HEALTH is a noise rock
band from Los Angeles
. The band is made up of drummer BJ Miller, guitarist/vocalist Jake Duzsik, bassist John Famiglietti, and guitarist/drummer Jupiter Keyes. They are signed to Lovepump United
, an indie label
co-founded by Mookie Singerman, vocalist of Philadelphia cybergrind
trio Genghis Tron
They have two full-length albums (a self-titled one in 2007 and Get Color in 2009) and one remix album (//DISCO, released in 2008), as well as a handful of singles. HEALTH have been enjoying a sizable increase in popularity since //DISCO came out, owing almost entirely to the remix of Crimewave done by Toronto electronica duo Crystal Castles. The result was a catchy, pulsating beat that sounds nothing like the original Crimewave on HEALTH, the album. This probably led to the disappointment of a lot of electronica fans who were drawn to the band under false pretenses, and who wouldn't even recognize Crimewave if they heard it. This popularity bump afforded them a rather prestigious spot on tour with Nine Inch Nails in 2008, opening alongside The Bug and Boris.
HEALTH is at their best when performing live. Band members switch instruments at the drop of a hat. One could be playing guitar, and then pick up a pair of drumsticks, hop over to the kit and start bashing a cymbal, and then grab a microphone and wave it in front of an amp to generate feedback. It's a wild, rotating free-for-all, and quite the spectacle. The dashing back and forth from one side of the stage to another reflects the music accurately enough. HEALTH is frenetic, spontaneous, and always changing. One of the mainstays of noise rock is unpredictable, unpleasant sounds, battered into a shape approximating regular rock. In line with that, a typical HEALTH song will go places that are impossible to foresee at the outset. It's ADHD, set to music made seemingly from chalkboard screeches and dropped dishes being as melodic as they can. Other than guitar and mic effects, and looping devices, they don't seem to use any electronic instruments. Effects pedals are heavily used though, and make the guitars sound more like synthesizers sometimes.
HEALTH is the debut album by the band of the same name. It was released on Lovepump United in 2007. Though technically a full-length album, it is only 26:42 in length, which could probably qualify it as an EP. Being only a little over twenty-five minutes and having ten songs, that averages out to two and a half minutes per song, which isn't bad. Each song explores a sound and a rhythm, and when it has been explored, it is dropped.
I've read complaints that every song sounds the same. I think that misconception comes from the fact that they have a unique sound. No other group sounds like them, except maybe Big Black, and that's only tone-wise. A big part of what makes HEALTH special is the way they play with rhythm. Most of the songs on HEALTH are drum driven, and it's a tribal, primeval, savage drum, a far cry from the restrained, orderly beats you hear on the radio. Playing with rhythm isn't just about the drumming, it's also about expectations. Pop music is usually formulaic, and a song can be mentally mapped out after hearing a few seconds of it. The album HEALTH isn't like that, especially because of the short length of some songs. You might be getting into one song, and just when you start to like it, it will be over. This happens over and over on HEALTH, and often during a single song. It's hard to tell exactly where the tracks begin and end, because some seem to be two or even three tracks in one. It's best to just think of the album as one piece of music, disjointed as it is, and enjoy the bumpy ride.
For some harsh music with radical changes in tempo, intensity, and style, HEALTH is the album to hear. Harsh is both a good and bad way to describe HEALTH; on one hand, it's important that the listener can handle harsh music (screaming; loud, high, blaring sounds; heavy feedback), but on the other hand the music is just as often danceable and pleasant. The vocals sway from wordless yells to dazed, monotone, post-punk-style mumbling, and the music itself could be described as disco at some points and brutal noise at others. It's what could be considered "contradictory music," and is worth a listen if you can stomach the violent veering between styles.
HEALTH was recorded live, in a popular venue in LA called The Smell, but was not recorded in front of an audience.
1. Heaven (2:37)
2. Girl Attorney (0:36)
3. Triceratops (3:14)
4. Crimewave (2:05)
5. Courtship (0:56)
6. Zoothorns (2:49)
7. Tabloid Sores (2:50)
8. //M\\ (3:27)
9. Glitter Pills (3:38)
10. Perfect Skin (4:22)
11. Lost Time (2:12)
HEALTH - HEALTH - 2007 - Lovepump United