Today's club hits are an exuberant collision of styles

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

So, following the release of the Klaxons' debut album Myths Of The Near Future it turns out their much-touted "new rave" doesn't have much in common with its smiley T-shirted, late-Eighties ancestor. Musically speaking, anyway. In fact there are precious few electronic sounds at all.

Not too much of a surprise, perhaps, given they're in essence a guitar/bass/drums outfit. Except that the album was produced by alternative clubland's remixers-of-the-moment Simian Mobile Disco, whose knack for combining rock's upstart urgency with bass-heavy techno-rave is much in demand. Their latest offering shows why, as Manchester rock hopefuls Keith have their tuneful, if unexceptional, new single "Hold That Gun" (Lucky Number) strapped to one of the Simian's trademark electro-bass rhythm tracks, with spectacular results.

Like fellow electro-disco alchemists LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, Simian Mobile Disco have their roots as much in rock as rave. Producers James Ford and James Shaw were members of psychedelic/ indie/dance act Simian, who split in 2005 having released an acclaimed, yet commercially disappointing, album We Are Your Friends. Their label, Virgin, apparently couldn't fathom their mix of styles, but did end up releasing a Daft Punk-like remix of Simian's single "Never Be Alone" by Parisian techno duo Justice.

A gloriously exuberant collision of styles, not only was it a huge club hit last year, it also proved the Gallic club scene had lost none of its wit or appeal. Justice haven't quite lived up to its promise, but their recent "Phantom Part 1", is Euro-disco on steroids and features on the up-for-it Ed Rec Vol. 2 (Ed Banger Records) compilation from the label run by Daft Punk manager, Pedro Winter.

It's no accident that Daft Punk's name has frequently cropped up since being referenced on LCD Soundsystem's "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House". Their last album, Human After All, may have been awful, but the duo's influence has never been greater. It's there in the Eighties synths and vocoder vocals which permeate Canadian duo MSTRKRFT's new album The Looks (Modular), while French maverick Joakim has tapped their spirit of invention on his Monsters & Silly Songs album (K7), a melange of new wave synth pop, post-rock ambience and skewed techno.

Of course, not everyone is dancing to the same beat. In fact, some people still aren't dancing at all if Clark's brooding Ted EP (Warp) is anything to go by. Complex, dark-hued electronica of a kind long familiar to Warp fans, its fascination is all in the details: beats reminiscent of skittering insect lifeforms and cryptic titles like "Mia Farrow", surely the least upbeat tribute to a Hollywood star ever recorded.

There's a similarly foreboding atmosphere to the dubstep creations of Bromley pirate radio DJ Distance, whose "My Demons" (Planet Mu) offers a vision of south east London buzzing with menace and paranoia, equal parts JG Ballard and dystopian video game fantasy. Berliner Stefan Betke, is another dub obsessive, but the minimalist sound universe of layered click tracks and subliminal bass pulses he creates on Pole's Steingarten (~scape), isn't nearly as doom-laden. Some of it is even danceable.

With dance music fragmenting into ever more esoteric genres, there's sadly precious little overlap between the near-scientific approaches of producers such as Distance and post-rave magpies such as Klaxons. Occasionally, though, a track comes along which seems unaware such boundaries exist, as on a new remix of Longcut's Candi Staton cover "You Got The Love" (Melodic).

A track whose history parallels contemporary dance music - released in 1986 by Candi Staton, it was bootlegged by The Source (aka acid house DJ John Truelove) in 1991 and went on to become a rave-era pop hit - the Manchester rock trio's raw-edged version has in turn been erased by remixers Shadow Dancer, ending up all but obliterated by a mix of grinding dubstep bass and swarming synthesisers.

At once exhilarating and near-impossible to categorise, it's a timely reminder of the remixer's art. It also, like all the best remixes, makes Staton's song sound more alive than ever.

Comments