[Review] HEALTH’s 'DISCO4 :: PART I' Expands Sound With Collaborations While Breaking Genre Barriers
Industrial pop and dark electronic act HEALTH should be no stranger to anyone who’s been on a goth night dancefloor in the last several years. “Stonefist” (Death Magic, 2015) quickly became a club staple throughout the country, and their following album Slaves of Fear was one of the most impressive releases out of our scene in 2019. DISCO4 :: PART I, the accompanying sister album to Slaves of Fear, looks to say “Fuck 2020”, and adds a wide array of artists to their signature dark disco sound.
The album opens with new original solo track “Cyberpunk 18.104.22.168.” that doesn’t break any new sonic ground for HEALTH, but is an apt mission statement for things to come. Following this, they go full steam ahead and don’t let up until the end. Current HEALTH fans will recognize previously released joint tracks “BODY/PRISON” and “Judgment Night”, collaborations with Darksynth act Perturbator and hip-hop artist Ghostemane respectively. While they’re both a year old at the time of release, they’re both incredibly powerful diverse pieces and it’s nice to have them included within the greater body of work here.
When these combined efforts work, the payoff is immense. On “COLORS”, collaborators The Soft Moon add a much more mellow touch to HEALTH’s usual intensity while maintaining the danceability I’ve come to appreciate. “INNOCENCE” ups that intensity to 11 by adding the industrial/hardcore punk aggressiveness of Youth Code’s Sara Taylor, providing a dichotomy that just works.
Sometimes though, that dichotomy falls flat. Being a fan of both artists, I wanted Full of Hell collaboration “FULL OF HEALTH” to work, but feels like it alternates between a Full of Hell song and a HEALTH song rather than a single unit. JPEGMAFIA’s contribution “HATE YOU” feels like phoned in rapping over lackluster HEALTH-inspired production, a rare miss for both.
I’m still not sure what to make of 100 Gecs in any context, but they’re on here too.
While HEALTH themselves may be firmly planted in their sound, this new release allows them to branch out with surprising ease. There should be something for everyone, both old fans and new ones, as well as fans of a wide range of genres. Whether you’re into old school goth, hip-hop, or hardcore, there’s sure to be something you love here.
DISCO 4 :: PART I is available now on Bandcamp and all other major platforms.