The KLF were best known in the U.S. for their early ‘90s dance hits “3 AM Eternal” and “Justified and Ancient” (the latter featured country legend Tammy Wynette singing about an ice cream van and a fictional Mu Mu Land). The masterminds of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, the KLF was but one of several names for their musical and conceptual collaboration—they also released music as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the JAMs, and the Timelords. They embraced sampling technology in the ‘80s, churning out singles that liberally borrowed from the Beatles, the Dr. Who theme, Whitney Houston, and ABBA (a copyright battle with the last of which led to the withdrawl of their album 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?)). In 1988, they released a book called The Manual, which offered cynical and witty advice for securing a hit single (the Klaxons and Chumbawumba are said to have followed its formula to pop success). They recorded a mesmerizing ambient album, 1990's Chill Out. They pulled stunts like shooting machine gun blanks into the audience at the 1992 BRIT Awards and burning £1 million in 1994. In 1992 they deleted their back catalog in the UK. In the mid- and late-’90s put out a few songs here and there under more pseudonyms (2K, the One World Orchestra), but as a collective, Drummond and Cauty have been dormant for 20 years.
Until now? A 46-minute collage video that retraces KLF history in the most labyrinthine way while emphasizing the importance of the number 23 (it’s been 23 years since they burned that 1 million quid) was been uploaded to YouTube and to Vimeo on January 1 (the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu), the latter under the username Cale Leth.
The video’s description reads:
On New Year’s Day 1987 the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu were formed.
On New Year’s Day 1987 were the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu formed?
V.H.S. CONCERNING(?) :
LORD ROCK AND TIME BOY
A.K.A. THE TIMELORDS
A.K.A. ROCKMAN ROCK AND KINGBOY D.
A.K.A. THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU
A.K.A. THE JAMS
A.K.A. THE KLF
A.K.A. THE FALL
A.K.A. THE FOREVER ANCIENTS LIBERATION LOOPHOLE
A.K.A. THE FRANK AND ERNEST SHOW
A.K.A. THE K FOUNDATION
2017 - WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?
On 01/01/1987 Bill Drummond said to Jimmy Cauty “LET’S FORM A BAND CALL ‘THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU’”
On 23/08/1994 The K Foundation burnt one million quid.
2017-1994 = 23.
FACT points out that this video played at a 2015 KLF night at the Cube Cinema in Bristol (the KLF, if you haven’t guessed by now, have retained a cult following all these years later). The video may be teasing a return of this group of pop scholar-disruptors, or it may signal nothing at all. If nothing else, it’s an equally entertaining and disorienting history of a pair of expert provocateurs. What the fuck is going on, indeed.