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|But my destination
Will be easy to find
If only I could read
What's written in my mind
-- "If Only", Xmal
The seed of Xmal Deutschland originated in Hamburg, Germany, in 1980, where a five-girl line-up decided to defy the odds: Anja Huwe (vocals), Rita Simon (bass), Caro May (drums), Manuela Rickers (guitar), Fiona Sangster (keyboards). Soon after, Rita Simons was replaced by Wolfgang Ellerbrock, the first male presence in the group.
A couple of independently released singles in 1981 (Grossstadtindianer) and 1982 (Incubus Succubus) introduced Xmal to the British underground scene, and most importantly to the 4AD label. In 1982, Caro May left the band and was replaced by Manuela Zwingmann.
1983 saw Xmal's first full-length album release on 4AD: 'Fetish'. Manuela Zwingmann decided to call it quits, and was replaced by Peter Bellendir on their second album 'Tocsin' released in 1984. A few more singles followed in '85 on Xmal's own label "Xile". And a Peel Session EP comprising of songs recorded at the John Peel Show in 1985 was released later in '86.
The same line-up pulled together a third consistent record in 1987 'Viva'. But shortly after, three members left the band, leaving only Anja Huwe and Wolfgang Ellerbrock to record their fourth and last effort "Devils" ('89), their most commecially accessible album, but sadly, their weakest.
Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 7/01
"Masters of eerie, gothic music from Germany. Xmals songs typically stride along with beautiful bass driven melodies and slices of icy guitar, only to suddenly change direction for a chorus or ending half of a song, becoming the most chilling, surreal, and powerful music I've ever heard."
¾ 1983: Fetish
"Met with Unanimous critical acclaim form journalists and fans alike, it impressed with its freshness and exhilarated with its power. There was no confusion over the German delivery - Anja Huwe epitomized the voice as instrument. (...) the album reached no.3 in the independent charts behind the pulp pop of New Order and Aztec Camera. It stayed there. The seductive foreplay had begun."
¾ 1984: Tocsin
"X-Mal Deutschland were one of the only german bands that played a role during the early goth-years. This record is not as punky as Fetish, but has a more psychedelic sound. The Tocsin-CD is the only album by this band that is really easy to find, although I like Fetish more. If you're looking for typical positive/post-punk sound with female vocals, and already got everything by the Skeletal Family, check this band out!"
¼ 1986: Xmal Deutschland/Peel Sessions
"This is a collection of four of the most powerful songs Xmal have ever recorded. The unique guitar textures, the evil vocals and the hypnotic bass, all intertwine to make these songs unmistakably Xmal's. The only weakness on this album is the live-radio quality of the recording which is usually not as clear as studio albums."
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 7/01
"Now X-mal Deutschland are spinning crepuscular heads and muscular torsos, again and again, within and without. (...) Now X-mal Deutschland, as 1987 looms like luxury no less, hold forth and elegantly epic third album and have the nerve and ternerity to name it 'Viva', after one of my cats, after a Spanish exultation, after a Warhol superstar who didn't die, after something which rhymes with 'diva' and 'believer'. The closing track is 'Dogma 1'. Read it backwards and never wheep again. "
-- Melody Maker, 3/87
¾ 1989: Devils
"... ironicanily, DEVILS, the first album from Xmal Deutschland to feature English lyrics, was recorded mostly in German studios with a German producer. (...) Songs like "When Devils Come" and "Searchlight" both turn on beautifully melodic phrases; "You Broke My Heart", on the other hand, is a pulsing rock song stripped down to the bare essentials, whereas "I Should Have Known", featuring a start- lingly unexpected guitar solo, is both hypnotic and seductive - and then there are odd German references strewn amongst the otherwise English lyrics like confetti at a wedding!"
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