Klaxons: Myths Of The Future
New rave founders put some colour back into indie’s pale exteriorMore on Klaxons
Back in early 2006, Klaxons announced themselves with a series of parties which, in a sea of hyper-coloured sweat, washed the standardised hand-stamp-and-plastic-pint-pot gig from the agenda of thousands of excited kids. Their first taste of a new kind of rave transformed them into genre-bending zealots screaming for attention. Little did the band know what a beast they’d created in new rave: it soon galloped ahead of them, threatening to leave them watching from the recording studio as it tore across the land in a psychotropic blur of all-night madness and chemical breakfasts. But, where a thousand lesser party bands were swallowed in a psychedelic paint job of fluoro, MDMA and glowsticks, Klaxons’ dark hearts would burn holes through a million smiley-print windsheeters.
Reaching far deeper into the dark than your average raver could ever witness at the bottom of his weekend K-hole, ‘Myths Of The Near Future’ is charged with the same spirit which fuelled legendary rave pranksters The KLF’s period of pop subversion. Like those predecessors, these boys are bigger than the gimmicky fashions which people seek to define them by; they’re here to fuck around with pop music, and no faddish formulae, not even the ones they helped create, are going to constrain them.
Nearly a decade ago, rave died as the bloated bastard was kicked from its nightclub residency by a generation of indie kids with an urge to pull the dancefloor from beneath the feet of twats with baggy trousers. Klaxons have resurrected not rave’s shoe-gazing trance sound (which, let’s face it, was always just prog with a beat), but its manic spirit (something betrayed long ago by the dope-chuffing trustafarian psychedelic-trance twits, who until recently were the last of the ravers). Capturing this errant phantom in a pincer movement of both pop music’s self-control and punk rock’s roaring passion, Klaxons have achieved both brevity and breadth. Fuck genres, fuck trends, fuck history, this band are only concerned with reshaping guitar music... forever.
In just over 35 minutes, ‘Myths...’ tears apart not only the blueprints studied by a scene over the last 12 months in order to build a glowing overpass from Glasgow’s art house tenements to London squats, but also the flesh of the Earth’s landscape, leaping from heaven-scratching mountain peaks to dark city backstreets in a flash. One moment Klaxons are lending their blood-boiling guitars and serotonin-chugging sirens to Grace’s pure pop ’90s dance smash ‘Not Over Yet’, the next drawing a burning line in the sky between Nostradamus, Dizzee Rascal and Sex Pistols on the psycho-apocalyptic ‘Four Horsemen Of 2012’. Taking us on a paranormal journey through the hypnotised mantra of ‘Magick’, via the timelord booze-cruise terrace-chant of ‘Totem On The Timeline’ and the volatile genius of gonzo riot-rave classic ‘Atlantis To Interzone’, they’re rewriting popular music as they go along.
Jamie, Simon and James aren’t the first group of guitar kids to dive into dance culture. Where 20 years ago The Stone Roses’ ecstasy-fuelled rave grandstanding was supplemented by their history as a Johnny Marr-inflected indie rock band, Klaxons cast a glance at the past, grounding ‘Myths Of The Near Future’’s vanguard tendencies within a grand history of British pop eccentricity.
Never daring to stand still, this record dances alongside the strange landscapes of melody, dirge and oddity which were built into the pop lexicon by Damon Albarn’s ceaseless 15-year writing career. Where once harmonious melody and grimy fuzzcore existed only at polar points of the musical spectrum, both Blur and Gorillaz have seen them learn to sit side by side – and the shadows of Albarn’s idiosyncratic touch are all over Klaxons’ debut. ‘Modern Life Is Ravish’ apparently – the godly ‘Golden Skans’ is ‘London Loves’ worshipping at a tin-foil altar, while ‘As Above So Below’ may well have escaped from ‘Think Tank’’s colourful off-cuts. Still, although they may be picking up Damon’s baton of pop alchemy – a desire to pull melodious nuggets from thick swathes of dark noise – Klaxons are charging towards an apocalyptic finishing line which is all their creation.
Today this country is blessed with many poets of the mundane, from Arctic Monkeys to The View to The Twang, but Klaxons are different – self-styled prophets of the insane. Magic, the Cyclops, ecstasy, Buzz Aldrin, sunken cities, hypnosis, Aleister Crowley, unicorns and time-travel... These are the things which concern this record. “There’s a half-man, half-horse who still runs through my thoughts as he rides on a flame in the sky”, they wail on ‘Four Horsemen Of 2012’. ‘The View From The Afternoon’? Fuck that. This is the view from the afterlife. From the devil’s shoulder swoops a brutish big-beat drum-loop to announce ‘Two Receivers’, a half-paced, yearning song led by an eerie chorus of Druids. ‘Isle Of Her’ is a Gregorian cyberman funeral march, while the glorious ‘Forgotten Works’ may be Brian Eno’s lost Apocalypto soundtrack. No matter how weird or intense things get, however, Klaxons’ twisted pop sensibility is never forgotten. And on ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ it reaches its maniac apex, as Sparks rip into Donna Summer with hollow guitars, melting synths and a laser bow and arrow.
In 2001, a thrillingly brief record, largely built around previously-heard songs was released by a gang of young men who shared a common vision and an iconic aesthetic which clobbered through the ceiling of the underground and crawled out onto the high streets of the mainstream. Whether Klaxons will reshape our world into a fluorescent myth-tropolis as successfully as The Strokes turned the mono-tune remains to be seen, but their debut has the anatomy necessary to change the course of a generation.
Unlike ‘Is This It’, the roots of ‘Myths…’ do not stem from the polluted grace of the 21st century city. Nor are they in the Day-Glo bedsits, designer drugs and guestlist raves of Shoreditch. They’re in the pages of pop’s eccentric history, from which it both burns and borrows. This is no blitzkrieg dance record, but a debut album of astonishing variety and focus; a Technicolor car crash of the mythological and the space-aged. It’s a unique, disorientating manifesto for the future of music – rammed with a millennia’s-worth of ideas. But, whether it’s being blared across a sweat-stacked inner city rave or accompanying the setting sun over Glastonbury’s Green Fields, when ‘Atlantis To Interzone’’s sirens begin to blare – this remarkable record will make perfect, beautiful sense.
Somewhere in between this life and the next, from the scattered shards of the past and of the future, Klaxons have built a magical and dangerous world all of their own and now, by the grace of God, it is ours as well.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday