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LISTEN: To New Units Remix & LP Details
John Doran , July 28th, 2011 03:31

Back in 2009 we interviewed cult San Franciscan synth punk outfit The Units and now we're pleased to announce that they have unveiled a remix project.

Italian label Opilec Music is releasing the Connections compilation of over 24 of the band's original songs written between 1977 and 1984 and remixed recently by an enviable cast of remixers, producers and bands active now. Remixes come courtesy of cosmic disco pioneer Daniele Baldelli (who first remixed the group in 1979), Klein & Mbo, N.O.I.A. and Alexander Robotnick, along with the more contemporary names of Gianluca Pandullo of I-Robots and Nemesi.

Units songs that are remixed/reworked include High Pressure Days, Warm Moving Bodies, I-Night, Cannibals, The Right Man, Go, Zombo, I-5, East West, Run, Red, Bird River, Bug Boy, More Alike, That Funky Thang, We Need a Doctor's Son, Passion of Patterns, One Man, Life is Good Now, Moving Bodies, Contemporary Emotions, Tight Fit, Cowboy, Straight Lines and more...

More details are available from Opilec Music.

This is what Scott Ryser of The Units had to say about remixes when I spoke to him...

I first heard The Units on a Relish Records compilation this year. The song ‘High Pressure Days’ had been remixed by Headman. But even on hearing the original it was quite obvious that The Units must have sounded very futuristic when the song first came out in 1979, very forward looking back in the day. How did you get involved with Relish and this current crop of remixers?

Scott Ryser: I love the idea of remixes. It’s a very punk idea to me. I love the idea of reconfiguring art and technology and taking it to places that it wasn’t intended to go. Like Sid Vicious covering Frank Sinatra’s 'My Way'. It can be very funny and ironic. Like graffiti, but in a musical way. It opens your eyes to concepts you take for granted and it makes you re-think why it is you like things in a particular way.

I love the way Tom Ellard from the Severed Heads takes TV commercials and “remixes” them in funny ways. It seems like remixes are usually reserved for disco or dance songs. I don’t really consider The Units disco artists, but I love it when people remix Units songs for the dance floor. I also like hearing ideas that I hadn’t thought of or was incapable of doing well myself.

The people that were the first to start re-mixing The Units were actually some of the cornerstone trailblazers of the Italo Disco scene way back around 1980. The legendary Italian Cosmic DJ Daniele Baldelli started re-working our songs way back in 1979 and the early 80s and was responsible for giving us an audience in Italy.

This is very interesting to me, because while in the USA, the punk scene that the Units were part of in the late 70s was rebelling against the conformity and regimentation of disco, some forward thinking Italian DJs were taking a very a different approach… instead of killing disco with a new genre of music, they just punked-up disco.

I’ve always loved the creative, outrageous and funny, gay club music scene in SF, especially in the pre-AIDs era. Many times it had a better sense of humor than punk. Those gay dance clubs were definitely anti-institutional. The best remixes to me are similar to graffiti, in that they re-direct the message, like a guerilla artist might do by spraypainting a different subversive message over the original of a corporate advertising billboard. Or sometimes, just bringing out the potential soul of a song.

In the early 80s, Baldelli would take a disco dance song, but play it at the wrong speed and then add weird space effects to it. He’s got to be one of the pioneers of the mashup too. Playing slowed down Units songs on top of contemporary Disco. His style became so popular in Italy that people started putting out 12” bootleg records of Units songs “to be played at slow speed”, with the instructions written right on the record label. I can’t help but laugh when I hear them. My voice sounds like Darth Vader from Star Wars. It’s great.

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