Tag: Robert Görl (Page 2 of 3)


DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT or DAF are the influential pioneers of electronic body music.

Forming at Die Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf, DAF’s punky ethos became fully realised thanks to the availability of newly affordable synthesizer technology from Japan. Attaching the powerful sound to heavy rhythms and Teutonic expression, the energetic aggression of the music reflected their militaristic aesthetic, as exemplified by songs like ‘Der Mussolini’ and’ Kebabträume’.

Between 1981-1982, the nucleus of Gabi Delgado on vocals and Robert Görl on drums and electronics released an acclaimed trilogy comprising of ‘Alles Ist Gut’, ‘Gold Und Liebe’ and ‘Für Immer’ which were produced by the legendary Conny Plank and originally came out on Virgin Records.

That trilogy along with what was the first album ever released on Mute Records ‘Die Kleinen Und Die Bösen’ (which Plank also worked on) form the bulk of ‘Das Ist DAF’;  a celebratory boxed set released by Grönland Records, the set also features a bonus disc of respectful remixes while the lavish vinyl edition exclusively contains the treat of a brand new DAF single entitled ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’.

While DAF fell under a haze of “sex, drugs and sequencer” after 1982, Görl began a solo career with the cult favourite ‘Mit Dir’ in 1983. This was followed by ‘Night Full Of Tension’, an album which saw Görl embracing synthpop and the English language. It featured vocal contributions from Annie Lennox of EURYTHMICS.

Fast forward to the present day, Görl and Delgado-Lopez have more than occasionally reunited for DAF shows, while the DAF drummer has been showcasing his ‘Glücksritter’ live only project to audiences around Europe, most recently at the 2017 ELECTRI_CITY CONFERENCE in Düsseldorf.

With the success of the ‘Das Is DAF’ boxed set and the accompanying authorised biography of the same title due to break cover, Robert Görl kindly chatted to The Electricity Club about DAF’s past, present and future while also reminiscing about the beginnings of his solo career and working with Conny Plank.

Are you pleased with the ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set and what it has achieved?

Yes, I’m happy, we put in just the core albums and I thought the different remixes were a great idea plus of course, there is a very special new DAF single in the box.

It’s taken a long time to get new DAF material together, what was the idea behind ‘Die Sprache Der Liebe’?

The working process how we did it was completely old school, like in our old days. I have to say when me and Gabi come together, we don’t do so many new records, we have lots of different projects and sometimes we do DAF. The last DAF album was already 15 years ago! But sometimes we meet and talk about maybe doing something new and this time, it worked because we had Grönland and they said they would be very happy if we did at least a single.

For me and Gabi, the two songs we did was kind of a test, I did the sequences, made all of the music and then the drumming before Gabi did the lyrics and singing. It’s in the same style like in the old days.

It’s not like what many bands do… Gabi lives in Spain and me in Berlin, but I don’t send audio files for him to progress further before sending it back to me or for a third person to mix it… I don’t like this style of working when people don’t even see each other to do a record. This for me is very boring.

So me and Gabi had to meet and come together, I played him my sequences. He sees everything like my drumming and I see Gabi while he puts down his first lines and makes them better while I’m in the studio.

Gabi says you still love your vintage synthesizers?

Yes, I still love them. For example, this single is a Korg MS20 and the Korg sequencer as is the B-side ‘Ich Bin Nicht Da’

Did you and Gabi choose the remixers?

Grönland suggested these guys like WESTBAM and BOYZ NOISE, we were happy with them and agreed. Apparently when they approached Giorgio Moroder, he said “Greetings to the DAF guys, tell them I really want to do it” – this was fantastic.

There is this new authorised book ‘Das Ist DAF’? Is it a tale of “sex, drugs and sequencer”?

The most interesting part of the book is it tells the hard truth. We were interviewed many times for the book and it is not about a band where everything worked fine, where it’s a nice and successful polished career. No, in this book, the reader will see how at many points, Gabi and me had discomfort and there were times when it was not so nice. We never had fist fights but we did split and said “you go your way and I go mine”. We talk very honestly about what happened and when it was sh*t *laughs*

So was your first solo album ‘Night Full Of Tension’ a result of one of these splits?

Yes, we’d worked for 5 years together as DAF and we were burned out. This was the first split and very heavy, we could not even see each other anymore because we were together day and night for those 5 years. I wanted to do something else.

How did it feel on that album to not be drumming as well as writing and singing in English?

Around this time, I was getting more into pop. When we split DAF at this highpoint, when you look at our style and how we behaved with these three successful DAF albums, we were like pop stars, more or less. We had lots of money and good clothes, I could just book a flight to New York and go… we had everything that we wanted. I wanted to make a pop album and at this time, I was invited to London and New York a lot.

