Clan of Xymox - Peel Sessions [DE-280]
Label: Dark Entries
Dark Entries reunites with longtime idols Xymox, also known as Clan of Xymox, to reissue their Peel Sessions. Xymox was founded in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1983 by Ronny Moorings and Anka Wolbert, who were joined shortly by Frank Weyzig and Pieter Nooten. Melding the synthesizer-driven experiments of post-punk and New Wave with the doom-laden atmospherics of the burgeoning goth rock scene, Xymox were one of the key progenitors of dark wave. The success of their 1983 debut EP, Subsequent Pleasures (reissued by Dark Entries in 2014) paved the way for a string of epochal releases on 4AD, where they honed their lush, despairing sound. Following their 1985 debut LP, Clan of Xymox, DJ and tastemaker John Peel invited them to BBC studios to record for his Radio 1 show. These recordings were released in 2001 via the Strange Fruit label on CD and are now available here for the first time on vinyl and digital formats.
Side A of Peel Sessions was recorded on June 4, 1985 at Maida Vale 5. Ronny and Anka recount facing anxiety and technical difficulties that day, with their complicated MIDI routing and a necessary plug conversion eating into their scant studio time. But their craft shines on these recordings, unmarred by the stressful circumstances. A reverb-drenched rendition of “Stranger”, the brooding hit single from Clan of Xymox, opens the record. “Muscoviet Mosquito”, a cult number from Subsequent Pleasure, follows. It is reworked here in a more robust fashion, similar to the version that would appear on the 1987 Lonely is an Eyesore compilation. Anka’s vocals take center stage on side closer “Seventh Time”, allegedly the song that charmed John Peel. Side B was recorded during a second Peel session on November 3, 1985, and illustrates the band’s continued development with three tracks that would appear on their 1986 album Medusa. “After the Call” was written and sung by Pieter Nooten, and has subtle echoes of Morricone amidst its proto-shoegaze drone. “Agonised by Love” and “Mesmerize”, which would later be retitled “Medusa”, both point towards the smoother, softer anguish that would characterize their sophomore LP.
All songs were remastered by George Horn at Fantasy studios. The sleeve, by Eloise Leigh, evokes classic Vaughn Oliver designs for 4AD, and features a photograph of the band mid-performance. Also included is a 2-sided insert with archival photos and notes from both Ronny and Anka on their experiences recording at the BBC studio.