Health with Gold Panda, Indian Jewelry and Smiley With a Knife
10 p.m. Friday, June 25
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneEyedjacks.net
Health, the L.A. noise band, lives in two distinct dimensions. There is the quartet itself, whose two LPs — 2007's punishing eponymous debut and the (slightly) more toned 2009 follow-up Get Color — are paeans to the imposing primitivism of rock 'n' roll. But there is a second, parallel Health — an autonomous hive-mind proxy that has less to do with the music's original vision than with others' views of it.
On Tuesday, Lovepump United Records will release Disco2, Health's second remix collection. The original Disco, which appeared eight months after its source material, featured tracks from the band's first album re-imagined as electronic dance pieces by diverse collaborators including Toronto's Crystal Castles, Denver's Pictureplane and Vancouver's CFCF. Those artists all return for Disco2, another shadow album that casts Health's compositions in a whole new light.
"That definitely happens every time we get a good remix," says singer/guitarist Jake Duzsik. "They're working within our sound palette, augmenting the structures that we came up with or using the vocals in ways that maybe you wouldn't have thought of — something that works more emotionally, something that's more gratifying. Certainly the first remix record allowed us to see ways that we could potentially write songs within the way we already utilize sound, but make them more danceably rhythmic or more catchy."
Nowhere is the contrast more stark than on "Crimewave," the first song to get the Frankenstein treatment. Originally a two-minute slab of stabbing synths and guitars set to tribal, war-chant drums, the track in Crystal Castles' hands became a haunting slice of minor-key laptop pop, tripling in length and built with 8-bit blips, dial-tone vocals and an undercurrent of oscillating bass octaves and MIDI beats. It also became a minor phenomenon, spawning a split 7-inch single ("Crystal Castles vs. Health") and an unsolicited, remixed remix by Bearded Baby (included as a bonus track on Disco).
"I remember when [Crystal Castles] first emailed it to us, we were like, 'Oh, this could be a hit,'" Duzsik says. "We really love [Bearded Baby's] remix too. That was unbeknownst to us. ... It might be a controversial thing to say, but a lot of big remixers don't really try very hard, because they don't have to. A label contacts them, they arrange with their manager how much money they're going to get them and they take your tracks and drop them over something they already had. There's not a lot of passion or time that goes into it. Whereas if you find someone who maybe has never done a remix before, they'll really put a lot of time into it."
Thus, the intriguing Disco2 contains down-tempo offerings by both established acts like English tourmate Gold Panda and unknowns like Little Loud, another U.K. artist Health stumbled onto by accident. "We had a friend who was like, 'You should check out this MySpace page. I like this kid's music,'" Duzsik says. "No one knows who he is. We had him do a remix and it was really good."
The album begins with the lone original cut, a new electro-pop single titled "USA Boys" that's the catchiest and most straightforward thing Health has done. It's a direct influence of the Disco experiments, Duzsik says — in a way, Health remixing Health. "We did that specifically because we knew what kind of record the remix record was. At the time we were able to mix with (producer) Alan Moulder — who worked with My Bloody Valentine, Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails — and mix it at a really nice studio, Trent Reznor's (Beverly Hills) house. So that song sounds like it was mixed like a big pop song. We wanted to see what that would sound like."