D.A.F.: Das Ist Daf

- Groenland Records are releasing DAS IST DAF, a four album box set of German electronic pioneers D.A.F. Short for Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (meaning German-American Friendship) they started as a five-piece band in Düsseldorf circa 1978. They had the regular rock band set-up, with guitarists, bassist and a drummer. This initial iteration was slimmed down to core members Robert Görl & Gabi Delgado by their third album Alles Ist Gut. As a duo they created some very forward-thinking electronic music in 1981 and 1982 that would lay the foundations for much that was about to come later in the decade.

Their sound generally consists of three elements: a bass sequence, live drums and vocals. The punchy, minimalistic sixteen-step sequences prefigured what would become EBM, house and techno. This combination proved popular at the time too – the band being one of the five biggest-selling German acts in 1981. To add icing on the cake, Conny Plank was involved in producing and remixing all four albums.

They were original in many regards but stood in opposition to the likes of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, who had been making precise electronic music with huge, unobtainable synthesizers. D.A.F.’s approach, by contrast, was rooted in the punk ethos. Their music has an anarchic energy: loose, raw, and proactive. That being said it doesn’t really resemble rock and roll. Despite trying to repudiate the influence of Kraftwerk and the like, their music is always driven by the clock – the precise, electric pulse that anchors almost all their songs. Another point of distinction was their subtle homoerotic imagery I’ll be honest, it’s probably another reason D.A.F. resonates with me: an image, so appealingly, both masculine and playful.

My one qualm with the set is that it limits itself to the three Virgin albums and their precursor on Mute. For those interested in their larger sphere of influence I recommend Gabi Delgado’d funky solo album Mistress, former member Chrislo Haas’ projects Liaisons Dangereuses and CHBB, as well as Robert Görl’s solo work. Whether there’s more or less of it, however, this music has a timeless quality, D.A.F. serve up the perfect mix of bass, rhythm, and vox again and again. Like a perfect deutsch perpetual motion machine, you’ll never need more than that.

- Hillfolk.


Album Details

Album Title: Das Ist Daf
Artist: D.A.F.
Record Label: (Grönland / Rocket)