May 3, 2007

A Glimpse Into the Future

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In J.G. Ballard’s collection of short stories Myths Of The Near Future, humankind’s fate looks pretty bleak: civil war breaks out in the United Kingdom, families are built and children are born without their parents ever meeting, and even robots can experience loneliness. It’s the ultimate tale of a dystopia where one individual’s alienation from the human contact they desperately rely on for well-being is so great that glimpses of what life could’ve been, or was, are so rare that they are treasured in the same way as diamonds and gold.
This Klaxons album of the same name adopts the same spaced-out motif, but its message is fortunately not as depressing, though it is still lonely. Rather, it twists pop music’s most eternal topic —love — into a strange futuristic vision where lovers crash into each other in the galaxies, ride on Rubix cubes through infinity and throughout time, encountering strange creatures like Cyclops the Four Horsemen of 2012.
The vision in this album is reminiscent of David Bowie’s future-oriented early albums, and has the same psychedelic qualities like Jimi Hendrix’s song “Spanish Castle Magic.” Where it differs is its consciousness of both contemporary political and musical happenings. How can musicians deal with the alienation of modern life? The answer lies in finding what people are interested in, and then bringing it to them.
The thing most people look for today in an age where buying albums has become all but a relic of the past is a charismatic performance where strong musicians play songs that encourage dancing. The Klaxons started off, and remain, a rave band; their earliest gigs were in the back rooms of Ibiza clubs, playing to dead rooms of exhausted partygoers, and now their shows are selling out small clubs around the world.
Most of the songs on this album are the same tempo as electronica songs, and they never let up, changing keys and transitioning between verses and chorus with the ease of an experienced DJ. Many of them follow consistent patterns, beginning with the sound that can only be compared to a high-pitched burglary alarm, or a screaming firetruck sounding off its siren through city streets. The intention may be to get our attention; once this is accomplished, the quartet adds its more acoustic qualities, like blazing guitar riffs and thumping bass lines. The Klaxons, similarly, are blessed with three members with wonderful voices; they can harmonize scat-style fills as well as rapidly delivered visions of life in the future.
More than anything, the album’s title lives up to expectations: This really is music from the future. Something seriously ambitious is afoot with a band like The Klaxons; hopefully band and audience alike will have the patience to grasp what they deliver next, even if the news from the future isn’t the cheeriest.