HEALTH
DISCO4 :: Part I


4.3
superb

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
October 15th, 2020 | 35 replies


Release Date: 10/16/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No moment of change, with every regret.

Just when you think you’ve got HEALTH figured out, they go and move the goalposts on you when you’re not looking. There are lots of bands out there with a proclivity for shaking up their sound, almost to the point of using their desires as a marketing tool. This is quite a wonted practice within the industry today, but it’s far less common to come across a band like HEALTH who incorporate their capricious ideas with a nuanced and organic handling. Anyone who has followed the band’s recording patterns will know that after every studio release, fans are treated to a remix album filled with reinterpreted songs from the band’s latest offering – a compilation album made up of eclectic artists who put their own spin on things. These releases in and of themselves have garnered the same kind of adulation and hype their studio albums typically receive, and for good reason. DISCO is more than just a supplementary bonus package, this project sheds light on a lot of up-and-coming artists as well as bringing a thoroughly altered and engaging perspective on the band’s original versions – that’s what makes them so appealing and fun. Yet, it should come as no surprise at this point that the band, given their track record for subverting expectations, have made DISCO4 :: Part I the antithesis of its founding concepts.

By the time Death Magic had arrived in 2015, the band was starting to show off their long-developed and utterly formidable production, which was now able to materialise on any lofty ideas the band had envisaged. However, it was both DISCO3 and Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear that refined the model, pressed out the bugs and thus created two benchmark albums: a brace of fully evolved visions that met their fruition after years of trial and error and hard work. Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear’s sound still has plenty of options to choose from going forward, but blending Death Magic with soundtrack-heavy elements and their abrasive roots meant it brought an all-encompassing catharsis to the project. As for the DISCO series, it managed to peak at DISCO3; with the aid of their monstrous recording methods, they perfected the remix motif and added a host of original tracks to complement the album. Even though this isn’t necessarily the case – as John Famiglietti has previously stated that today’s musical climate makes remix tracks a redundant, messy and unviable proposition – it’s somewhat ironic that DISCO3 feels somewhat conclusive in nature. As such, DISCO4 :: Part I rightly or wrongly veers away from its founding grounds to explore greener pastures, bringing with it a new type of energy and a host of pros and cons that are entirely their own.

DISCO4 :: Part I wastes no time at all in blowing the gates off the hinges with opening track “CYBERPUNK 2.0.2.0.” (the band’s only standalone track on the album), a serene, intensely poignant and mercilessly catchy number that mirrors the mood of 2020 perfectly. It’s a lush, ethereal journey caught in a deluge of moist guitar notes, a linchpin of galloping rhythms over BJ’s tribalistic drum patterns, and Jake’s dispirited croons. The real draw to the song though is the synth work which billows across the spectrum, pervading any unoccupied space with its alluring beauty before slowly descending into the depths of its own abyss. It’s an incredibly well composed piece, stacked with razor-sharp hooks and melodies that sound like something off Death Magic, if it was completely doused in medication. Indeed, if there is one aspect HEALTH have really taken in their stride since Max Payne 3 OST, it’s honing in on and magnifying those heart-rending elements associated with that score. “CYBERPUNK 2.0.2.0.” is a hard representation of that and it only makes me want to hear a new album from them more. Proceeding that track though, it’s not as cut and dry to critique. I will say right off the bat; DISCO4 :: Part I does an impeccable job of reigning in a consistent tone from this very diverse cast of musicians, but ultimately, given the manifold of styles and the sheer scope of the project, some songs are inevitably going to brush listeners up the wrong way.

That being said however, with the exception of “POWER FANTASY” (100 Gecs) sounding ill-distinguished and stitched together in tone – as well as the arbitrary 16-bit electronic breakdown rupturing the cohesion further – every track feels and sounds surprisingly well developed and expertly handled. “BODY/PRISON” (Perturbator) captures the zeitgeist of 80’s arcade machines everywhere – a track that glides on a retrofuture-synth cruise control and has an unflinchingly cool demeanour while it’s doing it. “INNOCENSE” (Youth Code) nails the hard-edged electro-punk style Combichrist are so well known for, and the delicate gossamer surrounding “DELICOUS APE”’s (Xiu Xiu) gorgeous post-rock backdrop really heightens the haunted, brittle vocal performances being conveyed by Jamie and Jake. It can’t be understated that the sheer volume of genre-breeding here is staggering. You will wade through the dense, sludgy filth of “FULL OF HEALTH” (Full of Hell) – a beauty and the beast track that hears Jake and Dylan juxtaposed at the forefront of its grinding warfare – only to come out of it hearing the vibrant, diaphanous melancholy of “COLORS” (The Soft Moon).

