Saturday, December 1, 2007

best album that defines a genre that applies to only one album

has there ever been as absurd of a genre as "nu-rave"? seriously, when has one album ever warranted the coining of an entirely new style of music? freak folk, post-rock, even slavic stomp - multiple albums were recorded by multiple bands before such labels were generated, but, apparently, myths of the near future, the debut album from klaxons, was revolutionary enough to bypass the necessary maturation and refining most new genres endure before popularization. on the other hand, most other genres don't have NME rooting for them every inch of the way. thanks to that farce of a publication, myths of the near future, which, admittedly, is a great album, was imbued with a significance and importance that far outstripped its beginnings, inventive though they were. however ridiculous the term "nu-rave" (which, for most intents and purposes, is synonymous with klaxons) seems, myths of the near future is, truly, a bold album, in more ways than one. music generally repeats itself every twenty years, but, by jumping the gun by a decade, and resurrecting rave before it had been outgrown, klaxons not only earned themselves a legion of fans and the eternal brownnosing praise of the new musical express, but copped britain's most prestigious musical prize while they were at it.

harsh words aside, i really like myths of the near future. cataclysmic, cacophonous, and with a generous dose of geek, klaxons's debut impressed me more with their post-apocalyptic disco than any similarities to rave music. the term "nu-rave" (or "new rave") was coined in 2006 by klaxons's then-label head, joe daniel, though it was wantonly appropriated and abused by nme, popularizing the term so crudely that klaxons themselves disdain any honor the phrase "nu-rave pioneers" earns them. in fact, on more than one occasion, they have referred to it as a "joke that’s got out of hand." unfortunately, thanks to nme, klaxons are now indelibly tarred with the nu-rave brush, though, ultimately, it doesn't matter what klaxons are called by others; myths from the near future speaks with its own voice.

strikingly creative and inventive, myths of the near future seems like far too mature of a release for such a young band - lyrically and musically forward-thinking, klaxons's sound seems destined to outlive the band themselves, and we'll probably be blasting "magick" in our underground bunkers when the world ends. (the band's wikipedia page discusses klaxons's "magic-realist" themes, especially the preponderance of references to aleister crowley, an early 20th century occulist, with much more confidence than i.) in choosing myths of the near future as their title, klaxons perfectly expressed our russian roulette future; post-apocalyptic soothsayers, predicting plagues and wars over machine gun drums and air raid sirens. whether or not we manage to lay complete waste to our planet in the near future, we'll always have klaxons to dance to in our full-body radiation suits.

even when klaxons turn down their fire & brimstone predictions, as on "isle of her," myths's midpoint, they lose none of their ominous aura. a supposed rowing song, "isle of her" is actually a dirge, swaying with lurching harmonies, its percussion clanking like ankle chains. while "isle of her" is klaxons only slow song, it is so successful that one wishes they delved into it more often. klaxons's clear forte is their love for cacophonous intensity. "magick," a highlight on an album full of them, combines both, pairing threatening synth and guitar lines, blisteringly ominous, with a diametric bridge. songs like "gravity's rainbow" and "golden skans" accomplish this as well, but "magick" in particular burns with a fierce drama, surpassed in fury only by "four horesemen of 2012," a brutal reminder of how close humanity is to extinction.

myths of the near future is a warning, but it seems unlikely that the band expected many people to take it at face value; after all, it's a dance album, so let's get dancing. i was never into the rave scene, so i can't vouch for its similarities to it, but what myths does have is ridiculously catchy bass lines (as on "forgotten works") and tons of singable harmonies (as on pretty much every song). it is an outstanding album in its own right, the more so because it is literally a trailblazing one, and a most promising debut. of course, they may well fall victim to nme's gruesome betrayal tactics, or release a shitty sophomore album, but myths of the near future stands on its own feet as one of the year's best.

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