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DISCO John Doran , June 13th, 2008 00:00


So by now you are aware of The Smell, the Los Angeles art space/studio/gig venue from which emanate the evil sounds of bands such as Health and No Age and their all-age, free gigs. It's heartening to see some good music coming out of the centre of such a shitty city. (It looks like Warrington with palm trees; it is twice as depressing and smells three times as bad.) Instead of the postcard punk and moronic sun bleached hair metal of The Strip, we have a genuinely meritocratic, self-supporting, revolutionary and exciting scene which has evolved from the pure noise and is retracing its steps slowly back towards melody and rhythm. Health first came to prominence in the UK after sharing a split single with the much hyped but nowhere near as interesting Crystal Castles. Their own self-titled album released earlier this year on Love Pump showcased their amazing talent for marshalling swathes of white noise (all generated by guitar and fx rather than keyboards) into tightly bound loops underpinned by the sort of tribal drumming that typified very early Killing Joke and This Heat. These rhythms were made all the more potent by being recorded on pre-WWII ribbon microphones built by the BBC which tape everything in extreme clarity. This and the high, brick lined, vaulted roof of The Smell made for an intoxicating pulse which occasionally crackled with disco energy. Perhaps this, their association with Crystal Castles and the fact they count a sizeable amount of neo-ravers in their audience, makes the idea of a remix album unsurprising.

’Triceratops’ (there are two Acid Girls and one CFCF remixes here) retains its furious booming and hissing percussive force, complete with the band’s trademark dead-eyed, neo-Gregorian chanting but added into the mix are swathes of squelching acid build. The switch into full throttle acid electro is hard to spot but it leaves you feeling run over. Like any good remix album (i.e. hardly any of the fuckers) it doesn’t lurch from one genre to another, doesn’t give any time over to lazy, rehashing that bear little or no resemblance to the original and almost feels like a mix in its own right. The Steinski-like cut n’paste collage of ’Lost Time’ is more of a re-edit than a remix but still pulls new grooves and textures out of the original. The most easily recognized song here will be ’Crimewave’ the Crystal Castles split, and it should be mentioned that this is the least enjoyable track, sounding cheap and perfunctory in this company. Immediately afterwards is the Narctrax remix of ’Heaven’ which shows how the building blocks of vicious noise can be used to build a towering structure of aggressive acid electro in the vein of Digitalism or Simian Mobile Disco. Elsewhere strands and threads of darkwave/EBM, acid house, are woven into the whole but never at the expense of the overall arc of this excellent album.