No matter how you approach it, Health's Get Color is not an easy album to remix. It's a brittle slab, bristling with noise and few moments that explicitly lend themselves to the dance floor. The closest they come is "Die Slow," but that's immediately followed by "Nice Girls," another one of the band's down-the-rabbit hole drum-led excursions. Attempting to remix this album is kind of like trying to find a pleasant way to tie a pretty ribbon around a nail bomb.
It's telling, therefore, that the remixers tapped for Disco2 seem less concerned with repackaging Health's blasts of Boredoms-tinged noise rock as slick, club-ready chunks of dance music. The end result of this collection is a re-contextualization of Health as a band, a "what if?" scenario that almost presents the Los Angeles quartet as some lost synth-based group who employed ethereal, Cocteau Twins-like vocals. It's some straight up bizzaro-world type stuff, for all you comic-book fans.
When these remixes succeed, it’s when they take the original song and stay faithful to certain aspects of it that make it distinct, and luckily, the ratio of hits to misses leans heavily in favor of hits. CFCF’s take on the pulsing “Before Tigers” amplifies the melodic aspects of the original’s waves of noise using shimmering, almost tropical synths. Gold Panda’s approach to the same song emphasizes the dynamic contrasts that the original takes, its journeys from soft to loud, and filters it through a loping IDM beat. The remixes that draw more influence from synth-dominated hip-hop are massive hits, whether it be Javelin’s supremely funky club-rap version of “In Heat” or Salem’s futuristic Houston version of “In Violet.” If someone dropped some chopped-and-screwed vocals over that one, it wouldn’t be terribly inappropriate.
The two marquee names on this collection, Tobacco and Crystal Castles, get some of the meatier tracks to mess around with. Tobacco throws a Black Moth Super Rainbow mask over “Die Slow,” offering his characteristicly scuzzy keyboards and drum machines that sound like they’re about five minutes away from falling apart. Crystal Castles, the veterans of the Health-remix scene, pull the old bait-and-switch with their version of “Eat Flesh.” At first it sounds like the most sedate thing the duo has ever done, but then the spazz-out drums and haunted house keyboards offer a square right hook to the listener’s jaw.
None of the failures on this album are particularly egregious. If anything, they’re examples of just missing the target. The omission of “We Are Water” is a little curious, considering it’s one of the songs on the original album that would actually make sense to send to more dance-oriented territory, with its rapid-fire hi-hats and actual, consistent beat. Also, despite two great attempts, neither Tobacco nor Pictureplane manage to nail the rusty malice of “Die Slow.” Blondes is probably the biggest offender here: The Brooklyn duo’s version of “Nice Girls” is a remix in name only, abandoning nearly every element of the source material and spreading it out over an excessive eight-minute time period.
Leave it to Health themselves to nearly upstage a few of the contributors with their lone new song here. The Alan Moulder-produced “USA Boys” sits at the beginning of the track list and acts as a context-setter for the rest of the album. It’s the most explicitly electronic-sounding thing they’ve ever produced, and it offers the exciting prospect of what it would be like if they got their hands on other people’s material the way they let others get on theirs. Which is basically the whole point of this album: exploring prospects that might not get investigated otherwise. Both of Health’s Disco albums offer a third dimension to the band's songs, exposing a different heart behind the surging chaos of the source material.
The members of Los Angeles noise outfit Health have a comfortable system going: Make an album, then tap esteemed artists and producers to remix every song on the LP. It's proven to be an excellent way to spotlight the band's affinity for intricate synths and dance rhythms. In 2008, Health released Disco, a remix album of their self-titled debut; its successor, Disco2, is a remix album of 2009's Get Color. Disco2 features remixes from Gold Panda, Crystal Castles, Javelin, CFCF and others, plus new track "USA Boys," a spacey, fidgety number that's right at home among the remixes.
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