What this, the 15th album by Dutch masters of darkwave, Clan Of Xymox, reveals is that they have evolved in several directions, through several turnovers of members since their 1985 debut and during the creation of some 14 studio albums plus countless singles and EPs. Here, they have come up with a 12-track CD that is a virtual witches’ brew of goth, synthpop and ethereal.
It opens with a seven-minute, brooding, all-instrumental piece, its cadence set by syncopated kettledrums, that might well serve as the soundtrack of a European horror flick, reminding us of the Clan’s roots at 4AD records.
Included are several poppy, dark, Cure-like songs. Another mainly instrumental piece features synthesizer arpeggios and hissing, menacing, whispered—rather than sung—voices.
The third track, “The Climate Changed,” has an ominous prelude that transforms into a morose, lumbering narrative that, surprisingly, doesn’t address global warming, but rather bemoans that “…the summer’s lost…the spring is gone…it’s so cold.” It conjures thoughts of a final dwindling of the radiant energy of the sun or some other morbid cataclysm.
Several songs are great dance numbers, having creative electronica and plaintive vocals, one with a Sisters of Mercy-like vibe. Then, too, there are more than a handful of songs that spotlight beautiful melodies and Ronny Moorings’ deliciously depressing voice qualities.
This seductively moody album and each of its diverse elements grows relentlessly on the listener. It could well serve as a 21st century landmark of alternative music. Goth, far from stale, enjoys an impassioned resurgence in this highly accomplished expansion of the genre by a veteran group with roots in the ‘80s.