Time is Running In

On January 5th, a mysterious poster appeared in London, the same day as its website, k2planthireltd.com.

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The poster announced the end of the 23-year hiatus, (the number 23 having played a critical role in many of the KLF’s works as they relate to the 23-enigma of the Illuminati). This postponement of the K-Foundation was ceremoniously implemented by the duo signing an infamous contract in gold pen across the windscreen of a Nissan Bluebird November 5th, 1995 and the deal was sealed with the act of pushing the Bluebird off a 120-foot cliff at Cape Wrath. 23 years was intended to ‘provide opportunity of sufficient length for an accurate and appropriately executed response to their burning of a million quid’.  

Further investigation into this exciting new announcement led me to an even more mysterious YouTube account, user WGU 18G, which has been posting cryptic new KLF content since January 1st, when they uploaded a 46-minute video puzzle dubbed, “KLF 01 01 2017 WTF FOUND VHS.” Tiny video fragments were posted in the first 23 days of 2017, each a mash up of pop culture film footage recut to speak words like, “KLF” and “Justified Ancients” and “MuMu”. Mixed in are footage of Robert Anton Wilson, the Kennedy assassination, other Illuminati symbology, BBC educational film reels, and fraction-of-a-second long superimposed elements intended to reveal pieces of the puzzle… or to lead the viewer entirely off the scent.

And on January 7th, Instagram user @followersofmu uploaded this addition to the mystery:

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And today – the 23rd of January brings all of this news serendipitously to my attention on the very day my copy of my literary white whale – The KLF’s THE MANUAL arrived at my door from Germany.

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A week ago I decided that it would be foolish to let any more months pass, permitting the few remaining copies of this massive text listed for sale to be snatched up by other collectors. I quickly purchased a copy of the second (and final) edition but was disappointed to see that the giant oversize MANUAL had been reduced to a minute handbook for its reprint and that the author and title were changed to a less-impressive re-wording, (see below).

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Within moments, I located a first edition copy in outstanding condition for only $30 more, which made my decision a no-brainer. In minutes, I’d canceled my order and secured an original for my library.

For those unfamiliar with THE MANUAL, it was published in 1988 and dubbed, “THE MAJESTIC INSIDE STORY OF HOW TO MANIPULATE THE POP MUSIC WORLD.” The book instructs the reader to quit whatever band they’ll in, sell all their gear, buy the top pop singles of the day, sample them, have a number 1 hit, and be forgotten by lunchtime. The book promises that if you’ve followed their instructions and don’t make it to number one, that they’ll refund your purchase.

The first printing of the book is credited to The Timelords, as Cauty and Drummond had just successfully implemented their guide and made it to number one under that moniker with the ridiculous hit, “Doctorin’ the Tardis.” And they were right – just as THE MANUAL instructs, the track liberally samples the theme music from Doctor Who, Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part Two)”, sections from “Blockbuster!” by Sweet and “Let’s Get Together Tonite” by Steve Walsh, and neither member of the duo played a single note on the track. Critics hated it. The song was shite. But it made it to number one.

In the years since the abandonment of the K Foundation, Drummond and Cauty have done some fantastic work. Bill Drummond created The 17 and published a book of its collected writings. Graffiti appeared in Derby with messages like this:

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And soon thereafter, a series of posters were created to convey the concept of The 17.

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Meanwhile, Cauty continued his anarchistic art, most recently with a touring art installation dubbed The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (ADP) Riot Tour. ADP is a massive graffiti-covered shipping container with small lenses positioned around its perimeter which grant observers a glimpse into a post-riot dystopian miniature city contained within. Spectators can see flashing lights, police blockades, and the remains of a city torn asunder accompanied by the faint sound of police radio signals from inside the container. The installation toured in from April to December of 2016 and was featured as part of Banksy’s Dismaland. ADP Riot was a larger scale implementation of the theme Cauty explored in 2011 with A Riot in a Jam Jar.

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But all of this – the zenarchistic mythos of the KLF, the Manual, the burning of a million pounds at Jura, their art and music… and 23 years of contractual silence… has led to their return in 2017.

Time is running in.

