Xmal Deutschland Early Singles 1981–1982 LP

A collection of the earliest recordings from Hamburg’s goth paragons XMAL DEUTSCHLAND, and a much-needed history lesson for those only familiar with them as typically black-clad, hairsprayed creatures of the night. The first two XMAL DEUTSCHLAND singles came courtesy of the local Zickzack label, home to some of the most out-there, art-fucked experimental German sounds of the early ’80s, and they were perfectly situated there, with the band still basically learning how to play after forming in 1980 with no prior musical experience—these songs are unpolished and immediate in all of the best ways afforded by post-punk amateurism, with stilted beats, sharp but sparing guitar incisions, and wild shouts over insistent blurts of synth. “Schwarze Welt” pounds along with a monominded, cymbal-free fixation that borders on no wave until the unexpected disco beat breakdown kicks in, and the giddy rollercoaster rhythm of “Kälbermarsch” (their contribution to Zickzack’s Lieber Zuviel Als Zuwenig comp LP in 1981) is much closer to KLEENEX/LILIPUT than the stern, MALARIA!/SIOUXSIE nexus of later 4AD-backed XMAL records. The slow creep of goth is more pronounced on the second EP’s perennial batcave floor-filler “Incubus Succubus” (later cleaned up and reworked for their 1984 Tocsin LP), but there’s still an unpredictable and slightly shambolic element at play, cutting through the cobwebs—there’s only a faint trail of clove cigarette smoke between the elliptical, bass-driven bounce of “Zu Jung Zu Alt” or “Blut Ist Liebe” and, say, DELTA 5. Super sick.