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Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF)

Idioma disponível: inglês
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft ("German American Friendship"), most commonly abbreviated to DAF, represent one of very few direct links between avant-garde punk and techno. Founded as a five-piece industrial noise outfit in Düsseldorf in 1978, DAF ultimately winnowed itself down to a two-man group consisting of vocalist/lyricist Gabi Delgado and drummer/electronic musician Robert Görl. Beginning with 1981's Alles Ist Gut, a major hit in their home country, the duo forged a stripped-down, highly sexualized sound and image which helped lay the groundwork for industrial dance music. The duo occasionally re-formed and produced more overtly techno-influenced material, such as 2003's Fünfzehn Neue DAF Lieder. After Delgado died in 2020, Görl recorded Nur Noch Einer, based on previously unused material from the 1980s, and the album was released in 2021. Delgado and Görl formed DAF in Düsseldorf in 1978, and the duo were soon joined by several other musicians who additionally formed influential Neue Deutsche Welle bands such as Der Plan and Fehlfarben. DAF's improvised first album, Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft, was recorded by Görl, Kurt Dahlke (aka Pyrolator), Michael Kemner, and Wolfgang Spelmans (Delgado had temporarily left the group). Released on the German Ata Tak label in 1979 (when it was still known as Warning Records) and later reissued on Mute, Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft heralded the beginning of the German branch of industrial music: the first recordings by Einstürzende Neubauten, made a year later, bear a striking resemblance to it. Chrislo Haas replaced Dahlke, and the band moved to London. For a time, Delgado sang and played near-atonal guitar while Görl played drums and synthesizer, and a gig of this type held in 1979 at the Electric Ballroom in London takes up the second side of 1980's Die Kleinen und die Bösen ("The Small Ones and the Evil Ones"), the first album ever released by Mute Records. The first side consists of a studio recording, the last session made by the larger DAF and produced by Conny Plank, who would have a significant impact on their sound in subsequent projects. The anger and ferocity of Die Kleinen und die Bösen was remarkable even in the midst of punk -- German icons were viciously sent up, such as in their rabid cover of "Ich Bin die Fesche Lola" (one of Marlene Dietrich's fetching songs from The Blue Angel). "Die Lüstigen Stiefel Marschiren über Polen" ("The Funny Little Boots Are Marching over Poland') was an angry and hard, yet tongue-in-cheek atonal disco song about the invasion of Poland by the Nazis; such material was deliberately calculated as offensive in the politically liberal, historically humiliated, terrorist-plagued society in Germany circa 1980. Delgado permanently retired his guitar, and the duo signed with Virgin Records, which sent them back to Plank to produce their masterpiece Alles Ist Gut. The album exploded in the rock underground in the middle of 1981, and achieved major success in Germany, reaching number 15 and remaining on the album charts for nearly a year. DAF had narrowed its instrumentation down to just Delgado's voice, Görl's monolithic drums, and a 16-voice sequencer that put out a single repeating pattern for whole songs; in doing so, they had moved out of art-punk and into what they called "Electronic Body Music" or EBM. Plank's crisp production, in addition to some subtle, well-placed effects, produced in Alles Ist Gut an electronic dance album that was state-of-the-art in 1981; "Der Mussolini" became an international hit and a monster in the dance clubs. Delgado's lyrics, equating fascism, religion, and dance music, were edgy, his singing both macho and raw. Görl's drumming and sequencing were unrelenting in their funkiness, authority, and experimentalism -- though outwardly professing themselves as "apolitical," DAF were reclaiming Nazi-styled jingoism for the gay German disco clubs, complete with a marching boot beat -- it was politically "wrong," yet irresistible. Despite their innovations, solid technical ability and raves from the critics, DAF were certainly never ready for prime time. When other artists in the club genre were dancing around the issue of alternative sexuality, DAF was fairly "out" about it -- their album covers were blatantly homoerotic and their lyrics often dealt with sadomasochism. While DAF's big, industrial-inspired dance sound certainly had some measure of commercial potential, the group didn't, and they were way ahead of their time -- too far ahead. Gold und Liebe followed, much in the vein of Alles Ist Gut, though offering some further refinements in terms of sound and style. Some critics argue that Gold und Liebe represents DAF's "personal best," though Alles Ist Gut is such a defining statement in retrospect it would seem hard to top. With 1982's Für Immer, DAF decided to disband amicably, as the sequencer they used proved too limited to sustain them artistically beyond what they had already done. For a time, both Delgado and Görl pursued solo careers, with Delgado remaining on Virgin for 1982's Mistress and Görl returning to Mute with 1984's Night Full of Tension (which featured guest vocals by Annie Lennox). In 1985, they temporarily re-formed to record 1st Step to Heaven, a synth pop album sung in English, which disappeared without much fanfare. Although Görl and Delgado kept the door open for more collaboration the opportunity did not arise until 2003, when they recorded the drum machine-driven Fünfzehn Neue DAF Lieder, which included "The Sheriff," an anti-George W. Bush song. DAF also played a limited number of festivals in Germany that year, mostly to the embarrassment of the other acts on the festival bill, so intense and timely their performances were. Unfortunately, this did not lead to a full-scale reunion, and in early 2007, Delgado declined to join the group for another round of dates. Delgado was replaced, with his blessing, by singer Thoralf Dietrich (of Jäger 90), and the band was renamed DAF Partei. However, Görl and Delgado returned with the single "Du Bist DAF" in 2010. An authorized biography of the band, Das Ist DAF, was written by Miriam Spies and Rudi Esch, and published (in German only) in 2017. Reworx, featuring remixes by artists such as Giorgio Moroder and Boys Noize, was released by Grönland Records in 2018. Delgado died of a heart attack in 2020, soon after the duo had decided to work on a new album. Görl and co-producer Sylvie Marks recorded the single "Ich Denk An Dich" in tribute to Delgado. Görl then reworked material from the duo's early sessions in London, basing songs on previously unused sequences. Nur Noch Einer, credited to Görl and DAF, was released in 2021.
© Uncle Dave Lewis & Paul Simpson /TiVo
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