The KLF: Enigmatic dance duo- Library of Mu
- Library of Mu record:
- Title: The KLF: Enigmatic dance duo
- Date: 1991-04-01
- Journal: Record Collector
- Author: ?
- Type of resource: Interviews
- Status: text
- No. views: 9041
- Description: includes discography and facts about recording of Chill Out and Waiting.
The KLF: Enigmatic dance duo
By ? (1991-04-01, Record Collector)
[incomplete - the start of the article seems never to be have been scanned]
Bill Drummond: "Once every magazine had done their bit on ambient house,
either making fun of it or mocking it, it sort of evaporated. It became
something for journalists to write about. Other than both of us coming from
a generation which liked Pink Floyd in the '70s and seeing Tangerine Dream
on telly I don't think we ever were big fans of that kind of music. But I
suppose you can take it in along the way."
While electronic dinosaurs like Jean Michel Jarre and Klaus Schulze were
walling themselves in with banks and banks of synthesisers, computers and
electronic gadgetry the KLF were doing the opposite - making a crafted work
like Chill-Out with the bare necessities of musical survival. Cauty: "Well
'Chill Out' was done with two DAT machines and a cassette recorder!"
Drummond: "'Chill Out' was a live album that took two days to put together
from bits and pieces.
It was like jamming with bits from LPs and stuff we had lying around. We'd
run around having to put an album on here, a cassette on there, and then
press something else to get a flow." Cauty: "There's no edits on it. Quite a
few times we'd get near the end and make a mistake and so we'd have to go
all the way back to the beginning and set it all up again. The two DAT
players, the couple of cassette players, a record player, and a 12-track
were feeding into a mixer
and back out onto one of the DATS." Drummond then talks of bouncing it from
DAT to DAT and playing a few pads on a synthesiser at the notorious
Trancentral of legend. For an album heaped with critical praise, its
creation seems to have been truely chance-orientated.
If the KLF were spacing out, the picture of them by the sea in the "Sunday
Times" magazine of March 1990 confirmed that "Chill Out" was no mere
whimsical indulgence. A well-goomed Drummond held a boom mike to the skies
as Cauty in yellow mac and customised Ruskie hat recorded the waves. "Now
that was a fake. That was a thing that Jimmy made with a bit of fur wrapped
around a couple tin cans. You don't have to do that to record waves. Just go
down to Tower Records and get a CD with waves on it." said Drummond of the
shot of the crazy cats getting it together in the country. In Spring 1990,
they set off with their Oberheim and Yamaha keyboards, DAT machines, mikes,
tape recorders and samples to the Isle of Jura on the Inner Hebrides with
film maker Bill Butt to make an atmospheric video of nothing in particular
and everything in detail. Jimi Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower" and
"Voodoo Chile" were sampled to death and spliced with bits of "3 AM
Eternal", "Last Train To Trancentral" and "Chill Out". In typical post punk
garb, Drummond and Cauty stood around by the sea, warmed themselves up by a
bonfire and looked suitably disinterested. Equipment was set up on windy
hills covered in rain displacing plastic. A speaker stack was arranged to
give the impression of a Hendrix caricature. Cauty and a dog idly strolled
around a garden with a boom-mike held aloft sampling the local aural colour.
As the music got fiercer, and a loop from Hendrix's killer riff from "Voodoo
Chile" split your ears, the camera raced up and down a beach as our heroes
stood impassively behind their machines pretending to play.
It was a gas and the resulting video "Waiting" (released at the end of 1990)
had some of the best experimental house music ever heard. With all of these
shenanigans going on, rumours spread theat the KLF were performing gigs only
with Highland sheep, the idea being that a load of sheep would appear on
stage as KLF music blared out via the P.A. Some sightings were reported but
the story remains apocryphal. Articles in the "NME" that summer showed Cauty
and Drummond chasing sheep, posing with sheep and talking to sheep. The
connection was bolstered by the heavy sheep content of "Waiting". The
classic sheep shot of "Chill Out" had by this time seen by 20,000 lucky buyers.