People suggested to me if I wanted to really make it worldwide, I should do an English album. In the 80s, the kingdom of pop music was still London so for me, it was normal and not a big compromise.

What was it like working with Annie Lennox?

She was involved in helping me with lyrics, I went to Montpellier for 2 weeks to write the basic ideas and then I showed her them in London.

She would make suggestions so we worked together on the lyrics, that’s why she was also on the album.

You released a great standalone single ‘Mit Dir’ before ‘Night Full Of Tension’. Have you heard DJ HELL and STEREO MCs cover version of it as ‘With You’?

I think they did a good well-produced version; ‘Mit Dir’ is my favourite solo song…

…DJ HELL also did a remix with you of ‘Liebe Auf Den Ersten Blick’ for ‘Das Ist DAF’?

Yes, I liked it… I had a few arguments about how he did it, but in the end it was a good product.

There was also the Prada commercial using the ‘Headed For The Sun’ version by MURK.FM?

That was a good one…

The ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set highlights your productive relationship with Conny Plank on those classic albums? What sort of person was he?

Conny was like home, he made it comfortable for all the bands he produced. What I really liked about him was he gave you comfort. Even at lunchtime, we met many times in the kitchen and he would just give Gabi and me his studio. He said “Take my studio, it’s yours”. He gave us time and wouldn’t look at the watch saying “we must do this and this and that now”, he was not like this.

Was he like your favourite uncle?

He was almost like a father to me, we lived at the studio so it was all very familiar. We had a room and slept there, we would go down in the morning and he would be making breakfast, while his girlfriend Christa Fast would make cakes. It was the very homely feeling that we remember most. And this made it easier for us to feel good and create without having a heavy head.

Other studios can give you headaches because of the deadlines, it was the opposite at Conny’s Studio. He would come down in the afternoon, listen and say “hey, this sounds good, let’s record it”… it was warm and comfortable with no pressure. He was a fan of our music and he was a gentleman. He always found the moment when we were hot… this was very good.

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Robert Görl

Special Thanks to Rudi Esch

‘Das Ist DAF: Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft – Die Autorisierte Biografie’ by Gabi Delgado, Robert Görl, Miriam Spies and Rudi Esch is published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf

The boxed set ‘Das Ist DAF’ is released by Grönland Records, available in vinyl and CD formats

DAF perform at Malmö Inkonst on Saturday 25th November 2017





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
23rd November 2017


With the ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE now running for its third successive year, 2017’s event gathered together another stellar line-up of speakers and performers to celebrate Düsseldorf’s standing as the spiritual home of electronic music.

Noted previous participants have included Jean-Michel Jarre, Andy McCluskey, Daniel Miller, Rusty Egan, John Foxx, Mark Reeder, Peter Hook, Stephen Mallinder, Gabi Delgado-Lopez and Michael Rother.

In keeping with the best-selling ‘ELECTRI_CITY – The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music’ book by Rudi Esch which got the ball rolling, its ethos is to reflect on the cultural impact of the city, while providing a platform for both new and veteran artists.

While the conference still had its usual international feel, there was a distinct focus closer to home with local heroes such as Robert Görl, Zeus B Held, Eberhard Kranemann, Bodo Staiger and Tommi Stumpff all speaking at the event, while others such as Wolfgang Flür and Ralf Dörper graced the event with their presence.

Proceedings began with a showing of ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’, an art documentary on the making of the David Lynch film, serenely soundtracked by TUXEDOMOON and CULT WITH NO NAME; the latter’s Erik Stein chatted with German filmmaker Peter Braatz aka Harry Rag about how he captured the psyche of the maverick director and the behind the scenes tensions on set as a young intern on the iconic movie.

Following on, The Electricity Club chaired a panel discussion with renowned music producer Zeus B Held and one-time GARY NUMAN band member Chris Payne, whose musical lives changed when they were introduced to synthesizers. While Held became a member of the German prog rockers BIRTH CONTROL, Payne first became acquainted with German music at music college via FAUST, while he was also a fan of English band VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR who were also a favourite of Paul Humphreys from OMD.

Although Held wanted to make a cold electronic album with GINA X PERFORMANCE, he found that the art student’s eroticism countered the coldness which in turn, created something completely new. For Payne, he admitted it took him some time to get over his original perception that synthesizers were cold, but Numan possessed a strong creative vision that used techniques that could not be learnt at music college, like using diminished 5th chords that suited the dystopian aura of work.

After GINA X PERFORMANCE, Held attended a 1980 Numan gig in Düsseldorf which Payne was a part of. The pair would cross paths again via DEAD OR ALIVE.

