HEALTH: Death Magic
Loma Vista (2015)
I know this record came out in August last year, but when has this blog ever been up-to date with what’s going on?
I’ve been following these guys since stumbling across their 2007 debut album in the Aquarius Records newsletter. I finally saw them live this weekend and they absolutely slayed me. Not many bands can blow the lid off an afternoon festival slot but HEALTH did just that. What’s more, there was something nonchalant about the way they put every other act on the bill to shame. Brilliant.
HEALTH started out as an anxious carpet bombing of the musical landscape, and evolved into a pop band seeking respite in the primal world of experimental music. Like a hormone ridden teen, HEALTH have to deface every pretty sound they make with something abrasive and dirty. On Death Magic they’ve perfected that tense stand off.
The production is uber polished, pristine and glistening like top 40 music. The drum tracks are huge and completely dry, totally ready for stadium arenas and Super Bowls. Every track throbs with synths that are crisp and sharp as blades. Danceable 4/4 beats abound.
And then, there’s the sudden blast beat attacks and inhuman shrieks; ambient background noise that blankets everything in dread and drama. Central to the mix is Jake Duzsik’s androgynous falsetto, calmly singing about bombs exploding, guns going off, and the inevitability of death. He delivers lines like, “We die. So what? We’re here. Let Go,” with a calm conviction that feels both perverse and comforting.
The morbid humour that underlies Death Magic‘s shiny racket is reflective of the band’s native Los Angeles. A glamorous, kale and quinoa surface that barely conceals a grimy underbelly filled with disastrous plastic surgery, prescription drugs, Brett Easton-Ellis and sex scandals. HEALTH are a candy coated arsenic pill. All vibrant colours hiding rats in the shadows.