The world could end this Friday and whilst most people rush around getting their last minute xmas shopping sorted out deep thinkers sit in caves or wander into the desert muttering about prophecies and the end of time or new beginnings.
Many bury their head in the sand and ignore famines, floods, corporate takeovers, the loss of freedom, school shootings, dark behaviour by the establishment, the eternal war and the clash of idealogy and hope for the best.
Some bands, though, exist beyond this circus.
With a fierce intelligence and a thirst for esoteric knowledge that matches a music that is visceral and almost spiritual in its primal spirit Killing Joke are like no other band. Their current album MMX11Â is number 2 in the Louder Than War albums of the year and is a dark cloud of prophecy and truth telling and a Â brilliant work.
The band came out of punk and then set out on one of the most remarkable and idiosyncratic journeys ever. Their new album is a dense and dark work that manages to combine their trademark relentless guitars, pounding tribal funk rhythm section and dark and powerful message with moments of rare beauty. Coupled with this is a career spanning film which is part documentary and part celebration of this unique band that deals in the myths and legends that swirl around this most idiosyncratic of bands.
MMX11 is an end of time album that somehow finds moments of optimism in the downward swirl of the planet.Â Finding hope in the apocalypse the album could be their masterpiece. Itâs a work that captures many of the traits that marked them out from their inception in 1979 in Notting Hill, London when they seem to arrive fully formed with a sound that was totally original- the result of four very different, amorphous, fiercely intelligent individuals combining into a whole. When the classic four gather to play together a voodoo occupies the room in a way that few other bands can.
Releasing a series of dark, apocalyptic, shamanic records since the late seventies they have combined disco and funk and a shamanic wisdom with the dark side of the punk fallout.
Their influence has been enormous- with an unlikely roll call of musicians taking their cues from the band from Nirvana to most modern American metal to many DJs and dance music mavericks- few of them, though, come close to the bandâs innate power.
When their original line up of Jaz Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Big Paul reconvened 2008 after working together intermittingly that aformentioned strange voodoo again filled the room. Individually they have a power but together they have something sulphurous and powerful that few bands can match.
The classic line upâs extra curricular activities, that include conducting orchestras, producing multi million selling bands, recording Arabic musicians are about as far away as you can get from the band themselves.
When they reconvene something very different comes from the 4 unique personalities. Killing Joke are not an average band with an average agenda, they lock the door and let the ritual commence. Anything could happen.
Frontman Jaz Coleman is a fiercely intelligent and quite dangerous individual who stares you in the eye and cackles the death rattle cackle of a man whose wild and unfettered thinking is getting proven right as he marvels at his unique bandâs chemistry. There is an end of the a world coming and he’s been singing about it for decades.
âKilling Joke is a dark and beautiful playground.Â It has the complete honesty of being able to say literally anything you feel like. Itâs an amoral place. There are no boundaries. We can see each other as we really are, nothing is really planned. Everything goes. We argue constantly. the album was draining to make and that’s what makes it work.â
2012 is the perfect year for Killing Joke to be releasing an album that is as dense and dark as the surrounding swirls of madness in the world.
In a time when the news is fast forward and the world seems to be descending into madness and chaos who is better than Killing Joke to reflect this.
MMX11Â a dense and multi layered work, Killing Joke have never sounded so intense, the songs are great slabs of sound, a death disco with huge slabs of guitar that soundtrack these dangerous times.
Jaz Coleman is a remarkable individual, he lives on a small island in the Pacific, three hours flight from New Zealand, where they have banned mobile phone because âthe signals affect the beesâ, he conducts orchestras and hasÂ been chosen as Composer in Residence for the European Union where he will be commissioned to write music for special occasions. Â He also records Arabic music in Cairo. An intellectual on a dark and dangerous quest for the truth, Coleman deals in both the esoteric and the truth, he is about the power of nature and the responsibility of the human race. His conversation is peppered with history, religion, philosophy, madness and ancient and modern theories of the beyond.
Killing Joke, for him, is a far from his outside activities.
