Boomkat Product Review:
Sacred Bones hail the spiky early NDW/post-punk/goth rock of Hamburg’s Xmal Deutschland, galvanised with femme punk thrust on formative gems for Sounds journo, Alfred Hilsberg’s Zickzack label - RIYL Bauhaus, The Slits, Siouxsie
‘Early Singles (1981-1982)’ packs a ratty slap with eight songs sifted from the first two singles by Caro May, Rita Simon, Manuela Rickers, Fiona Sangster and Anja Huwe, aka Xmal Deutschland. All three cuts from ’Schwarze Welt’ (1981) and the trio off ‘Incubus Succubus’ (1982), are augmented by contemporaneous bonus joints in the bony jerk of ‘Kälbermarsch’ and a revved-up live zinger ‘Allein’ reminding of early Joy Division and Siouxsie & The Banshees, to provide a great way in to one of Germany’s most important early punk groups. That said, Xmal Deutschland would initially fall by the wayside in their native country - perhaps too rough and yowly for those who favoured the cleaner cut of NDW acts and synth-pop - but they would soon find their audience in the UK, where, in 1982, they performed in support of Cocteau Twins, resulting a record deal for 4AD and would play regularly until disbanding in 1990.
Like much stuff from Hamburg, Xmal Deutschland’s music has an understandable clinamen toward, or affiliation with, UK music - the area was then in West Germany, under British occupation. Although singing entirely in her mother tongue, Anja Huwe is best compared with British vocalists with her catty holler at best on their breakthru bullet ‘incubus Succubus’ over its needling guitars and a careening groove like a hurtling hearse late to the funeral, or again strapped to gunky synth and tumped drums at the square roots of DAF or CH-BB in ‘Schwarze Welt’. Throw in the spooked out ‘Die Wolken’, and stentorian urge of ‘Blut ist Liebe’ and you’ve got a full clip of post-punk/goth wave bullets.