Thursday, 3 October 2013

Review: HEALTH at Berghain, back in June

Seeing HEALTH play for the first time several years ago in New York, everyone was talking about their amazing new drummer, BJ Miller. At the time his astoundingly loud, hard playing over-dominated their live shows, his style in the tradition of the best post-hardcore drummers.

To older music fans, the rest of their music therefore disappointed by not leaning more towards the industrial noise that this drumming would suggest, failing to bridge the gap between modern experimentalism and their late 80s forefathers.

But of course, this probably isn't what HEALTH were actually trying to achieve, and now with Miller's drumming fully integrated into the band as a whole, it is easier to understand more fully what Health are doing sonically, and their music then becomes more impressive in its breadth.

And once it is understood that when bassist John Famigiletti thrashes around the stage, his voice or bass synthesized through pedals, it is not the intention to hit the audience with a wall of noise, then their music comes into sharper focus, as the effect of this processed, layered sound is more subtle than that.

In general, the sound at this Berghain headline show finally allowed the textures and full range of frequencies of Jake Duczik's guitar and effects to be heard, along with new vocal melodies, although Jupiter Keyes keyboards did seem lost in the mix at times. Their rhythms and structures still don't move everyone, but it is hard not to respect their musical adventurism and passion.

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