Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of German music that I happened to buy in Harvest Records recently. Some of it was Krautrock and some of it was NDW. The Neue Deutsche Welle [New German Wave] movement was interesting. It seemed like the Germans went from musik kosmiche straight to NDW, their local equivalent of Post-Punk, completely bypassing a purgative punk phase. That sort of mirrors my own development, since by growing up in the U.S. Southeast, I was way behind the cultural curves; just getting into prog rock [The more grandiloquent UK analog to space rock] way after its sell-by date [by 1977] only to have punk happening concurrently. But punk never existed in real time for me. By the time I discovered that something new was happening, punk was over and the Post-Punk phase had begun in earnest, at which point I hopped on board the train.
I first became aware of D.A.F. during their time on Virgin Records in the UK beginning in 1981 with their third, highly influential album, “Alles Ist Gut.” The band had begun in 1979 as a larger band unit that released their debut album on then-member Kurt Dahlke’s [Pyrolator/Der Plan] AtaTak label. Their sophomore effort appeared on Mute Records in the UK the next year without Dahlke present [what – he couldn’t keep up with three bands simultaneously …and run a label?] but it was with their third album, produced as ever by Conny Plank, that the group entered their imperial phase with only drummer Robert Görl and vocalist Gabi Delgado stripping down their industrial sound to its barest constituent parts.
D.A.F.: Der Mussolini UK 12″ 
- Der Mussolini
- Die Raüber Und Der Prinz
This record was astonishingly reductive for 1981 with Görl’s live drums rarely varying in attack for a relentless, almost unmoderated beat. The only other musical accompaniment are his sequenced bass lines that sound like rubber bands; thick and rich analog wave forms buzzing with power. Vocalist Delgado offers gutteral grunts and vocal gestures amid the frankly hilarious lyrics that some might consider offensive. In them Delgado describes dance crazes named for Benito Mussolini, Adoph Hitler, and Jesus Christ in the most stentorian voice possible. The backing vocals are a hilarious parody of disco girly backing vocals; presumably by Delgado himself – I can’t see any other vocal credits!
The brief A-side is under four minutes in length, even on 12,” but it was potent enough to fulfill a subsidiary function as a complete template for later groups, primarily Nitzer Ebb, who took their shtick whole cloth [including graphics – see right] from this band, if not this very single. In fact, ground zero of EBM, [Electronic Body Music] as it developed dramatically from Kraftwerk’s seeds can be said to have begun with this album/single. This record differs from its Düsseldorf forebears in that it is more willfully reductive than even their works while eschewing synthetic rhythms. Görl certainly felt no need to stop playing real drums to make this visceral music. Frankly, the juxtaposition of the physical drums and the abstract synth bass sequences give this music its core impetus. Removing the physical from the equation would sap this music of its power. Unlike many UK bands, who would ditch drums for machines at the drop of a hat, many of the most intriguing NDW bands would never forget that this was a physical music at its heart.
Next: Die Krupps