What makes it all work synergistically, and stops it from being a horribly incoherent mess tonally, is HEALTH’s familiar MO wisely lays down the foundations to a song before putting their chosen artists through the ringer. Even the less immediate numbers eventually grow on you after repeated listens, revealing the gamut of their own ambitions. “HATE YOU” (JPEGMAFIA), for instance, opens up as a full-on, hold my beer trap song that was difficult to digest at first, but after a few listens it soon became apparent that JPEGMAFIA’s opening bars set up, and even complimented, the emotive and agonising ambient swells that took hold of the reins from there on. By the third act of the song it had somehow metamorphosed into a “what if HEALTH implemented trap into their sound?” kind of scenario. At the very least the results are interesting and proficient, whether they accommodate to your taste buds all the time or not, but I do feel HEALTH does an excellent job in working with the other artists to find the sweet spot in all this superlative experimentation, regardless.

Overall, one could rightfully argue that DISCO4 :: Part I misses the point of what a DISCO album is supposed to be. After all, even I have to admit it’s a little disappointing not hearing Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear’s tracks repurposed from a different angle, but then this is HEALTH we are talking about here – three shrewd, fearless visionaries who embrace change without a modicum of anxiety in the process. Make no mistake; this might be a very different offering to what previous DISCO albums have all been about, but the high-quality and standards remain firmly intact. By rights, on paper these songs should only work as self-contained singles and shouldn’t even be put together onto one album, but the band have done a sterling job in making it all work functionally and with a pragmatic mindset. Despite a couple of stylistic clashes here and there, DISCO4 :: Part I is a coherent, well-crafted and exciting experiment that paves the way for future DISCO works.

FORMAT//EDITIONS:
DIGITAL//VINYL(STANDARD BLACK/LTD BLUE)

UNBOXING VIDEO
TBA

SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES:
NONE

ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE:
https://found.ee/HEALTH_DISCO4



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user ratings (44)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

my 300th review! Let’s party.

Digging: Solstafir - Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

KillJester
October 15th 2020


17 Comments


REALLY liked CYBERPUNK 20.20. Pretty hype for this

Storm In A Teacup
October 15th 2020


30797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh fuckin shit. hell yeah it's out!!!

bloodshy
October 16th 2020


2625 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

neat, thanks for this review! i was curious what this was about

Digging: The Wytches - Three Mile Ditch

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

if you've followed the band's collab tracks over the last year, you'll have heard most of this already. that said, all the songs sewn together form a really, really well crafted record. it's surprising how cohesive it sounds because in my opinion, it shouldn't sound as synergistic as it does lol



also, "colors" is an absolute banger

bloodshy
October 16th 2020


2625 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

that's how i feel about the agnes obel - late night tales "collaboration". it's a mix of songs decades apart, and i literally had no idea it wasn't a fully original album until like six months of listening later when i was reading up on it. best mixtape ever

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

yeah, i mean thankfully i didn't jam a lot of these songs before actually listening to the album but even if you did i still think it brings a new context to them when you hear it all flowing together.

bloodshy
October 16th 2020


2625 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh shit, these are mostly new songs, aren't they? not remixes?

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Yeah, it’s not a remix album, it’s all brand new tracks performed by health and their chosen artists

bloodshy
October 16th 2020


2625 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, i misread that part of your review. very much enjoying this

Taxt
October 16th 2020


1427 Comments


Stoked to hear the new tracks, I've enjoyed pretty much all of the collabs they released in the past few years.

LifeFeedsOnLife
October 17th 2020


598 Comments


Dammit, Simon.. You're really making it hard for me to not like these guys.. lol. Good review, düd.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 17th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

thanks man. when and if the day comes health should do a crap album, i'll be the first to let people know. until then, i'll keep writing reviews that have them knocking this shit out of the park lol

DeadGuy
October 17th 2020


1048 Comments


Nice, I've been so busy with work, I've been out of the loop on new music coming out. Definitely about to check this out.

Egarran
October 17th 2020


19175 Comments


It's a skull! I thought it was a radar image at first

carry on

Digging: Akhlys - Melino

TVC15
October 17th 2020


10673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh shit this just reminded me this dropped

Digging: Laura Nyro - Eli and The 13th Confession

Imperial
October 18th 2020


1885 Comments


health and the soft moon holy shit this is gonna rule

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2020


16686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

@imerpial



It does. Best collab track here imo

ThyCrossAwaits
October 18th 2020


3523 Comments


Geez I expected more like a 3.4 not a 4.3 but ok

Y’all better not be lying to me

Digging: Undeath - Lesions of a Different Kind

Lord(e)Po)))ts
October 18th 2020


62255 Comments


Oh they are

Digging: MYSS KETA - IL CIELO NON E UN LIMITE



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