Remixes and collaborations, and the concept that the growth and life and mutations and splices and impositions to a song don’t stop once it has been committed to a released format, have become so ingrained and integral to HEALTH that their reworkings of songs are as patiently awaited as the origin pieces.
And it matters not if these new iterations were kissing cousins or completely estranged from the source material, or if the new material is HEALTH original or not, the expectation is not just high, it has been earned, and their collaborations and experimentations as eagerly devoured.
If 2019’s Slaves of Fear was acclaimed, the following year’s DISCO4:: Part 1 was a curveball that was lapped up. Replacing the previous tradition of reworking their newest album with new contributors, instead, HEALTH worked up a new album in its entirety in collaboration with a whole host of guests. Well, Trent Reznor proved to us all things can be just as good Broken as Fixed, so the LA noise / post-industrial trio has looked to replicate the format while ensuring repetition is restricted to the naming convention and framework only with their second collaboration album in a row.
And speaking of Reznor, the insidious ‘Isn’t Everyone’ was our first taste of DISCO4:: PART 2 (Loma Vista Recordings), it’s electronics and buried guitar-chug subtleties reminiscent of Frontline Assembly, with even a hint of synth-laden vocals as Jake Duszik‘s soft tones trade with Reznor.
The more abrasive side of the album swiftly follows with the stabbing guitars and harsh vocals of ‘Murder Death Kill’ (Ada Rook, Playthatboizay), the nastiness added to by ‘Ad’, which sees The Body responsible for some horrific howls punctuating the throbbing (gristle) and brass pulses before a melodic interlude and false-sense of security, and the ‘Cold Blood’ chunk of a Lamb of God embrace that benefits from the gothic whispered kiss that John Familglietti overlays, before letting the Virginians walk with them in hell.
Of the main highlights, Poppy continues to prove her dark creative force, providing an adroit and considered ethereal overlay that further emphasises her chameleonic and undeniable ability; soft and gothic over stately synths before hinting at caustic rage in a middle eight that quickly slips back into composure. ‘Excess’, created with Perturbator, dances with the new wave, Duszik’s dream-pop vocals at home with the eighties structure, patterns, and sounds, splashing joyfully around the understated chorus. ‘Excess’ leads smoothly into the closing (solely original) ‘These Days’, all swells and dreams, juxtaposed with jarring bursts of distortion under the chorus… enough to mildly unsettle, but not to go full Babadook. It’s an interesting door that is part opened; though as we know with HEALTH by now there is no guarantee it is a part of the garden maze they will seek to return to.
Considering the risks, there is nothing that doesn’t work, and a great deal of coherence and quality is on display, though it has to be said, HEALTH are master splicers by this point, bending their guests to their will and sound, just as they indulge in the symbiosis by bringing out the elements of their one-night stand’s personalities that match best their own intents and purposes.
The HEALTH disco (part 2) is far from silent, and has the best guest list going…
8 / 10