An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Win a Clan Of Xymox Promo and Feel Loved

Clan of Xymox are a difficult band to figure out. They started with real genius, pushed their luck a bit too far following trends instead of exploring and experimenting with what they were doing, flopped in a huge way, then tried to pick up where their invention was last dropped but finding some of the talent was gone. Of Course Clan of Xymox themselves would never agree this is correct, except most fans would agree that this is the simple but accurate depiction.

Don’t get me wrong, the re-invented Clan of Xymox aren’t rubbish, but they do lack a certain flair that set them apart from their counterparts. The biggest issue is the fact that there seems to be way too much ego in the way to have any accurate or factual history simply laid out about the band.

The first album Subsequent Pleasures was a self released album that has a shroud of mystery over it from the beginning. As mentioned in earlier blogs, it is rumoured that Ronny Moorings, the singer of Clan of Xymox, didn’t like the quality so threw away most of the 500 copies made. Whether this has any truth is difficult to prove, but these rumours have helped the original version become very collectable, fetching a handsome price.

Once signed to 4AD their first Official album that was released called Clan of Xymox. Again some interesting confusion is raised because the band were calling themselves just Xymox, a Tag, I suppose you could call it, that Ronny Moorings had given himself (a bit like Jonny Halfhead...although someone gave me that, I didn’t invent it). The first album title was supposed to be Clan of Xymox by the band Xymox. But in the understandable confusion the Clan Of.. stuck.

The debut album is very much in the vein of New Order. Quite dark, quite dancey and electronic, with hints of industrial, or what was to become industrial music. Detail was its greater hallmark. Interesting shifts and lots of little samples and noises keep you interested and adds an atmosphere and realism to the music. This was something for me which defined a difference between Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre’s music. Tangerine Dream were session electronic musicians. They could bang out an album every six months. Their music had a handful of layers and was clever in its simplicity. But Jean-Michel Jarre’s albums took time in the production process of adding a very rich texture using many, many layers and tweaks which gave his music more depth and realism. Clan of Xymox has this depth and multi layers.

The next album took the same ideas from the first album and galvanised them. Medusa is a perfect album. The production is spot on and the mix balanced just right. The songs have interesting and unexpected twists. The lyrics are simple, but have an air of honesty that allows the user to relate and feel the mood without being patronised. The whole album feels shared and equal between the musicians, but it would seem that tensions were building, there were too many talents wrapped tightly into too small a space.

The next single was to be their last with 4AD before the band changed their name to what it was going to be originally “Xymox”. The single was Blind Hearts, which was released on 4AD and then also released on the label the band moved to, Wing Records. This song was to feature on the next album Twist Of Shadows. Twist Of Shadows is the Medusa album made more accessible. It’s a lot lighter and more pop orientated, which is where the inner band tensions were. The band had a good balance of experimentalism and a desire to be popular with Medusa, with Twist of Shadows the urge to be popular was starting to win out at the detriment of experimentation.

Twist of Shadows is probably the most accessible as an introduction to Clan Of Xymox. Because of its desire for popularity, it is a little dated with a typical ‘80’s sound.


The band went on towards the pull of dance music in the early nineties like bands were trying to do at the time, latching onto an emerging house and techno scenes. But this drive for success and trend contributed to their downfall and by the mid nineties, the talents within Clan Of Xymox (or Xymox as they were now called) where pulling so hard in several directions that the whole band split apart.

Eventually the singer, Ronny Moorings, was left alone in the band. He decided to start from scratch and return to the dark moody, industrial sound that had originally defined Clan Of Xymox. Although this has been a partial return to original form, you can tell a lot of the talent is no longer with Clan Of Xymox. I have only heard the first album of the resurrected Clan Of Xymox called Hidden Faces and then a couple of later singles and I wasn’t too impressed. But then my musical period of experimentation from the early nineties was swamped with wannabe Sisters Of Mercy bands that got so repetitive and predictable, so when I hear another band doing the repetitive and predictable and also sound like they are trying to mimic the Sisters of Mercy, I automatically switch off.

Maybe the more recent Clan Of Xymox offers more hope, I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll give them yet another go.

There is another interesting psychological twist to my tale and Clan Of Xymox that works against myself picking the band up again. In the early nineties, I loved the first three Clan Of Xymox albums. When going to alternative and goth nights several times a week I would proclaim how great they were with the DJ’s and event organisers constantly and even lend copies for them to listen to. But as always, it fell on deaf ears because they weren’t in vogue, and everyone wanted to listen and dance to the same predictable stuff. Now they have become the goth underground darlings, with everyone proclaiming how they loved this stuff years ago. Bollocks! So I can’t help but be annoyed and want to steer clear of this fickle trend and current opinion shite. That doesn’t help trying to keep and unbiased opinion either

So to commemorate this great band, and of course because of the fact that I am a dimwit and yet again I have in my possession two versions of this release...I am once again giving away a 4AD release. Well that’s not strictly true as this version isn’t on 4AD, but you can forgive me for that. The winner this time round will receive a copy of Xymox’s 12” single of Blind Hearts. This is the US Promo version on Wing Records that was the bridge between Clan Of Xymox and Xymox. An interesting piece of history.
I will even post it for free. Feel the love.....

Please don’t enter just to sell it...that’s not the point.


For a chance to win this lovely article, just friend me on Facebook and send me a message telling me you want it, because you just want it OK! One lucky winner will be chosen at random by picking the entrant that shouts the loudest

I’m Jonny Halfhead and you have been a wonderful audience