Sunday, November 4, 2018

Clan of Xymox "Days of Black" West Coast Tour: Oct 31 - Nov 14 | Claudio Simonetti's Goblin perform "Suspiria" Tour: Oct 28 - Nov 25

The month of November sees a set of influential underground bands on tour across the US, spanning the genres of theatrical progressive rock and gothic wave. Perfect musical accompaniment for the season, yet both of these bands are now in formations and touring as fragmented, disunited iterations of the groups they once were. Of the duo, Goblin are the farthest removed from their inception, being that the band was initially formed in 1972 and saw their successful period span the late 1970s to earliest 80s. Their status as one of the more peculiar of all the progressive rock bands of their decade, came with their rise to greater prominence within Giallo circles in the late 70s with a string of scores to Dario Argento's now classic "Profondo Rosso", "Tenebrae", and "Suspiria". The Italian progressive rock legends made a number of stateside appearances since their reactivation in 2005, and have intermittently toured in fragmented and recombinant lineups in the following decade. Of these iterations, the lineup containing three of the original members, excluding keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, were on tour throughout the fall of last year. The timing of which coincided with the discovery of a uncut print of "Suspiria", which was subsequently restored and screened in a repertory theatrical run. Returning to the United States this month, Simonetti leads a set of musicians from his Daemonia band as his possessively named Claudio Simonetti's Goblin. In the wake of Luca Guadagnino's contemporary remake of the Dario Argento classic, their touring performance of "Suspiria"'s score began at Baltimore's Days of Darkness festival, with west coast dates to follow, including Seattle's El Corazon.

Also returning in a second iteration, the seminal Dutch minimal synth wave group Xymox, which formed as a project of Ronny Moorings and Anka Wolbert in Nijmegen Netherlands in 1981, are back via an equally circuitous path of reformation and fragmentation. As a duo they produced a single self released mini-album, "Subsequent Pleasures" following a move to Amsterdam in 1983. Having secured a performance in Paris in the wake of the mini album's positive reception, the lineup enlisted keyboardist and vocalist Pieter Nooten, and second touring guitarist Frank Weyzig. In the following year, this central trio of Moorings, Wolbert and Nooten would become Clan of Xymox for their signing to Ivo Watts-Russell's influential British postpunk label, 4AD. After a chance meeting with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance at a concert in Nijmegen, the British duo brough Xymox on as their support for a tour of the United Kingdom. The resulting attention produced a commission for a demo by Watts-Russell, and subsequent signing to their shared label, which released Clan of Xymox eponymous album in 1985. Working from the demos, the label's inhouse production team of Watts-Russell and Turner looked to accentuate the unique topography of their sound, positioned between the gothic guitar pop of The Cure, and the synth-driven electronic dance wave of New Order. Refined by Watts-Russell, Jon Turner, and John Fryer's guidance at Blackwing Studios, the sui generis qualities of their sound can be heard across the eight tracks of "Clan of Xymox". Distinguished amidst the abundance of wave, postpunk and gothic at the time by it's complex meeting of acoustic, electric and electronic arrangements, naive sometimes broken English, and a stylistic assertion of the member's bohemian European origins. Their sound was unambiguous to the extent that Wolbert's "Seventh Time" was picked up by the greatest of the underground British radio tastemakers of the time, John Peel.

This led to the band recording two Peel Sessions at the BBC, and a greater focus of resources and time given by their parent label for the sophomore album, "Medusa". An elegant, haunting album of instrumental passages, propulsive synth wave songs, and gothic rock crescendos, "Medusa" would prove to be the apogee of the music Clan of Xymox would produce as a trio. On the following tours across Europe and a first in the United States, inner tensions as to the music's focus and Nooten and Wolbert's respective roles began to force its central trio in opposing directions. This culminated in Xymox leaving 4AD, following a signing to Polydor and the release of 1989's more expressly synthpop influenced "Twist of Shadows", which saw Wolbert and Nooten's contribution increasingly marginalized. From this point forward, Xymox and it's later reformatting as Clan of Xymox, would solely be the project of Ronny Moorings. He has since found new listeners in a second generation of gothic and post-wave audiences across Europe, and massive success at gothic culture events like Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival in his current home of Leipzig, Germany. Signing to domestic gothic label Metropolis, this second iteration of Clan of Xymox has made a number of returns to North America since their formation, with significantly greater frequency than the original trio. Making this year's tour following the release of their "Days of Black" album, an occasion for those who missed such opportunities three decades past.