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|Origin||Hamburg, West Germany|
|Associated acts||This Mortal Coil|
Xmal Deutschland (pronounced: /ɪksmal ˈdɔʏtʃlant/), often written as X-Mal Deutschland, was a musical group from Hamburg, West Germany, which existed from 1980 to 1990. Founded in 1980 with a completely female line-up, they became chart hit makers both within, and outside, their native country. The lead singer of the band was vocalist Anja Huwe. Xmal Deutschland's last album was released in 1989.
Xmal Deutschland was formed in 1980 by Anja Huwe (vocals), Manuela Rickers (guitar), Fiona Sangster (keyboards), Rita Simonsen (bass guitar) and Caro May (drums) in Hamburg, Germany. Their first single, "Schwarze Welt", was released a year later on Alfred Hilsberg’s ZickZack label. The band also contributed to the label compilation Lieber Zuviel Als Zuwenig (ZZ 45). Around this time Rita Simonsen was replaced by Wolfgang Ellerbrock.
In 1982, the band released the goth classic "Incubus Succubus". Drummer Caro May left the band and formed a new band, and the vacant drummer position was filled by Manuela Zwingmann the same year. While German audiences were less than receptive at first, a United Kingdom tour opening for the Cocteau Twins resulted in a deal with independent label 4AD. Their debut album, Fetisch and the singles "Qual" and "Incubus Succubus II" were released in 1983, all three making the UK Indie Charts, even though the band wrote and performed in German.
Manuela Zwingmann left the band after one year, being replaced by Peter Bellendir. This lineup, Huwe/Rickers/Sangster/Ellerbrock/Bellendir was the longest lasting. The single "Reigen" and the album Tocsin were released in 1984, followed by a world tour in 1985. Tocsin reached number 86 in the UK Albums Chart.
The Sequenz EP was essentially a remake of a John Peel session, which had been originally recorded on 30 April 1985, and broadcast on 13 May 1985. The EP contained the tracks "Jahr Um Jahr II", "Autumn" (the band’s first song with English lyrics, apart from brief snatches of English that appeared in "Qual", "Young Man" and "Tag für Tag") and "Polarlicht" but omitted "Der Wind", which was played at the Peel sessions.
"Matador", produced by Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers, was released in 1986. Xmal Deutschland also opened for The Stranglers at a concert in Wembley Arena, London, as well as supporting the Stranglers on their entire UK tour. Their follow-up album, Viva was recorded in Hamburg and was released in 1987 through Phonogram, followed by the single "Sickle Moon". Viva contains a large number of English lyrics, including a poem by Emily Dickinson. It was during this time that the band were interviewed by Jack Londoner for the fanzine House of Dolls.
After the release of Viva, Manuela Rickers, Fiona Sangster and Peter Bellendir left the group. Anja Huwe and Wolfgang Ellerbrock continued to work with Frank Z (of Abwärts) on guitar. Producer Henry Staroste played keyboards and studio drummer Curt Cress completed the line-up that recorded the 1989 LP Devils, and the singles "Dreamhouse" and "I'll Be Near You". This also proved to be the last release of Xmal Deutschland, showing a change of direction towards mainstream pop.
The group made a few live appearances in 1990 before eventually disbanding later that same year.
Singles and EPs
- 1981: "Schwarze Welt" (ZickZack)
- 1982: "Incubus Succubus" (ZickZack)
- 1983: "Qual" (4AD)
- 1983: "Incubus Succubus II" (4AD)
- 1985: Sequenz (Red Rhino)
- 1986: The Peel Sessions (30.04.85) (Strange Fruit)
- 1986: "Matador" (Xile)
- 1987: "Sickle Moon" (Xile)
- 1989: "Dreamhouse" (Metronome)
- 1989: "I'll Be Near You" (Metronome)
- Nancy Kilpatrick, The Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined, New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2004, chapter 5, "Music of the Macabre," p. 84.
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- "The Show Must Go On". Snowpiercer (TV series). Season 2. Episode 9. 2021-03-29. 41 minutes in.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 612. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.