It was the NME who truculently branded Nu Rave as the “fucking albatross around the neck of the most thrilling and visionary band Britain’s had in more than a decade” before inviting Klaxons to headline a series of gigs in 2007 collectively known as the “NME Indie Rave Tour”. Although their heroically idiosyncratic début Myths Of The Near Future won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, regrettably it serves as the soundtrack to the laughable excuse for a ‘00s subculture swathed in fluorescent footless tights and discharging glowstick juice.
And so it was that the band were left with challenge of proving themselves to be a credible pop act, separate from and undefined by Spinal Tap-esque subgenres in a manner other than outlawing glowsticks at gigs. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, author of The Futurist Manifesto, the text from which the band derived their name, boldly claimed to want “no part of… the past”. The Futurists championed originality and innovation, all daubed with “the smear of madness”. It’s an ethos that pervades the band’s music, so to be instructed by their label to abandon the original version of their follow up album because it was deemed “too experimental” must have smarted. Nevertheless, the final product is mottled with influences ranging from prog and dubstep, to dance and folk, both melodic and violent.
A screwball, mythic macabre that envelopes the entire album. Klaxons have been injected with a chaos that could only have been aided by Ross Robinson, the man responsible for producing such thrash-inducing luminaries as Korn, Slipknot, At the Drive-In and Blood Brothers. The title track mashes up a shuddering downward spiral of a guitar riff with a chilling piano line that spawns a mess of feedback, kick drums and gang shouts. There are nuances of “From Atlantis to Interzone”, yet more multifaceted, less easy to imitate by anyone with an old Yamaha keyboard and two index fingers.
The ringing, fuzz-flecked guitars continue in lead single ‘Flashover’, which alternates between jerky, crashing choruses and baroque, tinkling piano interludes that evoke Vic Mizzy (the Hollywood composer credited with the Addams Family theme tune) levels of burlesque doom. This sense of the ominous and eccentric is manifest again in ‘Cyberspace’; gravelly bass, helter-skelter melody, impelling guitars and chanting. It’s indisputable that the more schizophrenic moments on the album are also its peaks; a frantic pace and a measure of Lynchian sonic quirks are what make Surfing The Void most compelling.
Though the album may be markedly heavier in tone than its predecessor, it still maintains the band’s brand of fabulous whimsy and ridiculous lyrics. Bubbling bass lines, otherworldly melodies and a passing resemblance to ‘Enjoy the Silence’, ‘Venusia’ is named after an ancient Greek city dedicated to Aphrodite after the Trojan War, and “Parhelion”, a mystical marriage of feedback, and watery vocals is an ode to the phenomenon that produces a luminous halo on either side of the sun. Surfing The Void comprises glittering blackness, forceful throbbing, the tribal, the psychedelic. Its impact is less instantaneous, less accessible than the band’s début, but it could be considered not merely a marked expansion upon Myths Of The Near Future, but a testament to Klaxons’ capacity to escape their scenester stigma and solidify their status as a pop act deserving not of ridicule but respect.