With its jet-black Bauhaus T-shirt and a cap that bears three words in red reverse capital letters, health the band is not your typical LA band. But the four members of Loma Vista’s HEALTH wouldn’t want it any other way.
HEALTH’s dark, abrasive sound and aesthetic initially gained the band some traction in the hipster underground, but their edgy music also caught the attention of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. He invited them on tour, despite the fact that he knew they wouldn’t appeal to the crowds. Nevertheless, he did so out of the kindness and generosity of his heart, as well as his appreciation for their uncompromising work.
The band toured the country in support of their self-titled debut album in 2008, and the experience gave them a taste of how it was to play for the mainstream. Then came 2009’s Get Color, which delved deeper into their music without losing its raw edge.
That album also gave birth to a cult-following video for the song “Die Slow,” which features the band clad in dark clothing and squatting on a slick tile floor as blood slowly drips down their bodies. It’s a jarringly beautiful clip, made all the more impactful by the fact that the band didn’t shoot it on film. Instead, it was filmed by director Jake Famiglietti on a digital camera, which makes the whole thing look like an experiment gone wrong.
When the heaviness of the song combines with its lyrics about a woman being locked up in a psychiatric ward, it’s hard to take your eyes off the screen. It’s an intense, hypnotic experience that makes you feel both engrossed and frightened, and it perfectly captures the dark atmosphere of HEALTH’s live shows.
After the release of their next album, a remix collection called HEALTH//DISCO that compiled reworks from the likes of Pictureplane, Nosaj Thing and Crystal Castles, many fans assumed the group would stick with dance music. But a few months later, the band released Death Magic, an album that showed HEALTH were more than just a noise act.
HEALTH’s latest album, DISCO4: Part II, is an essential chapter in the story of one of the most influential bands to emerge from this new generation of alternative music. It’s a record that looks beyond the band itself and into the current void of human existence. It’s a bold, uncompromising record that proves HEALTH are on the cutting edge of music.