NDW Week – Montag: D.A.F. – Der Mussolini

D.A.F. Gabi Delgado [L] + Robert Görl [L] ca. 1981 – Ilse Ruppert

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.

Virgin Records | UK | 12″ | 1981 | VS 418-12

D.A.F.: Der Mussolini UK 12″ [1981]

  1. Der Mussolini
  2. 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

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10 Responses to NDW Week – Montag: D.A.F. – Der Mussolini

  1. Echorich says:

    I like where you’ve started and where you are going. the NDW is a really broad term for many who would enclude all the really boring German bands that came out in the early 80’s. I do not consider Spider Murphy Band or Nena part of NDW, but they get lumped in all the time.
    DAF is very close to my musical heart. I agree they are the template for the aggressive Germanic but also Pan-European sounds which would grow out of it over the next 10 years.

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  2. jfi says:

    Nice start to an interesting thread. It was certainly an interesting musical direction at the time although many, like myself, shunned it for its ‘fascist’ connotations. Any thoughts on that?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      jfi – I found the appropriation of fascist imagery to be indicative of a sense of humor. But I know what you are saying. I shun the music of Ted Nugent for the same reasons! “Der Mussolini” as I have stated sounds like it is making fun of fascism as well as ridiculing known fascist dictators as well as Christian religious icons by equating the two. I am fine with that because I consider religion fascistic and applaud their insight at equating the two. Religion is the seed of primitive, political power. People say “don’t talk about Religion and Politics” as if they were two separate, verboten topics. I consider them the same thing! Politics is simply the secular expression of the same control impulses that religion is built upon.
      Killing Joke - Laugh, I Nearly Bought One UKCDA
      Music that deconstructs the control process is fascinating to me. One of the best bands at this function was Cabaret Voltaire. Though they fall outside of the purview of this thread, I wouldn’t deny that they may have had an influence on bands like D.A.F. As did The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” single, which was something of a clarion call.

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      • Echorich says:

        Well stated, and a thread to be considered in it’s own right. There are a lot of bands from the formative Post Punk Era which pushed boundaries on subjects which were pretty much ignored before Punk. Punk opened pop/rock to all things thought provoking.

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  3. ronkanefiles says:

    D.A.F.’s best 12″ single, I think!

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  4. SimonH says:

    Have to share this anecdote – have just come back from Berlin after a short holiday there.
    A great trip, did a Bowie tour and visited Hansa studios, quite an experience as you can imagine.
    The D.A.F link is that on leaving, Robert Gorl walked past in the street outside, seems they may be recording a new album, not entirely sure. Then bizarrely in the evening when eating out, there he is in the same restaurant, a strange world!
    One other thing, purely on impulse I picked up a cd in Dussman a big book and music store in Berlin. Phillip Boa and the Voodoo Club, Blank Expression. It’s a singles collection and has amazed me with how much good stuff is on there. I can only dimly recall him from the mid 80s, suffice to say he’s something approximating the German Bowie, a lazy comparison but not totally off target, in the years of my ignorance he’s released many albums… I will be buying more. Recommended!

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  5. SimonH says:

    Hah, now that you mention it..:)
    Re Boa, I can’t believe someone this good seems pretty much unheard of outside Germany. I’m pleased that after all these years there are still discoveries to be made. Can you believe he’d played in Berlin two weeks before our visit!?
    Judging by the singles album there’s plenty of variation and no obvious let up in quality between early, mid and late period stuff. Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do.

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