WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2008 |
It's not often that a band infamous for shocking and screeching, making noise and taking names, will ever meet you halfway. And yet, the LA kings of ambient confusion have allowed their strange yells, loud treble outbursts, and tribal drums to be stripped and remixed to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Mind you, "more mainstream" means a person still willing to listen to some of the insanity, with scattered bass thumps and synth pads. A handful of the guest remixers even chose to include less HEALTH and more beat, but whatever the combination, the end result is something that you might actually be able to spin at a social gathering, without hard drugs.
Then again, this is not a dance club record. You need to have at least a little appreciation for HEALTH and what they do before any of it makes sense or interests you. Putting audience aside, the record is, above all, a remix record. Naturally, the album asks the quintessential remix question: is this fun, or is this relevant?
Luckily the answer isn't "neither." The record is certainly fun, and it certainly takes some pretty inaccessible noise, chops it up, and turns it into something you might hear at a Brooklyn after party. Chewing on these beats for a good forty minutes can wear out your teeth, but it just wets my appetite for more. Keep in mind the band has said of the record "it's not a crossover...its about the music." Here is beat after beat that is meant to both flow and remind of the original tracks behind the chopping, as an appeal to the content hungry music craver. And honestly, it feels a little like escalation, or evolution: "Crimewave (Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH)" gets me nodding every time... demonstrating Health's ability to both craft bleeps and beats, noise and super-sonic vocals. A repetition that I still like to hear, even after four and a half minutes of it.
Which brings the record back to Health's main appeal: sounds we've never heard before, or sounds we'd like to hear again. The album certainly had it's moments. However, the energy of their stage show can never be supplanted by a recording. They have to be seen to believe that four guys can possibly move, act, and scream quite like the rumors. However their live show is not something you can dance to, at least in the traditional sense (unless you have moves like the lead singer of Ponytail). This record is the supplement, and if you're a fan, it's worth it. It lives up to it's moniker: it's a disco. Feel free to dance. -joe puglisi