Health – Health

Lovepump Records (vinyl release on Cold Sweat Records) – 7.0

Ah, let these days be remembered as a golden era for noise music. People seem to find genuine joy in bands like Animal Collective, Black Dice, and the Liars. I never thought that people would take to such music in such (moderate) droves. This influx is probably responsible for the existence of bands like LA’s Health. I’m not complaining. The world needs more bands like this.

At the core, Health is built around three main elements: drums, voice, and harsh noise. The songs are less about form and more meditations on repetition and manipulations of structure. Each of the band’s elements is so disassociated from its traditional role in music, creating music that sidesteps much expectation. Lyrics often unintelligible, voice is used again structurally or just for the tone. The drumming gets pushed to the forefront of the mix in many songs, providing some of the most expressive moments of the album.

The single “Crimewave” gained some notoriety after being remixed by Toronto’s bleepsters Crystal Castles, but the original is one of those songs that puts pummeling drums ahead of vocals or guitar. The track takes a rollercoaster ride through tense rhythm, buzz saw no-wave guitars and hushed incoherent vocals. It hardly sticks with one idea before a new slab of noise takes its place. The short attention span suits the track well, barely giving you a chance to acclimate to the sonic surroundings. It’s a head-spinning blur that makes up much of Health’s charm.

The album varies from short songs to shorter ones, varying the tempo of each. “Courtship” comes off like the unholy union of Daughters’s no attention span math punk with Black Dice’s taste for chirping feedback. It’s 56 seconds of spastic, shifting blasts of guitar squall that bleed into atmospheric chant and drums. As with all experimental music, it runs the risk of being far more fun to perform and create than it is for the listener to consume. If you get it, you’ll love it…if you don’t, it’ll probably be a challenge to survive the brief track. “Lost Time” opens with a slow, spiraling mixture of downward tumbling drums and ascending chants. Moments like this signify that this is music content to explore the form without feeling the need to stick to conventions. The song simply continues on, varying volume like some of the finer moments of recently rediscovered noise rockers This Heat.

Health is a short affair, clocking in at just 28 minutes for 11 songs. Experimental music is smartest with a time constraint; if you don’t like what’s happening, something strange and new lurks around the next corner. The album courses with a crackling energy that makes for a wild live show – look for a full U.S. tour this February with Crystal Castles.

Written for Airraid

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