shytone  books  music  essays  home  exploratories  new this month

music reviews

DAF: Die Kleinen und Die Bosen (Mute)


Bargain alert for collector scum - this thing still floats around quite cheaply on vinyl. And, unlike their later stuff as a duo, it's well worth your attention. Because in 1980, when they cut this one in Germany w/Connie Plank, these guys were still Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft. They were still a band - not just a studio project - and, despite some awkwardly "futuristic" new wave touches on occasion (sadly, nothing dates as badly as "the future") there's certainly enough strong stuff here to warrant searching it down.

Some reference points - early Kraftwerk (on steroids)/Neu (just try "Nacht Arbeit"), early Cabaret Voltaire & some anticipation of Neubauten - the next important German outfit - to boot. Harsh, sometimes near hysterical stuff that often seems like a German parallel to the Pop Group's apocalyptic funk. Because Eurodisco, it ain't…

And, as I've said before, it still floats around cheap - which just goes to prove that unfashionable stuff is often your best buy. After all, w/all the critical attention paid to Krautrock of late, and the ongoing interest in German music from the 80s on, you'd think that the one group that genuinely bridged that divide'd be lauded, rather than forgotten. But, such is the case - at least at the moment…so, here's a chance to get ahead of the game for a change.

Personal favorites include the aforementioned "Nacht Arbeit", the stoptime dirge opening "Gewalt", "El Basilon"'s two churning funk grooves - in which guitar & synth switch places, exchanging roles between rhythm & disruption. And prove equally adept at both roles…Then there's the opener, "Osten Wahrt am Langsten", which mines the same kind of skeletal, disturbing mood that Cabaret Voltaire specialized in at around the same time - only here w/the benefit of a real rhythm section. All up, its strengths have easily survived the vicissitudes of fashion and, if you've got any fondness for the music of that period, this is one overlooked gem you shouldn't miss. Herein endeth the lesson…




John Henry Calvinist