For music lovers across the globe the German electronic duo DAF is one thing in particular: the result of a symbiotic and simultaneously disruptive connection between longtime band members Robert Görl and Gabriel Delgado. These exceptional artists’ big screen worthy squabbles couldn’t hold back the explosive combo over the long haul. Only Gabi Delgado’s death in March 2020 – just when Görl and Delgado had set out to record a new album – would put a painful end to this felicitous collaboration.
“We were just about to go back into the studio together. Everything had been arranged, but then Gabi’s sudden death put a kibosh on that,” Görl recalls, adding that he also had artist and producer Sylvie Marks’ energetic support to thank for the album being released despite that as she went into the studio with him to record the album.
For Robert Görl this album with the telling name Nur noch Einer (Down to One) is more than a tribute to his late bandmate. Opinions differ on whether Görl and Delgado were ever friends, but: “Gabi and I loved each other, even if it was perhaps a love-hate relationship,” says Görl, who delves into the depths of the time they shared together on Nur noch Einer, also as a way of bidding farewell to Delgado.
Given that in the 40 year history of DAF the division of labor was strictly defined, with Delgado overseeing the lyrics and Görl the music, the current album is musically 110 percent DAF – uncompromising, edgy, driving and compelling. That is in part due to the fact that a large portion of the sequences included on the album are from the 80s. In his search for DAF’s musical and original soul, composer and producer Görl rummaged through old recordings and found tapes from the 80s that included as yet unreleased sequences. “I immediately drove over to Gabi’s and we were hooked because there were a few real dandies in there. It was worth keeping those tapes protected for so long. They were even packed airtight, just waiting to be reborn.” These sequences are the foundation of Nur noch Einer – and are so typically DAF. The path to making the new album was laid out clearly in front of the markedly different bandmates, except for the lyrics, which Gabi wanted to improvise in the studio as he had always done – or would have done.
Following Gabi’s death it took me a very long time to gain clarity about how it should continue,” says Görl. Replacing Delgado with another singer was never an option. “And then I thought: ‘barely anyone knows Gabi as well as I do.’ So I wrote and recorded the lyrics myself. Sometimes it was like he was with me in those moments; I effectively sensed him. Yet it was never my intention to copy him. No one would have bought that anyway. Nonetheless, some of the lyrics turned out like Gabi would have done them, but always with a heavy dose of me to them.”
The 15 tracks on Nur noch Einer are more than merely an artistic farewell to Gabi Delgado, they are also a journey through 40-years of the band’s history. “While writing, so many situations with Gabi appeared before my eyes that they sometimes became part of the songs’ content. That wasn’t the intention; it just turned out that way.” For instance, the first song on the album is called “Erste DAF Probe” (First DAF Rehearsal). “In this case I rerecorded my first rehearsal with Gabi in the basement of Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf. That also marked the birth of DAF. Gabi had gone out and bought a stylophone, which makes squeaky electronic sounds, especially for the occasion. I drummed like a lunatic to it. In that instant it was obvious to us that we would show everyone what we had in us.”
Throughout the various tracks, the album continually returns to important historical points in the band’s history, such as on the track “Ein Kind aus dem Ratinger Hof” (A Child of Ratinger Hof), in which Görl endeavors to honor the place that gave life to DAF. “That is definitely paying homage,” explains Görl, but it’s also a reminder of the sentiment of that time. One of the lines proclaims “DAF was forever.”
A piece of DAF history can also be found in the track “Holland Road,” which is a reminder of the band’s early years in London. “That was at the very start when we were still a five-man band. We all went to London and thought we’d launch successful careers without a hitch. And then, there we were: five guys in a cellar flat on Earl’s Court. But we managed to get a gig in the Marquee Club. That concert was a real turning point for DAF. From then on we had success.” The lineup began to fall apart with the band’s growing success. “In the Marquee Club we were already down to four. When we returned to Germany to record the big DAF albums Gabi and I were the only ones left.” The other band members had already run off in London.”
A no less important point is made in the title song “Nur noch Einer,” which is also the last song on the album. “In one sense it’s a gloomy reality: I am now the only one of five musicians left. So, for me, that makes the album the end of DAF, the final act,” notes Görl. He nonetheless emphasis that it is also a beginning, “a beginning as Robert Görl.” Although Robert Görl cultivated what Gabi Delgado would have wanted on the album in many instances, every track, every lyric and every statement contains a small, big portion of Robert Görl. “Themes such as upheaval, love, provocation and dominance are all typical DAF themes that can be found on the new album, but now I’m the lyricist and that obviously has an influence on the album’s overall message. Many of the lyrics have a little spin on them that Gabi may not have given them.”
How things will proceed for Görl and DAF remains to be seen. “For me this is a transition. I know that I want to go onstage with the album, and I’m very excited to see fans’ reactions.”
Erste DAF Probe
Wir Sind Wild
Das Pur Pur Rot
Du Bist So Zart
Ein Kind Aus Dem Ratinger Hof
Es Muss Ans Licht
Nur Noch Einer