Clan of Xymox

The Best of Clan of Xymox

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Ronny Moorings is the main man behind Clan of Xymox, a synth/goth band that was lucky enough to be on the 4AD label during its heyday. After that he changed the name to just Xymox, had a semi-hit with "Phoenix of My Heart," and disappeared into the goth underworld. If you haven't kept up, it has been comfortable for Moorings and the band in their goths-only world. They've put effort into their recordings and offered up some thrilling moments. If these moments were displayed next to the fantastic 4AD years, The Best of Clan of Xymox would be a perfect primer. But Moorings explains in the liner notes about how he wanted to re-record the 4AD years to match the Clan of Xymox of the times rather than include the dreamy originals. Plus you don't get the minor hit "Phoenix," because that was released during the band's identity crisis, when it was just called Xymox. Moorings wants this to be a Clan of Xymox-only collection, but a skeptic would say he just couldn't pony up the dough to "Phoenix"'s big corporate owner, Polygram, and that the band's glory days on 4AD probably cost a pretty penny to license. The good news is the re-recordings are punchy and enthusiastic performances that won't screw up the band's legacy. They're good -- "A Day" and "Stranger" being very good -- but Best Of's big allure is its nearly perfect choices of latter-day highlights. The epic "There's No Tomorrow" is a jaw-dropping number from the little band that could, and as stunning as anything from the early days. "Innocent" sounds like something from David Bowie's Outside, although with more punch and more teeth-baring. The dark, stern stance Moorings took in later years might be too dramatic and too close to the Sisters of Mercy for some, but for every over the top moment there's a cool quirk that surprises. The standard heavy synthetic thwacks are mucked up with shards of noise, and the proggy '70s electronics that introduce some songs are nice touches that show the ideas are still fresh. Plus, if the unexpectedly cool goth rocker "I Want You Now" was done by any young and hip indie band, it would be huge. The real history of Clan of Xymox is much richer than the re-recordings on their Best Of exhibit, but that doesn't keep the collection from being a fantastic listen for fans.

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