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HEALTH - Luminaire, London, 1/5/2008

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 20 / 4 / 2008

HEALTH - Luminaire, London, 1/5/2008


Chris O' Toole is impressed by both experimental Los Angeles' quartet HEALTH's force and volume at a show at the Luminaire in London

Never a dull night at the Luminaire. Perhaps London's finest stage of this size, the Kilburn venue attracts a discerning clientele who are usually rewarded with upcoming talent from embryonic genres. Today is no exception; with three bands -presented by music promoters Upset the Rhythm – all showing the value of youth and innovation in the creation of truly invigorating and cerebrally challenging music. First on the bill Pre. Incredibly this band contains Kevin Hendrick – an ex-member of indie-crooners Seafood - but their sound could not be more distant from his former life. Fronted by explosive, shrieking singer Akiko Matsuura –who strips to her underwear with very little provocation - the London band offer a distinctly Melt Banana tinted punk. With two bass players, the songs are short, sharp powder-kegs – a flash of dirty silver and off into the night. While their more extended pieces, i.e. over a minute in length, often hint of form and shape, the majority of their material is based around immediate, aggressive impact. 'Scenes from a 1963 Los Angeles Love-In' and 'Dude Fuk' are highlights later on, with Matsuura writhing on the floor, screaming hysterically. Incredible scenes. As though this weren't enough the next group, Skeletons and the King of All Cities, slip back in time to take the form of a hazily re-imagined 60's jam band. Frontman Matthew Douglas Mehlan plays a sax early on, but this is replaced with a guitar as the group thrash through some freeform, semi-improvised neo-funk, with dashes of electronics and broken synths, all kept on track with some ramshackle drumming from the rear. At the heart of the noise, however, are some incredibly danceable tunes, which catch the ear and bewitch it. Mehlan sings of goblins and fear, taunting the crowd, leaving them bemused but enthralled. They take in Zappa, Zorn and Sun Ra in single zones, crashing headfirst into oncoming traffic. Finally, the main event. The Los Angeles quartet follow a similar vein to what has come before, but decimate their competitors with sheer, knowing force. Alternately chanting, shouting and screaming front man Jacob Duzsik pummels the crowd into quivering submission. HEALTH's sound is simultaneously primitive and futuristic. Tribal drums operate with impeccable timing, forcing the band to gather speed throughout the set, building always to one inevitable crescendo. Only John Stanier, of Battles and formerly Helmet, can compete for sheer, controlled intensity when it comes to this sort of drumming, and it represents the beating heart of the band. Draped around this propulsion the three remaining members swap between guitar, vocal, bass and synth to add thrashes of colour to the mix. The Boredoms come to mind, but there is more raw power to HEALTH; nobody pauses for breath as the group's primal sound pours forth in a seemingly unstoppable torrent. Songs twist on a dime and head off in a totally different direction in moments, morphing and becoming unrecognizable in an instant. While most of the material is taken from eponymous debut album, a middle section of the set suggests a possible different direction. For a few fleeting moments the group allow more developed grooves to slip into their material, and allow momentum to develop of its own accord. While the present material jerks and bludgeons, there is a hint here the future could have more of a caressing tough love. Naturally there is no encore. HEALTH barely address the crowd throughout, save to detail their home town. The crowd has had their fill in any event. Three exquisite, divergent bands. One incredible performance.

Picture Gallery:-
HEALTH - Luminaire, London, 1/5/2008

HEALTH - Luminaire, London, 1/5/2008

Visitor Comments:-
866 Posted By: Anonymous, England on 02 Jun 2018
Remember being there but curious to know if the date you have in the title or the publication date was the date of the gig?

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HEALTH (2008)
Compellingly intense debut album from unpredictable and aggressive pioneers of the Los Angeles Underground scene, HEALTH

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