September 1990 saw the KLF back in the hot seat with another release for
"What Time Is Love". Released on 7", 12" and CD single, a special limited
edition additionally sneaked out which included the original 1988 version
plus a weird Echo And The Bunnymen remix. An independent No.1 and high
national chart placer, it secured the KLF a 'Top Of The Pops' appearance,
be-macced/be-shaded behind synths looking anonymous behind the typical face
of a cross-cultural house group. Says Drummond, "The rules of the game are
still the same whether you're independent or not. If you want a hit single
you still have to be on Radio 1 and you still have to go on 'TOTP' in some
form or other." Nevertheless that period also saw the release or re-release
of Drummond's 1986 solo LP "The Man" on Creation, a bizarre work of strained
vocals and country/folksy whimsy which included the infamous ditty "Julian
Cope Is Dead", and a fair version of the Byrds' Bacharach cover, "Goin'
Back". Simultaneously, Drummond went into print castigating the music press
for its trandy alliance with house, years after it had broken. He also laid
into the mindless bolstering of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays who in his
opinion were sold to 17-year olds on the "flimsiest of pretexts". "As soon
as you pick up an electric guitar you are playing rock music, that's all
there is to it", Drummond told me at the end of last year.
Meanwhile Jimmy Cauty was still in ambient land. Having knocked an Orb album
on the head he had come up with a project titled "Space", ostensibly a solo
venture. "I had nothing written," he recalls. "It was a jam, all done on
Oberheim keyboards. Loads of samples an different bits and pieces were
chucked in there as well. I started on monday morning and by Friday it was
all done. It was basically a record for 14-year-old space cadets to go and
take acid for the first time." "Space" was certainly laid back and trippy,
full of tones and references to the likes of Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd:
side two even begins with what sounds like a David Gilmour guitar break from
"Meddle" and ends
with the unmiskakable sound of the heartbeat form "The Dark Side Of The
Moon". With opera and house beats jangling its underside, "Space", seemed to
comment on the American dream of frontier spirit and ever onward. The
excellent sleeve of a Saturn V, spacemen floating in a world's eye above
Death Valley was as good an indication as any to its contents.
At the beginning of 1991 the KLF story stands as ever at a crossroads, the
question being will they sell out or go on in their inimitable way.
Featuring singer Maxine Harvey they started the year with another version of
"3 AM Eternal" subtitled "Live At The S.S.L. Guns Of Mu Mu". Achart topper,
the single prompted a pop looking combo with a pair of fishermen to shuffle
onto the "Top Of The Pops" set. And these fishermen were playing electric
Simultaneously, a hardcore underground Acid 12" grey label titled "It's Grim
Up North" circulated around the clubs. At the time of writing a commercial
LP, "Tunes From The White Room", was being readied for release featuring
some fine reggae/house music. Of course, the original "White Room" film by
Bill Butt and the KLF, made with an investment of a quater of a million,
still remains unreleased. Apparently, the band are trying to raise another
cool million to finish off what is described in the KLF camp as a "road
movie". Other unreleased items include the 12-inchers for "Love Trance",
"Turn Up The Strobe" and "Go To Sleep", plus the albums "Pure Trance" and
"Live at Trancentral".
Newsletters from the KLF camp promise release of this material someday.
Conversely, one item that has surfaced under the JAMs tag actually has
nothing whatsoever to do with the band. The "20 Greatest Hits" 12" on the
notorious Fierce Label is little more than a bootleg, although interest in
the Welsh label alone ensures a value of GBP 10. In the meantime, collectors
will have to satisfy themselves with catching sight of the various sleeves
lying around Rough Trade in readiness for the eventual arrival of these
recordings. Or else they might root out Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" KLF
re-mix or the ludicrously titled 1990 Pet Shop Boys versus the KLF single
"So Hard", not a remix but "a complete remake and remodel" according to
Drummond. Whether they want to wait the years it's going to take Drummond to
finish his book "Zenarchy - A Case History" or to find out if Jimmy Cauty
will ever have a exhibition of paintings of a regular comic strip is
anybody's guess. Certainly, the pair plan to issue "The Black Room" in a
couple of months, and "Make It Rain" is rumoured to be the next single.
Also, further remixes for "Last Train To Trancentral" are planned for
release later this year. What is certain is that the KLF have created a body
of work rich in diversity and valuable collectable interest. For more
information on the KLF and their releases write to P.O. Box 283 HP21 7TP.
Thanks to Cressida, Pam, Karl Simmonds, Jethro Binks and Vinyl Exchange.
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