Of all the bands to have emerged from the now legendary Smell community, with the possible exception of No Age, none has gained so much hype and publicity as Health. Since the release of their self-titled debut back in 2007, this D.I.Y. Los Angeles quartet went from playing Davis‘ humble Delta of Venus to being hand-picked by Trent Reznor on Nine Inch Nails‘ heavily publicized “final” tour. All of these feats are even more impressive considering the band has had no radio play or TV spots (No Age played on Craig Ferguson).
Get Color, the band’s second full-length album (due out Sept. 8), follows Health on their journey of boundary-testing noise apocalypse. They seamlessly combine elements of noise, disco and industrial rock for a very volatile combination.
The band’s influences are not difficult to trace – subdued and androgynous chant-like vocals recall seminal Shoegazers such as My Bloody Valentine and Lush. Unannounced changes in both tempo and instrumentation evoke John Zorn’s Punk Jazz outfit, Naked City. And then of course there’s Health’s penchant for blending ritualistic, pagan drums with blasts of guitar noise and electronica, which has fittingly earned them the monikers “Boredoms Jr.” and “Liars Lite.“
But whereas the band’s debut was an exercise in imitation without synthesis, Get Color feels like a cohesive whole. The stylistic elements haven’t changed – this is still noise rock flirting with disco, but the sound is tighter and more focused.
Although less chaotic and sonically overbearing than its predecessor, Get Color still remains distant and impalpable. Because Health eschews traditional song structure of intertwining verses and choruses for long, hypnotic drones and abrupt bursts of noise, most of the songs on the album lack a feeling of completeness. For 32 minutes and through nine songs, there is not a single instance of aperture, development or resolution. And yet, if the songs were to begin in the middle or were cut shorter, the album would lose all of its impact. Well done, Health. Well done.
Give these tracks a listen: “Die Slow,” “We Are Water“
For fans of: No Age, Liars
– Boris Freyman