Album: Klaxons, Surfing the Void, Polydor
Klaxons are back – but has the nu-rave crowd moved on?
Sunday 22 August 2010
I spent the summer of 1988 – the "Summer of Acieed" – working on a building site. I wasn't a raver: the one rave I attended left me depressed at the gangsterism and naked money-ripping around the scene. I wasn't a typical builder either, being a goth kid trying to stay afloat in the holidays while studying French and philosophy at uni. But I was amazed, every day, at the number of my fellow workers who were both: wedge-haired casuals who'd roll into work each morning still saucer-eyed from a night at Shoom.
If there was one crucial difference between old rave and nu rave, other than that of scale, it's that the main participants in the latter were philosophy students rather than narcotically altered navvies. Klaxons' valiant attempt to square that circle – or rather, to big fish little fish cardboard box that circle – resulted in a rightly acclaimed, Mercury-winning debut album, a record which tried to reference JG Ballard and make you dance at the same time, and was more successful than most of their peers in blending the cerebral and the physical (you didn't hear words such as "exponential" and "Sargasso" at a Hadouken! gig).
Three years is an eternity in pop culture, and the shallow tide that bore them ashore has receded, leaving them high and dry (albeit still with a major record deal). Meanwhile, successive waves of bands – Friendly Fires, Foals, Delphic – have picked up the indie-dance baton. Whether anyone's still listening is debatable. Nevertheless, it's been time well-spent.
Surfing the Void is a denser, more complex and intense experience than its predecessor, as well as being noisier, more distorted and more mangled. Lead single "Echoes" and second track "The Same Space" are both reminiscent of the aforementioned Delphic, which may sound unfair as Klaxons were there first. Then again, Joy Division and Kate Bush were both first to the beat they use on "Venusia", so it's all relative.
It's an album which peaks late, with the elegiac "Future Memories" and the almost Cubist angularity of "Cypherspeed". It's also an album which, heard out of context in pretty much any era, would be an ear-jolting, borderline mind-blowing listen. But pop can be cruel.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Touch-screen Teletubbies say hello: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are back, now with smart technology
Black Angel: Long lost Star Wars precursor to be made into crowdfunded feature film
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers