide a perfect canvas for Ronny Mooring's vocals. His voice hasn't aged a day, not that he throws it around with the gusto of Peter Murphy, but it works perfectly for what he does. His lower register is explored on " Climate Changed" which is a cold brooding dark wave number, that I warmed up to like the polar caps eluded to in the title.

The album is littered with instrumental interludes, but when they get down to actually writing songs it's clear the majick is still there. Mooring's voice excels at every turn, the more morose "I Close My Eyes' shows how he has influenced every stereotype of goth singing.His voice at times touches on notes up top that remind me a little of the Pet Shop Boys. The guitar sounds on this album play second fiddle in the mix to the synths, but are excellently crafted as well, this album continues to surprise me the more it progresses.

"Hand in Glove" is not the Smiths song, it is instead a very Gary Numan like piece of angular dark-wave.Cold, robotic and futuristic in the way A Clock Work Orange is.Upon initial listens it doesn't strike me the same way the first three songs did. It is not a bad song by any means these guys just raised the bar high for themselves early on so that's what I want maintained. The synths take on a more edm like resonance on "Go Your Own Way" which find them on more of a Pet Shop Boys path, so reporting directly to the dance floor not collecting 200 dollars.

The opening synth melody to "Loves on Diet" reminds me of Tears For Fears, but the song darkens considerably once it kicks in. Mooring balances out the use of his lower register with his more mournful mid range. Despite the strum of acoustic guitar spattered about they move into a more pop inflected side of dark wave on"I'll Let You Go". Nothing is wrong with it, its just a little more upbeat than what I think makes for the albums best vibes, but that's me not Mooring.

The elegance of drama that marks goth flows freely on "Months Ago" whihc still always the band to lean into the more synth pop side that shows through on the second half of this album. The collision of tender ether to the guitars and the increased desperation in Mooring's yearning, creates a a sonic collision not unlike if  My Dying  Bride  mixed with the Cure. Despite the album's in your face synth heavy mix, the guitar tone of "Kiss and Tell' provides a more rock like pulse. This was needed to darken things up.

They fake us out once again as "Chinese Whispers " is not a cover of the Cure song, but an ambient outro pieces, that's mainly sound effects and samples. I'll go ahead and give this album a 9 for now, some of the poppier synth heavy moments won't get as much play from me but they have exceeded my expectations and make me want to delve back into their earlier work again.

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