Originating as Düsseldorf art-punk cacophony cultists in the holdout hippie culture of late 1970’s Germany, D.A.F. — originally a group, but generally known internationally as the duo of instrumentalist Robert Görl and singer Gabi Delgado-Lopez — broke away to find success in Europe as a synthesizer-and-dance band.
Ein Produkt der D.A.F. is an apocalyptic eruption of sound announcing the end of the German Republic, with shrieking, colliding overdubbed synths and guitars. The electro-metal is simultaneously repellent and compelling. Die Kleinen und die Bosen, D.A.F.’s first international release (following the group’s relocation to London), modifies the electronic chaos with an eye towards the modern dance. Material is more polished, with anarchic synthesizer work slowly integrating a solid, defined beat.
Alles Ist Gut abandons the band’s Faustian tendencies for cerebral dance music, polished to a metallic shine by producer Conny Plank. Typical funk rhythms are replaced by industrial pulses (trains, etc.); some vocal experimentation casts the band onto shrewd pop turf, despite decidedly libidinous lyrics. Gold und Liebe perfects the advances of Alles Ist Gut, emphasizing the punchy use of drum-box and de-emphasizing other instruments, creating a robot void that eerily strands the guttural vocals.
D.A.F.’s final album, Für Immer, breaks the pattern, with a variety of styles from funk to rock’n’roll to distorted metal drone before returning to a dance blowout for the final track. While it’s all interesting, none of these excursions are displayed long enough to be truly impressive. The inner spaces of earlier work are filled by a range of instruments, including very gentle bells. Like all of D.A.F.’s LPs, it is sung in German. The 1988 release is a fourteen-song compilation from the band’s three Virgin albums; the CD adds two alternate versions as bonus tracks.
Delgado and Görl dissolved their partnership to pursue solo careers (reuniting temporarily in 1985). For his album, Gabi enlisted some top names in modern German music — Conny Plank and Can’s Jaki Liebezeit among them — to make slick but expendable disco, topped off with obsequious lyrics, mostly about sex.
Görl’s flat singing (mostly in English) on Night Full of Tension leaves a lot to be desired. The fact that he wrote all of D.A.F.’s music doesn’t appreciably aid these dull lumps of spare, rhythmic, go-nowhere electronics. The LP’s only notable success is “Darling Don’t Leave Me,” an angst-ridden duet with Annie Lennox (returning a favor — Görl was the drummer on one track of Eurythmics’ first LP) that bears an unpleasant air of sado-masochism. Lennox appears on several other songs as well.