health get color
  • FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2009

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Jumping back and forth across the line of "beat-tastic!" and "unbearable screeching noises" is something HEALTH has been prodigiously consistent at accomplishing. 2007's Health was a foray into the uncharted lands of ear-splitting violence, particularly with reverberated talk-box screeching, war-like thundering drums, and HEALTH's signature rattle-snake-esque wind-up synth (I bet that thing has a name and I'm dumb for not knowing it). Most of the weirdness was absent when the interesting bits were stripped and reworked into techno-worthy beats on HEALTH/DISCO. Neither successfully edged along the line between random noise and actual songwriting.

Random noise opens Get Color, but something is different: the tempo becomes vaguely consistent; the guitars seem to be following a pseudo-melodic chord progression, and is that a chorus/verse/chorus structure? When the jumpy noises at the end of opener "In Heat" lead into first single "Die Slow," and the band successfully accomplishes a "transition" into a "song," it can be settled: they found the line.

Now I'm not saying I didn't enjoy HEALTH at the Fader sideshow when Baeble capture them two years ago: the energy was palpable. But I found HEALTH/DISCO more appealing for it's manipulation of HEALTH's oddities into accessible grooves. The problem with HEALTH in their original incarnation was a lack of ability to grasp what was going on; it looked fun as hell to play, and also to experience, but as a listener of recorded music, ultimately unrewarding. Color is a beast of duality, luring you in with (relatively) friendly sounding songs that devolve into clouds built of a former HEALTH; dark, frightening and somewhat abrasive. And that is the grand success of the record; HEALTH gets listeners to keep hanging on as they slowly lose their minds and themselves in the maddening hail of noise.

Overall the record follows a sort of roller-coaster of discernable melodicism and fuzzy wailing, jumping back and forth from the usual HEALTH mess of sine waves to something closer resembling structure and progression. And then there is Death +, a pattern based song that seems to be the HEALTH idea of compromise: a repeating pattern of the former mess of noise that gives the illusion of the later organization. And then Severin kind of destroys all of the balance by acting out as a classic HEALTH spasmodic explosion at the onset, and regressing into a constant drum beat/guitar riff. Basically, even though they've tamed themselves, it is difficult to expect anything consistent from HEALTH. That is, except for being consistently unpredictable. -joe puglisi

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