Rare KLF, Weird Commentaries That Aren’t So Weird, and Thoughts on the Kleptocrats

I’ve downloaded something quite incredible, by that old group the KLF. I queued up the two long tracks and set in to listen. The first track seems to be a lot of prescient stuff foreshadowing a lot of later releases, but the second track is quite something, a spooky narration with a rich electronic background. The narration is a storyteller’s apocalyptic vision, but very much of a latter-day visionary’s trek into the strangeness of outside of the world we normally live in.

Anyway, the limited edition LP I downloaded is something that doesn’t seem to be listed in most of the discographies, something I think many people don’t even know about, since it was, as the info file flatly stated, “a rare, limited-edition KLF/Kopyright Liberation Front Communication.”

The liner notes go like this:

WAITING is a 42 minute impression of The Kopyright Liberation Front’s 8 day visit to the Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland in spring 1980.

For

THE RITES OF MU. Since that fateful day when man left by the eastern Gate, fruit still fresh in his belly, these four beautiful Handmaidens of Lucifer “Who, What, Where and When” have long tempted but never quenched his disastrous thirst for knowledge. The Kopyright Liberation Front have invited a selection of music industry figures, journalists to join them in celebrating The Rites Of Mu for returning to the garden where the rest of Creation waits…

By the way, I had no idea the KLF was a group so closely allied to some of my own attitudes and disposition. These guys have done some wonderfully polemical things, like giving a “worst art” award with a big cash prize, declaring that everyone should abandon art. Deleting their full catalog of albums and declaring that they will never release anything again until world peace has been declared was a clever spit in the face of record companies, apparently robbing them (in a sense I find fair and sensible) of all of their profits in “catalog stock sales”, for it’s certain the KLF would have sold on for years and years. And in their last stunt, according to their allmusic.com bio,

In August 1994, the artists formerly known as KLF managed to outdo themselves yet again. After physically nailing ?,000,000 to a board ?an act which necessitated the largest cash withdrawal in U.K. history ?Cauty and Drummond showed the money around England as a work of art entitled “Nailed to the Wall.” Then, on the island of Jura, in the presence of one journalist and one cameraman, they burned the entire sum as yet another bizarre commentary on the art world.

How fitting I learn about this on the day when I hear their bizarre, tripped-out album with a narrative set on that isle. In the narrative, four angels visit a group of travelers who have given away almost all their belongings on the way to the island. Finally, they give the angels the only things they have left from the outside world: all of their money. I like their attitude of healthy disrespect towards money, something I’ve been thinking about lately. Lime and I talked about charity lately, and having said what I think about a lot of it—that it exists not so much as a way of doing good, as much as a way to expiate guilt for not working for some real change in the way wealth and justice are maldistributed in every human society—and I began to think about the terrible, strange respect that humans have for money, which is, after all, an inert thing, an index of power and of marginal freedom… meaning, the tiny motes of freedom that we are granted from above to ensure we don’t demand more freedom or power. It’s always just enough to keep us in our place, isn’t it?

Who are the kleptocrats? How did they ever come to own this piece of land, that building, this or that natural resource? And since when did the rest of humanity simply acquiesce? Sadly, it seems to stretch back into history, as far as the eye can see. I wonder how far into the future it stretches.

But it stretches at least as far as nobody seems willing to ask these questions for themselves, honestly and seriously. And probably a great deal longer after many people do begin to take those questions seriously.

At least, until then, there are old KLF albums to download, and reading materials written in delightfully visionary mode, about how to make a number one hit. A funny passage, and one all too true:

Black American records have always been the most reliable source of dance groove. These records down through the years have inevitably laid so much emphasis on the altar of groove and so very little into fulfilling the other Golden Rules that they very rarely break through into the U.K. Top Ten, let alone making the Number One spot. A by-product of this situation is that gangsters of the groove from Bo Diddley on down believe they have been ripped off, not only by the business but by all the artists that have followed on from them. This is because the copyright laws that have grown over the past one hundred years have all been developed by whites of European descent and these laws state that fifty per cent of the copyright of any song should be for the lyrics, the other fifty per cent for the top line (sung) melody; groove doesn’t even get a look in. If the copyright laws had been in the hands of blacks of African descent, at least eighty per cent would have gone to the creators of the groove, the remainder split between the lyrics and the melody. If perchance you are reading this and you are both black and a lawyer, make a name for yourself. Right the wrongs.

Music and Reading Materials. There are, at least, that much for those of us born centuries too early to see the Abolition of the Kleptocrats.

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