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Health Brings Dance Beats and Noise to The Bowery Ballroom

September 25th, 2009

Health – The Bowery Ballroom – September 24, 2009

HealthHealth is well on its way, rising to the top of the L.A. noise scene with an original and enduring sound. Honing its performances and even recording an album in the off hours at the legendary alternative space the Smell, the quartet blends experimental noise and tribal percussion rhythm with loud and quiet moments of melodic brilliance. Just when the line of melody becomes familiar, they destroy it with brief explosive walls of noise or short bursts of distorted screams. In a truly impressive display of coordination, they stop on a dime to change the rhythm entirely. It leaves you wondering if the song is over or if it’s just the calm before the storm.

In contrast to Health’s recorded albums, what you notice live is Jacob Duzsik’s vocal element. The angelic—almost chanting—style he creates on top of the ever-changing rhythms is a high, delicate chorus that fades out, holding the disparate, jarring guitar effects together. At times the guitar sounds like a steel drum, a high tinny bell, a Caribbean sound inexplicably played in time with the driving primitive beats. Part of what makes the live performance so interesting is you can’t identify who is playing which sounds, except for the insistent pounding drums, and the guitars and bass make noises no one’s ever heard. Health throws off expectations by crossing dance beats with pummeling bursts of noise. The band spawns a swarming mass of bodies throwing themselves at one another. They just can’t help it: I blame Health and their beautiful noise. —Jason Dean