Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Units - 1979 - High Pressure Days 7''

Units - 1979 - High Pressure Days 7''
The Units are a defunct, early Electronic music/punk rock/New Wave/Synthpunk band founded in San Francisco in 1978 and active until 1984. One of America's first electronic new wave bands, they are widely cited (along with The Screamers from L.A.) as pioneers of a genre now known as "synthpunk."
Primary members were Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber, but other members included (in no particular order) Brad Saunders, Randy Dunagan, Tim Ennis, Jay Darrah, Lori Lorenzo, Ron Lantz, Amy Weiss, Richard Driscoll, Lx Rudis, Seth Miller, Jon Parker, David Allen Jr., Jabari Allen, Marc Henry, Jim Reynolds, D.C. Carter and projectionist Rick Prelinger.
The Units were notable for their use of synthesizers in place of guitars, and multimedia performances featuring multiple projections of satirical, instructional films critical of conformity and consumerism. The “Unit Training Film #1”, produced by Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber, compiled from films the band projected during performances, was shown sans band in movie theaters around the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Roxie Cinema, Cinematheque, Intersection Theater and the Mill Valley Film Festival . The alternative press publisher V. Vale called the Units “the first San Francisco band to perform using no guitars”, and the Los Angeles music critic Kickboy Face of Slash (fanzine) wrote of a Units performance, “That night, watching the Units pound their machines into submission, I knew that another cliched concept of mine was biting the dust once and for all. I also knew that there probably was a future to rock n roll after all, and that future did not necessarily include anything resembling guitars.”
The Units were one of the most popular bands of the San Francisco punk and performance art scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s, headlining at the Mabuhay Gardens (aka The Fab Mab), The Savoy Tivoli, The Berkeley Square, The Deaf Club, Geary Theater and other punk clubs. The Units also opened for such bands as Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Ultravox, XTC, Bow Wow Wow, Psychedelic Furs, the Police, Iggy Pop, Dead Kennedys, Sparks and toured the United States with Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.
Notable Performance art appearances included “Punk Under Glass”, where the Units performed in the windows of the JC Penney building in downtown San Francisco, as part of a two day art installation, and the “Labat / Chapman Fight at Kezar Pavilion”, a performance art boxing match between two artists where the Units played the national anthem.
Since L.A.’s The Screamers never released a record, the Units' DIY, self stamped, 7” ep entitled “Units” released in 1979, may be the first example of a “synthpunk” record. It was followed by another self released 2 song 7” record in early 1980, Warm Moving Bodies/iNight.
The Units critically acclaimed first album, Digital Stimulation, released in 1980, was the first album released by Howie Klein’s fledgling 415 Records, which is considered to be the first North American record label devoted to new wave music.
In 1982 the Units released a single on UpRoar Records entitled The Right Man, produced by Michael Cotten, the synthesizer player of The Tubes. The song went to #18 on Billboards Dance Charts and stayed on the charts for 13 weeks. The Uproar label was the creation of Rachel Webber’s brother, Joel Webber. Joel Webber, radio promo man extraordinaire and the Units manager at the time, was also one of the founders of the New Music Seminar, New York's major new music fiesta of the '80s and early '90s. Subsequent productions by UpRoar included spoken word recordings by performance artists including Karen Finley, Eric Bogosian, and Ann Magnuson. Upon Joel’s death in 1988 Rachel Webber took over as head of the label.
After the success of The Right Man, the Units signed with Epic/CBS Records and produced a music video for "A Girl Like You" that went into medium rotation on early MTV. They released an EP titled New Way to Move on Epic Records, but typical of a hard-luck recording career, the Units' second and third albums — both produced by Bill Nelson for Epic/CBS, were never released.[citation needed]
In 1984, after recording the sound and music for the artist Tony Oursler’s film “EVOL”, Scott Ryser and Rachel Webber moved to New York, putting an effective end to the Units.
In 2005 Ryser signed a licensing contract with EMI. Once again, the recordings were not released.
In the fall of 2007, the record label Community Library out of Portland, Oregon, is slated to release a 21 song compilation by the Units.[citation needed]
TRIVIA Jandek is an outsider musician presumably from Houston, Texas, who has self-released 47 albums without ever granting a real interview. His first album, Ready for the House, was first accredited to a band called "The Units". Jandek stopped using the Units name and started using his own after being contacted by Scott Ryser of the S.F. Units. Mr. Ryser holds a U.S. Trademark on the name “Units”.
source Wikipedia (link)

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