In a lively and light hearted chat, the pair recalled their experience of working with their larger-than-life frontman Pete Burns who passed away 12 months ago.

In the studio, Held said “I got on fine with Pete because his mother was German, so we had a few common words we could use. He had a clear vision of what he wanted and the emotional thing he was aiming at. It was crazy, we used four microphones because he sings very loud!”

Meanwhile as live musical director, Payne remembered: “We were rehearsing in Liverpool in 1985 for the ‘Youthquake’ tour, none of the backing singers had arrived, it was just myself and the band making sure everything was in place. Pete was actually quite shy to talk to and he didn’t say anything for the first few days apart from hello… then all of a sudden while we were playing, I heard this VOICE! I looked round and it was Pete who was coming over clearly, but he had no microphone! We could hear him over our racket! It was absolutely extraordinary, I’ve never ever heard anything like it! Although he was insecure, he was a great performer!”

What was particularly striking about the DEAD OR ALIVE material produced by Zeus B Held was that it successfully integrated sequencers and programmed drums with live bass guitar, percussion and brass as on the cover of ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’ – “It was quite risky and we had to squeeze the brass in” recalled Held, “but Pete wanted this stabbing brass in and we were lucky as we had some good guys, THE KICK HORNS, and explored the spaces we could use them and made sure the sequences weren’t too much on the one to get a feeling of rhythm”

The other artist both Payne and Held have a shared history is of course GARY NUMAN. Payne was one of the musicians on ‘The Pleasure Principle’ in 1979 and recalled “We all played together, we had drums, we had a bassist and myself and Gary on keyboards… there were overdubs but the fundamentals were recorded together”.

From it, ‘Cars’ became a UK No1 and was remixed in 1987 by Held who remembered “I had my new secret weapon called the Fairlight, so I synched up my points and put in car noises. It was also the week the Roland D50 came out so with this and the multi-tracks of ‘Cars’, it was a dream job… I beefed up the drums a bit and I had fun”

With both Held and Payne now in their 60s, their reinvigorated enthusiasm for electronic music and playing live in their respective projects DREAM CONTROL and ELECTRONIC CIRCUS are proof that age is no barrier to continuing musical creativity.

Erik Stein returned to the stage to interview poet ANNE CLARK who despite being from London and being almost unknown in her home country, became a cult favourite within Germany’s vibrant alternative music scene. Growing up in South London, her aim was to put music to poetry and punk opened the doors for her. She said: “the punk thing exploded culturally in everything including comedy, theatre, dance and literature… the things that came after are still resonating”

On her love of electronic music, it was the energy that attracted her, particularly Giorgio Moroder and ‘I Feel Love’. Although Clark has almost near anonymity in the UK, key figures such as John Foxx and Mark Reeder have worked on her music. On why her work has been more appreciated in Germany, she said: “I don’t know, maybe in mainland Europe, people are much more open minded”, although Clark still remembers there was disbelief when ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’ and ‘Our Darkness’ became German hits as she “didn’t fit into the pop star mould”.

The first day of talks was concluded with an excellent presentation by Jonathan Barnbrook entitled ‘Designing Bowie’; “It sounded like someone doing an impression of David Bowie” remembered the Grammy award winner on when the much missed legend phoned Barnbrook about becoming his graphic designer, after seeing his work on a Damien Hirst monograph. He found Bowie to be a charming man who made the process of working with him really enjoyable and fun; this in turn got the best out of Barnbrook.

Referring to designers such as Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett and Vaughan Oliver, Barnbrook said: “when the magic of the graphics works, it makes something better of the album’s music and the artist, and it’s beyond marketing and something almost spiritual”

On the polarising artwork for ‘The Next Day’ which was the “Heroes” album sleeve with a white square over the top, Barnbrook said it questioned why a new image was expected of an artist every time they released an album, especially with an artist like Bowie who was often shackled by his past. Also as Bowie hadn’t done an album for 10 years, it was a direct reference to ‘Where Are We Now?’, the lead single from the album. So the artwork effectively subverted Bowie’s whole history by defacing it.

Although the process took six months to get to the white square, various studies had been carried out using the ‘Aladdin Sane’ and Pin Ups’ sleeves, as well an old photo of Bowie performing in New York with a particularly isolated look.

