Between their 2010 remix album “Disco2” — featuring the original track “USA Boys” — and this past August, we didn’t hear any studio material from Health that wasn’t a soundtrack for a video game. On the new album “Death Magic”, Health does a rare thing in music by creating a follow-up that was worth waiting for. In the five plus years since their last studio album, the band has developed not only as composers but also as performers with a highly unforgettable stage presence in the world of electro-experimental music.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of the band, Health’s live show is known for pushing the boundaries of electronic noise, so much so that the band’s equipment might be to blame for temporarily blowing the power during a Mississippi Studios gig in June, 2010. However, that was back when the quartet was playing DIY venues, and the band’s sound hadn’t yet found the polished monolith style of clarity found on “Death Magic.” Traveling and playing in underground experimental scenes did wonders for Health, as it introduced them to peers and allies who freely picked apart every nuance and glimmer in the band’s tracks for two successful remix albums.
Judging by the live video for the single “Stonefist”, with its battering-ram-like fits of grating bass, Holocene will be a most fitting place for Health’s brilliant lighting cues. “Stonefist” is noticeably more influenced by brainy sound design than the abstract experimentation on their past albums, and will translate nicely to a lush sounding performance. Because of their darker pallets of sound, Health can warrant comparisons to Liars or TRST. But what sets them apart is an obsession with bending ordinarily abrasive sounds into a cohesive groove of danceable electronics.
When not delivering the trademark haunted robot sound of Health’s vocals, frontman Jacob Duzsik can be seen nonchalantly pointing his mic towards the stage monitors, hoping for some controlled distortion to add to the set. It’s just another way in which the band is always open to the influence of fragmented, dirty sounds, and capturing the rawness of them for the live show.
Also, on hand at Holocene will be Pictureplane (Travis Egedy), who has remixed the Health tracks “Lost Time” and “Die Slow.” Egedy is a central figure to the obscure genre of dark wave, where his music touches on themes of unrequited love and Goth romance. If you have enjoyed bands like Salem, or the more popular Purity Ring, it was Egedy who is credited with coining their genre “witch house”. This will be a night not to miss at Holocene, as it’s rare that two heavy-hitters in similar scenes will come together under one roof, get your tickets now.
By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Appears Friday at the Wonder Ballroom
Ethan Gruska comes to Portland on Friday, Mar. 24 in support of his first solo album "Slomotionary". Reoccurring Dream is the first single from the project and features some excellent lyrics and smooth ...