Album Reviews

HEALTH – Disco2

(City Slang) UK release date: 12 July 2010

HEALTH - Disco2 When it comes to the production of a successful and acclaimed remix album, fashionable LA noiseniks HEALTH already have considerable form. In 2009 they offered us Disco – reworkings of their debut self-titled album, which featured the defining Crimewave Crystal Castles interpretation. With the Canadian duo again featuring on this, their new take on second album proper Get Color from 2009, can its success be repeated?

Getting things off to a great start, listeners are gifted an all new HEALTH track – USA Boys – as an opener. Very much a scene-setter for the collaborations to come, this is discernably softer-edged than might be expected from this band. Drowsy drawled vocals backed by a rhythmic house beat: this is HEALTH chilling out after a night of extreme noise, rather than the full-throttle version: and not necessarily ending up any the worse for it.

CFCF (one of three artists, along with Crystal Castles and Pictureplane who also featured on Disco) provide the album’s first remix proper, of Before Tigers. Synths swirl, handclaps clap, and the pace once again errs to the laconic, to the extent that the whole track feels remarkably close to being a simple continuation of the first. Javelin‘s take on In Heat injects a little more pace (and a cheesy ’80s feel). with an enjoyably strong bass line and just-this-side-of-wacky synthesisers. Tobacco‘s Die Slow is a highlight, with its robotic electronica sounding simultaneously sexy and displaced.

Small Black offer an evocatively queasy take on Severin, all echoed stuttery vocals, bleeps and keyboard arpeggios, in another key moment. Following this, Gold Panda‘s Before Tigers alternates seductive flickers, drawn-out chords and woody percussive noises, dispensing with vocals altogther to create a piece of music that unsettles as much as it soothes, with an ending that is an effective rainfall simulation.

Billed as Crystal Castles vs HEALTH2, Eat Flesh is as ghostly and haunting as could be expected, yet also more laid-back than might be anticipated. At first. But once it kicks in properly, the heavy-duty drumming and dissonant squeals overlay the eerie vocal in what is perhaps this album’s most perfect take on the HEALTH (and indeed the Crystal Castles) modus operandi. Another breakthrough hit surely beckons.

Salem use the echoing, delayed vocal effect again on In Violet, which here sounds a little like a mere placeholder on the album. Towards the end two versions of Nice Girls are included. The first, from Blondes, is gently Balearic, subtly and incrementally building as it shimmers along, while Little Loud offer a watery, rippling, more urgent and perhaps better-realised take, the played-backwards vocal adding interesting textures. Die Slow features Pictureplane endowing the track with a warmer, more organic, slightly wistful quality. The album, remix-wise, is bookended by its two interpretation of Before Tigers. Blindoldfreak make the track a far more sinister, twisted and disturbing beast than the earlier mix, ending the album on a brilliantly downbeat note.

Taken as a whole then, this is that rare and desirable remix album that actually applies a plethora of original, striking and interesting interpretations to the source material. Whilst not recommended for someone looking for an introduction to HEALTH as a band (it would be wholly misleading in this light) it is certainly a worthy companion piece both to Get Color and to the original Disco remixes.

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HEALTH – Disco2
HEALTH + Chrome Hoof @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
HEALTH @ Garage, London
HEALTH – Get Color