Of course, the artwork was not entirely embraced but with good humour, Barnbrook gamely showed screen captures of some of the more critical responses he received. One was “@barnbrook the Bowie cover? come on, it really is bollocks right?”, but maybe this was actually referring to DEPECHE MODE’s recent live reinterpretation of “Heroes”? 😉

But ‘The Next Day’ artwork became a viral marketing sensation with the public, something that had not been planned at all, with cats inevitably figuring later on. While the passing of Bowie in January 2016 inevitably lingered over the follow-up ‘Blackstar’, its graphics and various ‘secrets’ were again an internet talking point. “It’s a system and not an album cover” reflected Barnbrook, referring to how modern visual representation of albums ranges from iTunes, CD and vinyl to posters and advertising boards.

Remembering a question the young Barnbrook asked William S Burroughs about the future of typography, the Texan replied “it’s between Egyptian hieroglyphics and airport pictograms…” – inadvertently, the postmodernist writer had predicted emoticons!

So this was discussed with Bowie and the idea for using the Unicode U+2605 pictogram came into being, with the eventual black-on-black vinyl edition of ‘Blackstar’ becoming a much talked about art piece on its own. Barnbrook’s fascinating insight into his work proved to be one of the highlights of the conference.

The musical programme was opened by ELECTRONIC CIRCUS, the combo led by Chris Payne featuring his wife Dominique Hemard plus college buddies Nigel Bates and Mike Stewart. The emotive gallop of ‘The Trapeze’ and the midlife reflection of ‘Roundabout’ provided a captivating start, with Hemard providing her sweetly naïve Gallic voix. Meanwhile, with Trump and Kim treating the 38th Parrallel like a school playground, the frantic ‘Direct Lines’ was a stark reminder that nuclear war is still a real threat

Mid-set, Payne remained on stage for the arrival of KATJA VON KASSEL to showcase three magnificent songs that the pair had co-written over the last few months. ‘Someday’ captured the beautiful melancholy of Billy Mackenzie while ‘Radio Symphony’ exuded pure electro Weimar cabaret.

A new song ‘Walking In West Berlin’ gave an indication of what is to come on Fraulein von Kassel’s new EP, before the chanteuse and the band swapped positions again for some ‘Space Invaders’. Returning to the stage to join ELECTRONIC CIRCUS for their final number, those present were treated to a wonderful synth laden version of ‘Fade To Grey’, the German No1 for VISAGE which Payne co-wrote with Billy Currie and Midge Ure.

CREEPS gave a suitably mysterious performance as per their name, the trio donning masks with hints of ‘Twin Peaks’ within their carefully thought out presentation. However, the illusion was tempered slightly when they thanked the audience at the end, rather than moodily walking off stage which would have suited their aura better.

A good proportion of the crowd were gathered for ANNE CLARK to savour her stark observations on the darker side of the human condition. Beginning with dramatic ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’, she kept her audience entranced. With electronic backing provided by Herr B, Clark has said her future live performances will be more selective, but she gave a confident performance which more than satisfied her enthusiastic fans, especailly when she encored with her big German hit ‘Our Darkness’.

The second day of the ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE 2017 had a more Germanic flavour and Dr Uwe Schütte, who compiled the academic guide ‘German Pop Music’, addressed the conference on KRAFTWERK who all but put the city of Düsseldorf on the world map, while Tommi Stumpff recollected the development of electronic body music with journalist Ecke Stieg.

Bodo Staiger from RHEINGOLD made a rare appearance to talk about his career with Rudi Esch; the band never performed live despite the popularity of songs such as ‘Fluss’ and ‘Dreiklangdimensionen’ so have almost become lost whenever the history of German pop is discussed. RHEINGOLD are certainly under rated and the excellent new album ‘Im Laut Der Zeit’ is a fine return after an absence of original material for many years.

With questions from Jochen Oberlack of Bellerophon Records, the enthusiasm of original KRAFTWERK member and multi-instrumentalist Eberhard Kranemann aka Fritz Müller brought a smile to proceedings. Talking about his new project KRAUTWERK with Harald Grosskopf, he enthused about taking their updated art school kosmische to places as far flung as China. Inspired by the lack of new material emerging from his former colleagues at Kling Klang, the talkative Kranemann certainly has the zest of a man half his age.

Following a presentation of visual and audio interpretations of DAF under the title of ‘Der Räuber Ist Der Prinz’ by students from Der Hochschule in Düsseldorf, it was fitting that the focus of the conference moved towards the duo who formed around the scene at the city’s punk club Die Ratinger Hof.

With the release of the ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set on Grönland Records, the profile of the EBM trailblazers is in the ascendancy again. While the music of DAF was aggressive by nature, drummer Robert Görl smiled a lot and revealed an endearing sense of humour during his chat with Rudi Esch; this was especially evident when pretty photos of himself and partner Gabi Delgado-Lopez, that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Smash Hits or Bravo, were projected on the big screen.

