Personnel: Brian J. Sulpizio (vocals, guitar); Gillian Lisee, Emme Williams (vocals); Ryley Walker, Matt Schneider (acoustic guitar); Jeff Kimmel (bass clarinet); Ben Boye (keyboards); Frank Rosaly (drums).
Audio Mixer: Brian J. Sulpizio.
No Scare marks the Wichita Recordings debut of Health&Beauty, an experimental rock project led by guitarist/songwriter Brian J. Sulpizio (Ryley Walker), who'd already released a handful of albums under the moniker. With keyboardist Ben Boye (Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Angel Olsen) and drummer Frank Rosaly (Peter Brötzmann, Joan of Arc) on board, the group began operating as an official trio in 2013, and this is the lineup's first LP. Each member's performance chops, as well as their interpretive instincts, are on display on No Scare, which manages to be catchy, improvisational, a little proggy, and somewhat rustic all at once. One of the mellower tracks, "Asunción & Dayanara," is full of such contrasts, offering tender vocals alongside sweet harmonies and bell tones. They're joined by fuzzy guitar, and drums that render complex, syncopated rhythms, if at a modest volume. Everything in balance, the rhythm section drops out for passing moments of clarity, while tricky polyrhythms close the song. The brief "Back to the Place" opens the album with a bit of everything: tempo changes, a melodic groove, dissonance, and a rock-out. Elsewhere, "Beyond Beyoncé" is a blues jam that has Sulpizio, who lists Sonic Youth and Dirty Projectors among the band's many influences, channeling David Longstreth on vocals. The more even "Im Yr Baby (For Aaron Swartz)" is like a picturesque train ride along humming effects and steel guitar. Meandering but rhythmically and melodically engaging throughout, the set comes in at just under 30 minutes, which is probably just about right for an album that's relatively dense with notes. Health&Beauty sound like a group well into a long career here, an auspicious trait for what is essentially a debut. ~ Marcy Donelson