âItâs completely different thing to the classical entity. When Iâm conducting my mind is on fire, I have to anticipate everything, conducting orchestras is a more cerebral process, itâs mathematical. With Killing Joke youâre trying to get into a state of frenzy. They are different mediums- they are both music but thatâs where it ends. In terms of the two aspects of me- one part of me is and individual, a hermit- the other part a communist when I like to share music with people- Killing Joke is a collectiveÂ and the classical is one manâs vision.â
The albumâs key is the end of times, an age of flux, and a shift in consciousness. The end times. the Mayan calendar and the possible Dec 21st end of of everything.
This kind of thinking sets the tone to this powerful record with 2012 and the state of flux the key issue.
âItâs in many different calendars- the great unveiling, the sky and the earth coming together. Itâs a significant date. In the autumn there is a major planetary alignment and on that day Iâm doing this rock festival âA Party At The End of The Earthâ which is going to be in New Zealand. Everything is speeding up. Itâs not just our minds shrinking. We areÂ heading towards the Eschaton (or the end of time) and no-one really knows whatâs going to happen.’
âAll the remote viewers I know, myself included, cannot penetrate beyond. This year is about getting our collective dreams in order, restoring the biosphere, the idea of well being as opposed to economic growth, the idea of partnership and co creation with fellow human beings, moving away from national boundaries and more towards what Schiller and Beethoven were saying in some of their work.â
If you think the Mayan, Masonic and Rosicrucian calendar and so many indigenous calendars all point to 2012 as a time of great change. It’s too much of a coincidence. I think the change theyâre referring to is of cosmic proportions. One thing thatâs for sure is that the earth’s geomagnetic field is diminishing rapidly and this is part of a bigger shift.Â âPoleshiftâ – the first track on the album is about the potential polar shift with of earthâs magnetic field behaving erratically and also the polar shift that may happen- it’s happened before when the earth’s magnetic field flips and it may happen soon.
Itâs a waste of time speculating on life extinction as it were. I can’t see the point contemplating extreme life extinction- itâs good for nothing. Itâs nihilism in the absolute even considering it. There is a long history to these events.Â The Polar shift has happened before and mankind have survived it and we could well be looking at something similar shortly.Â If you go back to our history books thereâs a Roman historian who went to ancient Egypt and he talked to the priests there and they told him that in the entire history of the Egyptian civilization the sun has risen in the East and then risen in the West and then back to the East four times in the history of the Egyptian civilization. ‘
The albumâs themes are political, anti capitalist and forward looking despite the heavy themes.
âIf we can concentrate on what it can be, the dream of clean streams, of reforestation, of permaculture, of disengaging all the banks- identifying all the majority shareholders of the top 100 corporations and dismantling them. If we start dreaming of a fairer system and defining what an elite should be- an intellectual powerhouse and not international bankers.â
He laughs that wild laugh and stares.
âThis is what Iâm touching on with the songs, âFemacamâ is about the concentration camps they have been building in America, âCorporate Electâ needs no explanation, âRaptureâ is the way I perceive a Killing Joke concert â itâs a spiritual experience for myself to get in that state of grace- music is the theme of mantra, Iâm not into organised religion atall but I always liked what Fela Kuti did in Nigeria playing music like it was aÂ temple, maybe we will evolve into aÂ time where we will be performing for ritualistic and spiritual reasons alone and not for monetary reasons.
There’s a song called âAll Hallows Eveâ which is about my belief in ancestor worship, backed up by quantum theories that there is no death. You only ever remember the timeline that you are alive in- you canât remember being dead because you never were.
âColony Collapseâ is about whatâs happening, whatâs going on out there.
The twelve tracks are an avalanche of sound that is empowering whilst jolting you awake. They are as fascinating as chatting with Coleman, as he talks of future humans living for ever but with no emotions and of the Age Of Aquarius and the cycles of time, the shift in the earthâs electro magnetic field, the end of extreme capitalism, the Arab Spring and how his trips to Cairo to record music there have added to his belief that when Cairo falls everywhere else follows.
Clearly operating at a different speed than anyone else, Coleman is lucky to have a band that cannot not only match this vision but are very much equal parts of it.
âWe talk about this stuff for days on end,â he explains, adding, âwhen we make an album we have no preconceptions of what we are going to sound like and if we did they would be smashed to pieces very quickly.â
Killing Joke are the only honest band left on the planet. If you want to know what 2012 really sounds like then they have captured it with this tsunami of pure sound.