With a biography on the duo written by Esch as a companion to the boxed set on the horizon plus more new material too, new generations of electronic music enthusiasts have the opportunity to discover DAF.

ARCTIC SUNRISE began the musical leg of the second day with their enjoyable brand of dark synthpop. Songs like ‘Tell The Truth’ and ‘When Traces End’ recalled CAMOUFLAGE and particularly DE/VISION whose singer Steffen Keth has clearly influenced the vocal style of Torsten Verlinden.

While mostly remaining behind his rack of keyboards, Steve Baltes dusted off a Roland GR77 bass guitar synth to use on ‘Silent Tears’.

In the absence of his DAF partner, Robert Görl bravely performed along to a selection of pre-laid backing tracks comprising of material from his ‘Glücksritter’ live only project. Musically close to DAF but without the live drums, the material was laced with amusingly deviant lyrics while there was a techno edge in keeping with his more recent and largely instrumental output. However no songs from his brilliant solo debut ‘Night Full Of Tension’ were aired, but Görl’s uptempo set was enjoyable with songs like ‘Schieb Das Kind’ and ‘U.S. Acidboys’.

Modular trance duo STRÖME provided the musical surprise of the weekend. With their magnificent tandem Doepfer A100 systems in full view, the pairing of Mario Schönhofer and Tobi Weber kept the audience’s attention, with their combination of pulsing electronics and moderate but energetic synthesized rhythms showing how modern EDM should be done.

And so ended another fabulous weekend with a friendly, intelligent cultured atmosphere that held plenty of insight and passion; the 2018 event promises a new central location and a big name speaker as the ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE continues to develop and build its reputation even further.

The Electricity Club gives its grateful thanks to Rudi Esch and Carsten Siewert

Next year’s ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE will take place on 12th-13th October 2018



Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chi Ming Lai, Kerstin Key and Anja Deerberg
6th November 2017

Lost Albums: ROBERT GÖRL Night Full Of Tension

DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT, also more commonly referred to as DAF, undoubtedly all but invented electronic body music; the late veteran DJ John Peel charmingly called them the “Grandfathers of Techno”.

Featuring the nucleus of Gabi Delgado-Lopez on vocals and Robert Görl on drums and electronics, their punky ethos utilised the availability of the-then newly affordable synthesizer technology, attaching the Korg MS20 semi-modular synth driven by its corresponding 16-step SQ10 analog sequencer to heavy Teutonic rhythms.

DAF’s music was a confrontational statement against the very strong American influence in popular culture that had seeped into post-war Germany. But following the cult success of their acclaimed Virgin album trilogy of ‘Alles Ist Gut’, ‘Gold Und Liebe’ and ‘Für Immer’ produced by Conny Plank, DAF went into hiatus after falling under a haze of “sex, drugs and sequencer”.

1982’s ‘Für Immer’ with its best known song ‘Kebabträume’ had already seen DAF veer towards synthpop territory at various points, but it was still something of a surprise when the DAF drummer appeared in 1984 with an eight track album made in that vein, released on Mute Records.

Görl’s solo career had begun with a standalone single ‘Mit Dir’ in 1983. Dark, brooding and magnificent, the song was to become a favourite among the cognoscenti, eventually borrowed by a newer generation of electronic duos like SIN COS TAN, reinterpreted for Prada commercials and covered by DJ HELL with STEREO MCs. But by ‘Night Full Of Tension’, Görl had lightened up considerably and the artwork even had him looking totally relaxed, posing by a swimming pool.

Co-produced by Mike Hedges who had worked his studio magic on ASSOCIATES ‘Sulk’, the percussive backbone of the record was dominated by an Oberheim DMX, in a contrast to the live drumming that DAF followers were used to. And while sequencers were still prevalent, the patterns were now more sophisticated, thanks to the advent of digital sequencers like the Oberheim DSK which could control polyphonic synths such as the OBXa which DAF had used on ‘Für Immer’.

Singing in English apart from on the solemn Brecht-influenced cabaret art piece ‘Gewinnen Wir Die Beste Der Frauen’, Görl exuded a relaxed vocal style in the manner of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie that actually came over more like Yukihiro Takahashi of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA and Winston Tong of TUXEDOMOON.

And in another twist, ‘Night Full Of Tension’ featured vocal contributions from Annie Lennox; the two had met when Görl played on EURYTHMICS’ ‘Belinda’ from ‘In The Garden’ which Conny Plank had produced. Laced with ad-libs by Lennox, ‘Playtime’ was a fine accessible opener recalling NEW ORDER that showcased the sequencer and drum machine driven pop ethos of the album.

