‘Who Killed The KLF?’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

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A decades-long artwork prank the world briefly mistook for a pop band, The KLF had been much more attention-grabbing than they may’ve appeared to music lovers who prevented rave tradition like a drug of doubtful origin. The British duo had world-conquering hits, staged some colourful happenings, after which disappeared, leaving bemused onlookers to marvel, as Chris Atkins’ doc places it, Who Killed The KLF? While the bandmates themselves don’t deign to take part right here, Atkins has obtained sufficient beforehand unheard audio interviews to make sense of their story. It’s fairly a trip, even for viewers who don’t know the distinction between “What Time Is Love?” and the contemporaneous Haddaway anthem without “Time” in its title.

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If he can’t speak to members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty immediately, not less than the duo created and took part in loads of video shoots throughout their ’80s-’90s heyday, usually with the form of props, like a modified police cruiser, that are typically known as “iconic” whether or not they’re or not. The director weaves in re-creations seamlessly, illustrating tales of hijinks so properly {that a} viewer might marvel which footage is new and which is Memorex.

Drummond seems to have been the extra centered instigator of the 2, having spent his younger maturity absorbing oddball stuff just like the satirical Illuminatus! trilogy, the bogus faith Discordianism, and the associated culture-jamming marketing campaign generally known as Operation Mindfuck. Having spent a while goofing round within the semi-legit music business — he launched the primary Echo & The Bunnymen single, although the film glosses over a lot of this era (and doesn’t even point out a solo album) — he determined that the fundamental unit of pop music, the track, was too boring to maintain alive. In 1987 he known as up musician pal Jimmy Cauty and prompt forming a quasi-hip-hop outfit whose title, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (mercifully shortened to The JAMs) marketed their Illuminatus! origins and intent.

Controversy descended instantly. U.Ok. journal Sounds dubbed certainly one of their songs Single of the Week even supposing it wasn’t on the market anyplace; the only “The Queen and I,” which “sampled” ABBA much more overtly than Vanilla Ice ripped off Queen, earned a legal assault. Never ones to shy from a scene, the boys headed to Stockholm with the idea of convincing the group that their composition was a reputable art work. That ended with Bill and Jimmy throwing copies of the document into the ocean and burning all the remainder. (Spoiler alert: There’s an entire lot of self-obliteration nonetheless to return.)

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The group morphed a few occasions, releasing a (self-admittedly) horrible novelty track about Doctor Who that went to Top of the Pops, then penning a cynical guide explaining how anyone who wished to might manufacture a track that may go to primary. (It labored, too — not less than for KLF acolytes Edelweiss, whose yodel/hip-hop single “Bring Me Edelweiss” needs to be certainly one of historical past’s least doubtless quantity ones.)

Atkins, with assist from journos, band associates, classic interviews and really nutty music movies, paints a extremely entertaining image of The KLF’s ascent to druggy dance-floor dominance. They offered 6 million singles, we’re instructed, and their utterly DIY strategy meant no document label bought a minimize of the proceeds. But in methods the movie can’t totally clarify, the duo’s mind-set took a darkish flip. They turned obsessive about animal carcasses and staged a efficiency on the BRIT awards designed to be “so abhorrent they’d by no means be forgiven.”

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Then they made all their music utterly unavailable, disbanded, and took up pure efficiency artwork below the title Ok Foundation. Here as elsewhere, the film’s brisk tempo doesn’t permit as thorough an account as many will need. But it does give due time to a collection of stunts that seemingly go to the guts of the duo’s agenda: They started utilizing all that money they’d earned as a prop, going as far as burning 1 million kilos in a ritual that lastly turned many observers in opposition to them.

“Why?!” was the loudest query lobbed at them afterward (from those that believed it actually occurred, not less than). As is often the case with significant artwork, Drummond and Cauty didn’t appear to have an entire understanding of what they’d carried out. But the gesture, which threw a highlight on the artificiality of money and the blind spots of capitalistic altruism — true, that million quid now can’t be given to charity, however the meals it could purchase nonetheless might — is definitely essentially the most subversive factor they ever did. So far.

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