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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… The Units March 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Until recently I’d never consciously heard of this crowd, a US based – also involved in performance art – early electronic/new wave group who were extant from the late 1970s until 1983. It was only reading this piece here from a 1980s magazine – on a pointless quest to find out how Japan got that sequenced synth bass sound on Quiet Life, and if anyone has any idea how it is done I’d appreciate it – that I read of them.

Wiki, as can be seen above, has some information on them and there’s bits and pieces of their output on the web. YouTube has a good selection of their songs.

First up a caveat or two. The music is often clunky as if they’re not quite sure whether to go new wave or electronic/synth pop, and the production is – at times – different. But that aside there’s some interesting sounds here, with songs that – well, mix electronic/synth pop and new wave.

What’s interesting is that it takes a different route entirely from, say, John Foxx or Gary Numan, though there is more than a hint of Ultravox. In part it is because it is more abrasive. This isn’t the steely and somewhat detached alienation JG Ballard, this is a different sort of alienation entirely, fuelled as much by punk as by 1970s electronic experimentation.

Now some of this is more than a little bit like Talking Heads – which is not necessarily a good thing in my book. But then again it’s early Talking Heads, and that’s a bit better in my book. Go has a cracking synth line. Digital Stimulation is pretty good in an early 1980s style. And then Cowboy sounds weirdly like a demo track from Boards of Canada. And that points up something very curious about the group, there’s plenty of electronic sounds here that sound, for all the dodgy production, remarkably more modern than the release date would suggest. It’s not difficult to see these reworked completely into instrumentals, or near instrumentals – and lo, well read below.

Perhaps not entirely surprisingly they broke up after a horribly misconceived foray into commercial synth pop. But there have been some interesting remixes of their material in subsequent years…

Anyone reading here who remembers them from back in the day?

High Pressure Days

Digital Stimulation

Cowboy

Cannibals (debut single from 1979)

Go + Mission

Warm Moving Bodies

The Units – High Pressure Days (Dynamicron Remix)

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