‘I Love Me’ referenced ASSOCIATES and resembled a less frantic and more electronic ‘Club Country’, a track which Mike Hedges helmed. Given the Mute connection too, elements of DEPECHE MODE’s DAF influences that had been heard on ‘Construction Time Again’ ironically also crept in… the sorcerer was grabbing back from the apprentice.

Meanwhile the quirky ‘Charlie Cat’ actually saw Lennox take the entire lead vocal and unsurprisingly, it sounded like something by EURYTHMICS as around this time, David A Stewart was using similar Oberheim equipment.

The second half of ‘Night Full Of Tension’ was glorious; ‘Queen King’ played with androgyny and sexuality over hypnotic sequences and synthetic brass stabs, while on the brilliant ‘Love In Mind’, its machine groove sat comfortably next to the similarly constructed ‘Big Brother’ by Winston Tong and ‘Big Blue World’ by Paul Haig as fine examples of the sophisticated electronic pop that was emerging during this period.

But the album’s highlight was probably ‘Darling Don’t Leave Me’, a passionate but fun duet with Lennox that was also a wonderfully wiggly synthpop pleasure. Closing with ‘Wind In Hair’, this was the closest ‘Night Full Of Tension’ got to DAF, its bassline resembling ‘Der Mussolini’ although this realisation was far lighter, with the synthetic choir and string drones pushing it closer to KRAFTWERK.

DAF reconvened in 1985 for ‘1st Step To Heaven’, their only album in English, but the pair parted ways again. Since then, Görl and Delgado-Lopez have more than occasionally reunited for DAF shows, while the recent release of the ‘Das Ist DAF’ boxed set on Grönland Records has cemented the duo’s status as the “Grandfathers of Techno”.

Meanwhile, the intervening years have seen Görl pursue that very Techno direction with albums like ‘Watch The Great Copy Cat’, ‘Sexdrops’, ‘Final Metal Pralinées’ and ‘Dark Tool Symphony’. So like Winston Tong’s wonderful ’Theoretically Chinese’ excursion, ‘Night Full Of Tension’ was a one-off experiment.

But Görl’s intriguing and cool escapist journey into synthpop crossed over into an audience that may have found DAF a bit too threatening, and that was not necessarily a bad thing. ‘Night Full Of Tension’ is a very good but forgotten body of work that deserves as much recognition as DAF’s Virgin-era albums.

‘Night Full Of Tension’ is still available via Mute Records as a digital album featuring the extended version of ‘Mit Dir’ as a bonus track




Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Sabine Raef
22nd October 2017

DJ HELL Zukunftsmusik

Helmut Josef Geier, widely known as DJ HELL, described his first encounters with the German electronic music as “being socialised with experimentation”.

Having started in 1978 and gaining his first DJ residency in 1983, Geier can be described as one of the pioneers of the techno revolution.

With multiple residencies all over Germany and gaining worldwide popularity, due to his abilities of fusing genres and bending the boundaries, DJ HELL founded his own production company, International DeeJay Gigolo Records, which went on to become Germany’s most successful electronic music record label.

Having worked with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Billie Ray Martin, Jeff Mills and Dave Clarke, Geier also produces music for high end fashion designer shows for no other than Versace, Hugo Boss or Karl Lagerfeld, with the latter photographing Hell for V Magazine.

The wizard now returns with album number five entitled ‘Zukunftsmusik’, which prompts that the listener will be fed with nothing but the music of the future.

Promising to be “his most personal, ambitious and thought provoking body of work to date”, the long player kicks off with ‘Anything Anytime’, which is futuristically subdued in its delivery, with its mechanical, robotic voice and elusive, sparse instrumentation.

Very different from the opener is the heralding single for ‘Zukunftsmusik’, ‘I Want U’ which is loaded with house beats and gritty synth. This one is a collaboration with the LA based Tom of FINLAND FOUNDATION and it skilfully showcases quite what DJ HELL is well known for: the sudden bursts of danceability and euphoria, interwoven with elements of nostalgia and straight forward kitsch.

‘Car, Car, Car’, acting as the single number two, brilliantly builds up with clock ticking motion and the aura of invincibility into a bubble wrapped sci-fi with classical elements throughout.

Both instrumental ‘Infernos’ are different, with ‘Inferno Part 1’ being a piano based coma, and ‘Part 2’ challenging any classically trained mind and heart.

‘I Want My Future Back’, as a further “no words” song, leads into ‘Army Of Strangers’, which showcases the eclectic nature to the album with a more guitary, Bowie-esque execution and a very cinematic approach, making it truly a soundtrack worthy track. Following is ‘Wir Reiten Durch Die Nacht’, riding effortlessly through the night with KRAFTWERK-like synths and an artsy vocal.

