Album + Remix
Remix records are typically curate's egg-style affairs, a couple of excellent numbers spoiled by the need to pad the product into something of an investment-worthy length. HEALTH's first foray into these territories, though, was surprisingly successful. HEALTH//DISCO sanded down the sharpest edges of the Los Angeles four-piece's abrasive eponymous debut and shackled accessible beats to songs previously the sole preserve of discerning bloggers. It made what was something of a complicated listen eminently more appealing for the beginner, and it's entirely possible that the band's crossover success has come as a result of //DISCO rather than their debut proper.
So it's no surprise that the band has sought to repeat the feat, ::DISCO2 lifting elements of their Get Color record of 2009 and welcoming the likes of Gold Panda, Crystal Castles and Small Black to the remix party (relative big names were absent on //DISCO). But there's a bonus number here, too, an original that presumably wasn't ready in time for, or didn't fit the vibe of, Get Color. USA Boys - watch its video on YouTube - is a great track though, which certainly doesn't feel like an off-cut. Steely synths and droning vocals create an intoxicating atmosphere of alien calm, but the group's trademark instrumental shrieks soon begin to make their presence felt. It lacks the pace of some of HEALTH's very best thrashers, but is executed with such style it's impossible not to be immediately smitten by. By reining in the raucousness conveyed most brilliantly in their live shows, the band has produced an understated catalogue classic.
The contributions from the aforementioned trio of rearrangers largely play to expectations, but don't disappoint. Small Black's fuzzy reimagining of Severin is a lo-fi delight that echoes their own EP's chilled-out material; Crystal Castles play their ethereal elegance card (it's that approach, or wailing electro freak-outs; middle-ground compromise is rarely on the Ontario duo's agenda) without cutting the punchy percussion from Eat Flesh; and Gold Panda's Before Tigers is evocative of Four Tet in all the right, gently throbbing ways. Of the two interpretations of Get Color's lead single Die Slow, the Pictureplane mix sets its sights on the dancefloor but lets the vocals vaporise, and Tobacco go to town in a robo-funk style. The former edges the latter for immediacy, but there's much to like about both.
Whatever HEALTH's secret is for excellent remix albums, they would do well to bottle it up to flog to lesser-able musicians insistent on releasing similar affairs of a much lower standard. This might not actually improve on the original, but it comprises a fine complementary release for hardcore fans and newcomers alike.