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  • David Bentley

Xinombra 🇸🇪- ‘Tack Himmel’ (single)

I saw this band finish off the first evening of a festival in Sweden a few years ago and they almost finished off the venue as well. I’ll repeat verbatim what I said at the time.

“Then, as if to prove how different this event is, the evening wrapped up with an impressive metal band, Xinombra, which was created ad-hoc out of three others and which features (in its stage act) unenclosed flames (undoubtedly an ‘elf ‘n safety referral in the UK), something akin to one of the Martian machines in War of the Worlds and a singer who grapples with a heap of metal junk as if he were Sigourney Weaver and it The Alien, managing to lose his mic lead in it in the process.”

You’ll get the visual idea immediately you hear this new single from them. ‘Tack Himmel’ (literally ‘Thank You Heaven’, or more likely just ‘Thank Heaven’) is actually more metal, and more ‘krautrock’ than I remember from that night. It even sounds like its being sung in German. But at the same time there is a degree of experimentation about it, and it’s the experimentation that I recall most from that gig.

The main reason I think ‘Thank Heaven’ is a closer translation is that those two words form the opening of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ‘For Annie’ on which the song is based. They’ve played around with the words thereafter somewhat but basically that’s it.

Poe is always a heavy, disturbing read at the best of times and this song encapsulates his drunken psychosis, whether that was intentional or not.

And that poem contains in its opening verse the words:

Thank Heaven! the crisis,

The danger, is past,

And the lingering illness

Is over at last—

And the fever called "Living"

Is conquered at last.

All our readers being very well-read of course, many will know that the line about ‘the fever called living’ is quoted in the rambling speech of Lord Buffing at the Bavardage’s dinner party for le tout New York in The Bonfire of the Vanities, attended also by the novel’s anti-hero, the Wall Street ‘Master of the Universe’ Sherman McCoy, his wife and his lover and her husband, Arthur Ruskin, the Jew who made millions selling air charter tickets to Mecca. To this day that chapter, of the funniest, most satirical book I ever read, remains the icing on the cake.

Which is a very long way of saying that if Xinombra can tackle Poe by way of experimental metal and get away with it, how about having a crack at something like the theme of The Bonfire of the Vanities? They’ve already performed a piece of work based on 15 ‘short stories from other words’ and another, a rock musical set around Swedish Nobel Laureate’s Harry Martinson's epic sci-fi poem ‘Aniara’. Their modus operandi is to play gigs in steelworks, converted gas holders (which is where I saw them), cinemas and churches.

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