As the master of genre bending, DJ HELL excels on ‘Wild At Art’, with a magnificent concoction of synth, classical, house and anything in between, with a pinch of nostalgia and a dash of the look into the future, all adding up to possibly the best piece on ‘Zukunftsmusik’.

‘High Priestess Of Hell’ features a multitude of samples in various languages, all elaborating around the subject of physical consumption over the disturbing satanic motifs, animal growls and a cacophony of other sounds “in the name of Jesus”. The idea for the track comes from a video circulating the web, depicting a South African woman, Mathabo Ramphomane, who took to eating things deemed inedible, and was therefore perceived as a disciple of the devil himself.

No salvation arrives with ‘Guede’ ie Rudy Guede, the acquitted killer of the British student Meredith Kercher in Italy. More of the devilish influence, or a simple attraction to evil powers?

None other than Clapham’s STEREO MC’S feature on the magnificent ‘With U’. This familiar sounding English language cover of ‘Mit Dir’ by Robert Görl of DAF is a real melodic, punctuated track, acting on behalf of the quintessential synth and the love song with no hidden meaning. It all ends abruptly to go into the bonus track of ‘Mantra’, finishing the long player.

DJ HELL couldn’t have turned out a more eclectic album if he tried. From heaven to hell, with its grizzly, animalistic qualities, through purgatory with its hopes of resurrection, into the blue skied positivity of heavenly musicality.

All that, and more, carefully balanced, with Jin Yang complementary forces coming together to complete the world we live in; the good and the evil.

Geier is metaphysical; he’s transcending the limitations and introduces no regulations, inviting “you on a musical trip of a lifetime; his lifetime, your lifetime, music’s lifetime.”

‘Zukunftsmusik’ is released by International Deejay Gigolo Records in CD, double vinyl and digital formats




Text by Monika Izabela Trigwell
13th May 2017


Elektronische Musik Aus Düsseldorf

German music has been compiled before, but it has often been a hit and miss affair.

electri_city2Soul Jazz Records’ lushly packaged ‘Deutsche Elektronische Musik’ sets over two volumes contained a wide range of freeform experimental works from Der Bundesrepublik, but occasionally forgot about the Trade Descriptions Act implications of its title.

Released to coincide with ‘ELECTRI_CITY – The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music’, the English translation of the acclaimed book by Rudi Esch about the city’s music heritage, ‘ELECTRI_CITY 2’ gathers together the more accessible elements of Deutsche Elektronische Musik, Kosmische and Neue Deutsche Welle.

Think of it as a direct journey of discovery, but with the benefit of a local tour guide as well. Issued by Grönland Records who handled the NEU! and HARMONIA remasters, the 2CD deluxe edition  ‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2’ adds the first volume that came out in 2015 alongside the original German language book.

NEU! and DAF will probably be the best known acts of those included; produced by the legendary Conny Plank, both are more than well represented on ‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2’. But with the proto-synthpop of ‘Isi’ and the proto-punk of ‘Hero’ from the former, alongside the electro-body controversies of ‘Der Mussolini’ and ‘Kebabträume’ from the latter, there are also many other acts who are worthy graduates of the school.

One of the most welcome inclusions is that of the under rated Neue Deutsche Welle trio RHEINGOLD. Both ‘3Klangsdimensionen’ and ‘Fluß’ are almost up there with great international crossover hits like PETER SCHILLING’s ‘Major Tom’. But often, the German language was a barrier to wider recognition and apart from DAF, most of the material gathered here does not really break the lyric bank. Those of Klaus Dinger from NEU! in particular are amusingly close to ranting gibberish, especially on the two brilliant offerings from his more synth driven combo LA DÜSSELDORF.

Electri_city-cover-JPGMissing though are KRAFTWERK; but with Ralf Hütter’s well-known defensiveness of the Kling Klang legacy, representation instead comes from former percussionist Wolfgang Flür and his autobiographical party piece ‘I Was A Robot’.

There is also a special hidden cover of ‘Ruckzuck’ from THE TECHNOCRATS, a side project of Ralf Dörper, best known as a member of PROPAGANDA and DIE KRUPPS. Anyone getting as far as even listening to this set of compilations will probably have at least one KRAFTWERK album in their collection, so their absence is not really noticed.

As Andy McCluskey put it: “Whilst KRAFTWERK cement their position in the pantheon of the museums and the books, LA DÜSSELDORF and NEU! were very important. They also did something that was beautiful and different”. Of course, British acts like OMD championed the cause of Elektronische Musik aus Düsseldorf, eventually distilling the form into synthpop and even selling it back to Das Vaterland; in acknowledgement of that, a mysterious collective called MAKROSOFT cover ‘Electricity’ in a deadpan apocalyptic fashion.