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UPDATE 01-24-17: Information from some additional sources appear to dispell the cryptic rumours outlined above. First, on January 5th, The Guardian published an article titled, The KLF are back (sort of) – and it’s exactly what 2017 needs containing the following statement:

News of the comeback centred on a mediocre YouTube collage featuring the duo’s previous videos, which turned out to be something someone had compiled for a 2015 book talk. Drummond himself rained on the whole parade, saying: “Jimmy and I have always remained very close but we have no plans to reform the KLF or exploit our back catalogue in any way.”

His quote, it turns out, was a feat of semantic nuance. Within 24 hours, a photograph of a chanced-upon bill poster appeared on social media, confirming that the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (not the KLF) were working on new material (rather than exploiting their back catalogue), and that it would be unveiled on 23 August.

Cauty tweeted confirmation of this new material shortly thereafter.

And on 01-17-17, KLF.de posted the following notice:

In the aftershock of this month’s announcement some publications were fast on turning excitement into exaggeration, so we thought it necessary to point out some facts or, at the very least, debunk some rumours.

  1. The KLF have not announced their return.
  2. At this point no music releases have been teased, be it reissues or freshly recorded material.
  3. There will be no new Jimmy/Alex collaboration. This particular rumour came from a news page which took the then slightly dated Positive Void website for the official K2 Plant Hire Ltd. homepage.

At this point the only official information is that The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu are gonna unveil their sculpture The Twenty-Three Year Moratorium on August 23rd as announced via the K2 Plant Hire poster and the liner notes from Bill Drummond’s “Imagine…” DVD.

In the meantime, everybody lie down on the floor and keep calm.

So for now, we’re just Waiting.

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Classic House at My Doorstep

Three classic singles just arrived at my door.  For only a few dollars I could have ordered these at any time during the last several years.  However, it would have meant shelling out $12 for each single to ship them overseas.  I lucked out this week when I found all three from the same seller – and in the USA!

The first single needs no introduction.  It’s “Dark and Long (Dark Train)” from Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman era.  After over 15 years they still play this song at many of their live shows.

Underworld - Dark & Long (Dark Train)
The second single is only familiar to real Underworld fans, which is sad because it’s such a fantastic disc.  “Spikee” / “Dogman Go Woof ” was released on Junior Boys Own records in ’93.  If you don’t want the hassle of tracking down the original single, the track was released on the 1992-2002 compilation double disc – an album which also features other rarities like “Bigmouth” and “8 Ball.”

Underworld - Spikee / Dogman Go Woof
The “Spikee” video below is from the rare Footwear Repairs By Craftsmen at Competitive Prices VHS, a compilation of early Underworld videos produced by Tomato.  Anyone who owns a copy of Karl’s mmm… Skyscraper: A Typographical Journal of New York will recognize the fractured type which eventually ended up as artwork for the Dubnobass LP.

The vocal samples come in at around 3:10 and play throughout.

The song is structurally similar to Darren Price’s “Everybody Jack” in its use of fragmented vocal loops.  “Jack” was previously known as “Javelin Boy,” a misinterpretation of the lyric.  The song has yet to be released by the band.

The earliest versions of “Everybody Jack” that I have in my collection are from 2007 – the Central Park, NYC show from 09-14, the Glasgow Academy, Scotland set from 10-13 and the London Roundhouse England performance from 10-18.  But the version aired during the 30 minute Exclusive Mix for the We Are One Festival blows all the others away.   Here it is, from that very mix.

And this is a promo vid Darren Price recorded for Maschine 1.6 a few weeks before the Miami Music Conference where he plays around with the “Everybody Jack” sample live in studio.  Jump to 1:37 to watch him at work.

The third and final single is the KLF’s Justified and Ancient.  I already have”3 A.M. Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.),” “Doctorin’ the Tardis,” and “Chill Out” is on its way.

KLF - Justified and Ancient (front)
KLF - Justified and Ancient (back)

In addition to the songs themselves, an added bonus of ordering the singles was that they provided me with clean copies of the older JBO logo and the KLF pyramid, which I scanned and recreated to work on dark t-shirts.  I’ll be printing them up soon, along with a White Room icon tee and one of the “Why Sheep?” graphic from the White Room liner notes.

I also stumbled across an Underworld unreleased treasure that I had somehow missed when it first surfaced on the Web.   It is the DAT prototype tape for Dubnobasswithmyheadman which the band used when trying to secure a record deal in the U.S in 1993.  You can definitely hear them finding their sound on this tape.  Check out “Organ.”