"It was a potent package of sensual aural violence, a riot hiding a ballet dancer, a supermodel with a bloody knife in her hand, grotesque body builders selling flowers."
James Crooks was regrettably amateur. His banter was embarrassingly awkward and tone deaf and his song writing was tepid at best. Listless sequences cobbled together from a soundboard of popular drum/bass lines were "enhanced" by his baffling use of analogue noises such as a floor tom. This union was clunky and mixed badly, giving everything the unmistakeable aroma of being over-cooked and ill-conceived. The less-is-more approach would've worked wonders for this set.
In stark contrast was Marcus Whale — a unique presence fronted by a sure-footed natural. His banter wasn't perfect, but a healthy dose of breezy charm was enough to let it slide. There was a Bjork vibe underneath his material, with thick muscular rhythms delivered by twin drum kits underpinning his ethereal free-flowing voice. His thematic focus was political and sexual in nature, and his cheerfulness belied the important issues simmering underneath the surface. It got a good response and segued nicely into Health.
Slowly but surely Health has progressed towards a dance outfit. There's a pitch black core pulsing with tribal savagery that's key to the LA group's sound, but more and more it's being coated with velvet tones and glossy textures, culminating in a Pet Shop Boys via Nine Inch Nails mutant. This gig showcased Death Magic, the group's third and most accessible album. Although they weren't shy about their harsh-noise past they tended to focus on the present. Nihilistic party starter Die Slow arrived early, and its evolutionary descendant, USA Boys, capped off the main set. The latter in particular was slick and magnificent, a glistening venal industrial ballad for a new generation.
Fierce discharges of screeching dissonance and chaos punctuated glassy passages of gothic pop. Jake Duzsik's ethereal voice cut through the noise, almost angelic, not unlike Annie Lennox slowed down to 16RPM. It was a potent package of sensual aural violence, a riot hiding a ballet dancer, a supermodel with a bloody knife in her hand, grotesque body builders selling flowers.
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