Calfornia’s rather fine ‘noise’ band Health have forged their reputation as much by their own oft lacerating, eccentric beats and layers of sounds as the alliances they have formed along the way. Early recognition came as part of a collaboration with the inexcusably popular Crystal Castles, and their first record was swiftly followed by a remix album featuring versions phoned in by the good and great of the So-Hot-Right-Now bloggo-scene. Many of the original remix artists are back yet again and the results are a melange of spatial emptiness reminiscent of early ’90s chillout culture and retro, ’80s style pop licks that belie the source material in a pretty striking way (when it works). ‘In Heat’ (Javelin Remix), Get Color’s groin-kicking opening track comes across all Hall and Oates, and Die Slow (Tobacco mix) has a grandiose, floor filling aspect that may be pure Timbaland cheese, or pure, distilled cheek.
The album is uneven though, as you would expect from a disparate set of artists, and of the three mixes of ‘Before Tigers’, only one isn’t wretchedly boring. It’s also hard to imagine the setting for some of the tunes, are they supposed to be disco-floor friendly, or chill out room compatible? Or is it all the spooky soundtrack to the great Zombie High School movie John Hughes never made? The slightly worrying aspect that maybe Health want to sound like this, or are confused as to their own identity. But then again, like the man who isn’t afraid to cry in public, maybe they are just ultra-comfortable with how they sound and don’t mind that the vigourous battering you expect from Health is utterly not present on this record.
That said, Health are the kind of outfit that are likely to engender the nerdy completist in their fanbase, and as such, this will be crucial purchase. Health are very cool right now, and the remix idea was cool, maybe, 20 years ago. Health seem to desperately want to be the avant garde in the re-coolification of the remix album. They’re not quite there yet.