The German electronic duo DAF sitting on steps in the 1980s
Robert Görl (left) with his DAF partner Gabriel “Gabi” Delgado-López in the 1980s Credit: Sabine Raef

When I heard there would be a new DAF LP by the end of the year, I gasped. In the 1980s, the German duo of Gabriel “Gabi” Delgado and Robert Görl produced some of the most exhilarating and fiercely danceable electro-punk that ever made fans of a bunch of dudes in black leather, but the two musicians famously had a love-hate relationship. Delgado died of a heart attack in March 2020, and I was apprehensive about the prospect of a new solo incarnation of the band. But when I heard the bleeps and pulsing drum machine that open Nur noch Einer (“Down to One”), my fears were quelled: Görl had gone through his and Delgado’s archives and unearthed unreleased vintage tracks and instrumental sequences. 

DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) formed as an improvisational five-piece in 1978, then gradually cut down their ranks. Görl says Nur noch Einer’s lead track, “Erste DAF Probe” (“First DAF Sample”), dates back to the group’s first rehearsal as a duo, where Delgado rocked a stylophone, a primitive early synthesizer famously used on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Delgado was a tough-as-nails singer (listen to his barked ravings over the classic antifascist club groover “Der Mussolini”), and I was concerned that his absence from that role would hurt DAF’s sound. In the press materials for the album, Görl says he spent a long time thinking about how to continue DAF following Delgado’s death. He felt that replacing his collaborator wasn’t an option, so he stepped in to take over lead vocals for the first time in his career. “Barely anyone knows Gabi as well as I do, so I wrote and recorded the lyrics,” he explains. “Sometimes it was like he was with me in those moments. I effectively sensed him. I never set out to copy him, but some of the lyrics turned out like Gabi would have done them, but always with a heavy dose of me to them.” Görl’s heavily reverbed incantations sound a bit like Suicide’s Alan Vega on Deutsche Quaaludes, which fits the spirit of vintage DAF evoked by Nur noch Einer cuts such as “Im Schatten” and “Das Pur Pur Rot” (which easily could’ve been a coldwave hit in the early 80s). “Wir Sind Wild” and “Gedanken Lesen” also have the propulsive, proto-industrial throb of the group’s classic material. With this LP, Görl set out to immortalize and bid farewell to his partner as well as to commemorate 40 years of the band. That’s a tricky line to toe, but with Nur noch Einer he’s succeeded—and charted a welcome new course for DAF.

DAF’s Nur Noch Einer is available November 26 via the website of their label, Grönland Records.