Further evidence of cultural exchange comes with the 1976 HARMONIA & ENO collaboration ‘Luneberg Heath’, the effects of which were to later have a profound effect on DAVID BOWIE’s Berlin Trilogy of ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’. But the biggest surprise to many will be ‘Darling Don’t Leave Me’, a lost duet between DAF drummer Robert Görl and EURYTHMICS’ Annie Lennox which is a gloriously wiggly synthpop pleasure.

Diversity was one of the beauties of The Düsseldorf School Of Electronic Music and harder, edgier sounds emerged alongside more esoteric instrumental pieces. ‘Wahre Arbeit Wahrer Lohn’ and ‘Zwei Herzen, Ein Rhythmus’ from DIE KRUPPS show how much of a debt is owed to them by the Industrial music scene.

Meanwhile LIAISONS DANGEREUSES led by Beate Bartel (MANIA D, EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN, MALARIA!) and Chrislo Haas (DAF, DER PLAN) took Teutonic precision into the underground dance clubs with hypnotic numbers like ‘Etre Assis Ou Danser’ and ‘Los Ninos Del Parque’. However, those in the hunt for something even angrier will probably appreciate the more challenging platitudes of BELFEGORE.

With ‘Flammende Herzen’, NEU! guitarist Michael Rother opened his solo account to become Germany’s answer to Mike Oldfield while on ‘Karussell’, he also proved he could sound like a one-man ULTRAVOX. A former band mate of Rother’s, RIECHMANN is undoubtedly the great lost talent of the era; the lunar synth passages of ‘Abendlicht’ and the delicate melodic schaffel of ‘Wunderbar’ showcased his potential towards the musical magnificence that was never able to be fulfilled due to his tragic passing.

Of course, a vibrant art scene centred around Düsseldorf and provided a sympathetic environment for many to flourish. DER PLAN, TEJA and DIE LEMMINGE are good examples of that more experimental approach. PYROLATOR’s ‘Max’ in particular comes over like a Rhein-Ruhr version of THE NORMAL while ‘Mustafa’ by TOPOLINOS, a pre-PROPAGANDA girl group featuring Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag, is a jaunty, enjoyable piece of Middle Eastern flavoured avant pop that was not really a true indicator of what was to come.

All-in-all, ‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2’ is as Rudi Esch puts it “an intelligent and sophisticated roller coaster ride through one of the most integral chapters of recent German music history”. A fine collection of cathartic expressionism, the 29 tracks on offer provide a fine entry point into a fascinating post-war attitude that resulted in a highly influential musical aesthetic.

01 LA DÜSSELDORF Düsseldorf
02 RIECHMANN Wunderbar
03 HARMONIA & ENO Luneburg Heath
04 DER PLAN Wir Werden Immer Mehr
05 DAF Der Mussolini
06 NEU! Hero
07 TEJA Säuren Ätzen
08 DIE KRUPPS Wahre Arbeit Wahrer Lohn
11 RHEINGOLD 3Klangsdimensionen 2010
12 MICHAEL ROTHER Flammende Herzen
13 MAKROSOFT Electricity

01 RIECHMANN Abendlicht
02 NEU! Isi
04 ROBERT GÖRL featuring ANNIE LENNOX Darling Don’t Leave Me
05 DIE KRUPPS Zwei Herzen, Ein Rhythmus
06 TEJA SCHMITZ Studieren
07 DAF Kebabträume
09 LA DÜSSELDORF La Düsseldorf
10 BELFEGORE Mensch Oder Gott
11 DER PLAN Gummitwist
13 TOPOLINOS Mustafa
16 THE TECHNOCRATS Ruckzuck (Hidden Track)

‘ELECTRI_CITY 1_2’ is released by Grönland Records as a deluxe 2CD edition. Each compendium is also available separately as a CD, double vinyl LP and download


ELECTRI_CITY The Dusseldorf School Of Electronic Music‘ELECTRI_CITY – The Düsseldorf School of Electronic Music’ by Rudi Esch is published by Omnibus Press on 26th August 2016.

Book launch events featuring Q&A sessions with Rudi Esch and special guests to be announced include: London Rough Trade East (10th September), Brighton Hotel Pelirocco (11th September), Liverpool Cavern (9th November), Birmingham and Midland Institute (12th November), Manchester Palace Hotel (13th November)

Please check https://www.facebook.com/Electri.city.Esch/ for details

This year’s ELECTRI_CITY_CONFERENCE takes place at Düsseldorf CCD on 14th – 15th October 2016



Text by Chi Ming Lai
17th August 2016, updated 1st July 2017

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