HEALTH:Disco::Get Color:Disco2. Anyone familiar with pre-2002 SAT analogy jargon can easily decipher that colon-enjambed phrase as “HEALTH’s self-titled debut album HEALTH is to Disco, the remix of said album, as Get Color, the same group’s second album is to Disco 2, the band’s second remix.” Duh.
If you didn’t follow that, or you’re from the Midwest and only ever took the ACTs, here’s the analogy in layman’s terms: Noise-punk band HEALTH made an album in 2007 called HEALTH. They then invited groups like Acid Girls, Narctrax, Nastique, and Thrust Lab to remix the entire album, the product of which they released in 2008 as Disco. Now, HEALTH has taken their 2009 album Get Color and had people like Crystal Castles, Small Black, Javelin, Gold Panda, and Pictureplane remix all of those songs into 2010’s Disco 2.
Still a little convoluted, but that’s the kind of thing one might expect from a group whose two full-length albums (to clarify, that’s HEALTH and Get Color) steer away from conventional musical properties like “rhythm” and “melody” and can more accurately be described simply as “noise.” HEALTH doesn’t even always fit that description; the first 20 seconds of the album are practically blank. While HEALTH drew criticism for being a weak imitation of noise-punk bands like Liars and Boredoms, HEALTH came closer to their goal of a synthesis of digital sound and quality dance beats with Disco and set themselves apart from the crowd.
Again, Get Color, the album on which Disco 2 is based, is more of a musical experiment than a traditional dance/pop album. However, in Get Color, HEALTH stepped up to the big league and out of the shadows of Liars and the like by introducing melody and dancibility, qualities missing in both HEALTH and, for the most part, Disco. Disco 2 predictably and proportionately climbs ever higher, as HEALTH’s strong points—a better original album and a well-practiced and developed handle on intricate synths and dance rhythms—converge.
Disco 2 reaches the balance lacking in previous albums. Tracks like the Cfcf remix of “Before Tigers” and Small Black’s take on “Severin” retain the well-crafted artistic interest of HEALTH’s originals, but transform the songs into addicting, wider-appealing versions. The album opens with “USA Boys”—not a remix but a brand new single from HEALTH that is right at home among the remixes—which sets the tone for the remainder of the CD and begs to be listened to on repeat. The rest of the album features a well-rounded mix of dance beats and ethereal, trance-y songs. While the good tracks are great, a couple of the middle songs, “In Violet (Salem Rmx)” for example, can revert to HEALTH’s older, jam-sesh style, which gets little boring. Fortunately, listening for and figuring out the overlaps in different remix versions is enough to keep you entertained through some of the more repetitive middle minutes.
Where HEALTH’s sound previously leaned towards noise, Disco 2 branches further out than before, creating a bridge between their old sound and more conventional dance music. “USA Boys” stands out as an example of the new path HEALTH seems to be headed down, and if they continue their pattern of full-length album followed by remix, then HEALTH’s next set should score high enough to get them into the college of their choice.
Recommendations: “USA Boys”, “Before Tigers Cfcf Rmx”, “Severin Small Black Rmx”