HEALTH @ the El Rey, 02.01.08

HEALTH is an amazing live band.

Initially, I was skeptical about last night's show: HEALTH (MySpace), an integral member of the Smell's current "lineup" (Mika Miko, No Age), playing at ... the El Rey!? I shouldn't've been so cynical, though -- HEALTH filled every corner of the cavernous, rectangular venue and seemed just as alive, if not more so, on stage as ever. Whatever it is that John -- one of the guitarists, singers, and all around multi-instrumentalist -- does up on stage is absolutely mesmerizing, almost poetic. He jumps and hops and skips and shimmies around stage in complete unison with the music; clearly, he's feelin' the connection.

But, more importantly, in terms of actual music, the show was stunning. One good thing about being in a spacious concert hall is that your acoustics get better almost immediately. Your sound just get meatier, thicker, denser, and the audience can actually see, hear, and feel all the elements that comprise the songs as opposed to just being immersed in the wall-of-noise that little shoe box venues (like the Smell) subject you to. Nothing wrong with that, though. Last night was enlightening because of the improved acoustics ... and the improved skills and stage presence of the group.

About ten minutes into the set, I figured it out: HEALTH isn't just a noise band. They're not fitting into that classification as conveniently as I'd thought they would've. If you pop in the HEALTH album expecting Lightning Bolt (or whatever), don't be surprised to hear something totally the opposite. HEALTH, I think, is more aptly described as industrial noise. They've the precise speed drumming of a metal group, but it's got this mechanization feel -- super precision always does -- that lends to an "industrial" vibe. HEALTH's continual sound processing, voice filtering, and noise distortion make them sound even more industrial ... like Cabaret Voltaire or Throbbing Gristle at times. The guitars sound, at times, pre-programed, like saws on steel ... the voice filters like rudimentary tape loops or homemade synthetic effects ... the distortions and feedback like background fuzz on a Nine Inch Nails track circa 1990.

So it's dawned on me -- HEALTH represents a new wave of music: industrial noise. Catch the quartet when they come through your town as they are not to be missed. But the eponymous debut here. Read my interview with the band here, here, and here. If you're looking for their remixes and can't find enough on BBBD, check out the HEALTH // DISCO MySpace page.

Lastly -- pictures from last night can be found here or after the jump!

HEALTH - Triceratops

HEALTH - Heaven

Photo: Sam Kahn

Photo: Sam Kahn

Photo: Sam Kahn

Photo: Sam Kahn

Photo: Sam Kahn

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"industrial noise"

you're trying too hard.

Blogger nik mercer said...

It totally makes sense, though! After seeing HEALTH live three or four times ... that's what I'm describing it as. Blogs rely on the written word and objective language as a mode of description. It's tough to tell readers what something sounds like. Industrial noise makes sense to me -- sorry if it's not working for you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not say it sounds like hardcore greebo? might as well appropriate some other pre-existing genres of music in there.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i understand "industrial noise". i think it is a perfectly matching description. this is a great blog!

Blogger nik mercer said...

Thanks, man! Much appreciated!

Blogger Danielle said...

Hey Nik, I've recently done a remix for HEALTH. They had me remix Zoothorns and you can download it here :




Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out an interesting live concert
of HEALTH and aidswolf


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