The project formed by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty in 1987, which has lain dormant in a self-imposed moratorium of 23 years, returned at 00.23am on the morning of Wednesday 23 August. As Drummond and Cauty drove into a backstreet of Liverpool in an ice-cream van to begin three days of events, their first new work – a trilogy of dystopian fiction, an “end of days story”, called 2023: A Trilogy – simultaneously dropped online…
KLF’s re-entrance into the world on Wednesday night in their battered ice-cream truck also almost exactly mirrors a passage of the book, which points to a note scrawled on a warehouse wall in Liverpool. “I found myself in a dusty, sooty city. It was night and winter and dark and rainy. Then I saw an ice-cream van pull around a corner and pull up beside a derelict building.”
…The return of the KLF was marked by a poster in the East End of London posing the question: “2017: What the fuck is going on?” Certainly it feels fitting that the pair, whose stunts far predated the absurdity of most internet culture, are making their comeback in the post-truth era – and at a time when Beyoncé and Jay-Z are supposedly leaders of the Illuminati.
Few acts since have been able to rival their anarchic, anti-commercial and mostly ludicrous career in the late 1980s and 90s, and the book illustrates how they still have the power to poke vicious holes through popular culture.
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…Yet this is not a book for those looking for straightforward answers, and is as obtuse as the KLF themselves, who have published it under their other moniker, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. It is a multi-layered, self-referential meta tale, starting with two undertakers, Cauty and Drummond, who discover a life-changing book called 2023: A Trilogy on a hotel bookshelf. It was written by “George Orwell”, the pseudonym for one Roberta Antonia Wilson, 33 years ago. “What you are about to read is what they read – well almost,” reads the preface, adding that it has been translated from Ukrainian.
The big question is: why now? Well, for one, the authoritarian politics that spawned the KLF in the 1980s have once again reared their ugly head. But it also has a lot to do with the number 23, central to the Illuminati ideology that has long been at the core of everything the KLF has done. 2023: A trilogy marks exactly 23 years since their expensive farewell stunt and as the title suggests, is a monument to the number 23 and its continued powers to govern and link up the world.