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Morphius Records Newsletter
Lens Records is a Chicago based record label created to help support and distribute the works of artists who prefer to work with a smaller, artist driven label. The label has released a variety of work in different genres including ambient, experimental, dark ambient, electronic, rock, modern classical, electroacoustic and field recordings...
Community Library is proud to bring you the first ever legitimate reissue of San Francisco’s synth-punk legends, UNITS! You can finally get rid of the crappy bootlegs: this is the definitive re-mastered collection of the band’s most sought-after early singles and selections from their first LP, Digital Stimulation. It also includes unreleased material culled from early demos, recordings made for art happenings and film, and more. This anthology is a view not only into the Units’ seminal years, but is also a step into the rich and under-reissued history of San Francisco’s punk, new wave and post punk years.
The end of the 1970’s saw Units and their compatriots (Pink Section, Voice Farm, Tuxedomoon, and Screamers) storming punk clubs like the Mabuhay with a new electronic punk sound. The co-opted, predictable guitar rock of the era had given way to aggressive synthesizers, film collage, and punk DIY ingenuity. Units were a cornerstone of this unofficial movement, later called “synth punk” and which would come to define a greater west coast DIY culture combining new synthetic sounds, ranging from Nervous Gender, Screamers and Monitor, to The Blackouts. Units’ tight keyboard riffing, raw electronic texture, monotone delivery, raging synth arpeggios and growling Moog basslines practically define synthpunk’s futuristic, alienated disposition. Thematically, Units’ music explored and exploded the very nature of “unit-like” conformity- perhaps using their synth blasts to tear away the very fabric of it. This compilation includes “High Pressure Days,” a testament to the loneliness and urgency of the times, and one of synthpunk’s greatest anthems.
Like other bands of their era, Units’ musical language did not end with the three chords of punk or the drama of new wave. Many of the songs here clairvoyantly anticipate the rise of underground pulse driven electronic dance music (“Cannibals,” “Warm Moving Bodies”). Others feature complex arrangements, almost embodying an epic prog-rock ethic (“I-5,” “Tight Fit.”) Unlike Suicide and DEVO--their contemporaries from the east coast--San Francisco’s Units are overwhelmingly Californian in their sound and ideas - whether it’s a satire of drag-racing car culture (“Go”) or a celebration of SF’s Mission district (“The Mission is Bitchin”). The demos and film soundtracks included here further highlight the band’s significant influence from experimental synthesizer music from a community that bore Buchla synths and Chris Burden’s performance art at the height of the 60’s, ten years earlier. Even Californian heavy guitar/hair rockers Trakstod Station get an ironic nod in the rare Units cover of “Contemporary Emotions.”
We hope you enjoy this anthology, the results of over three years of negotiation, selection, and remastering. Units will soon be the subject of several remix releases, including a 12” for the Relish label (Switzerland) from Headman and Rory Phillips, and an album from the Opilec label, on which Units are remixed by Italian dance music legends Danielle Baldelli, N.O.I.A, Und, and I-Robots!