Our engineers of culture and technicians of the sacred come in many forms. Two such individuals are Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty; better known as the K Foundation, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu or simply The KLF. Back in the liminal void between aeons (the late 80’s and early 90’s) the KLF were a band with a project far beyond being Number One selling artists (which they were). This volume by John Higgs traces the emergence of that great collaboration and the vast web of synchronicities which attended their oeuvre.
When discussing the cultural influence of particular bands, especially ones from one’s youth, one should remain mindful of the words of Scroobius Pip and indeed it is true that the KLF are ‘just a band’. Yet there is undoubtedly magic at work here. Those who know the tale with appreciate the fact that (in some versions) the story of the KLF ends with the ceremonial burning of a million pounds in cash on a remote Scottish island. This act, like much of the action in the story, can, and indeed should. be read in multiple ways. It’s simultaneously a finely honed spell against the hegemony of the late 20th century music industry, a Dadaist art action, a carefully orchestrated Discordian deployment of Operation Mindfuck, and also exactly what two attention seeking arseholes like Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would think was a good idea.
As well as our dymanic duo of pop, this expertly crafted biography includes a giant invisible rabbit spirit, a 1968 Ford Galaxie American police car (that can speak), Dr Who, The Goddess Eris and, as they say, a cast of thousands (mostly with eyes like saucers, and their hands in the air).
While the title of this book puts a comma between the words ‘chaos’ and ‘magic’ I’d beg to differ. Both in style and content this is a great ‘chaos magic’ book, ideal reading when your waiting for that last train to transcentral. It shows how magical acts emerge from the web of Wyrd, come into being, and how their effects can be traced outward into the universe at large. It describes this process in a way that remains true to the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson et al; so while founded on solid research, this biography refuses to limit itself to one true interpretation of what the KLF were really about. It’s also a great book for those who dig the suggestion (quoted in this volume) from Alan ‘The Grey’ Moore (Peace Be Upon Him), namely that ‘art is magic’. This book may well be proof of that position.
And on a final note my copy is now somewhat battered (which I guess is appropriate) because I simply couldn’t put it down; a serious page-turner and highly recommended.