“Ladies and Gentlemen, KLF have now left the building”
Or so we thought. After much frenzied discussion of an appropriately chaotic YouTube clip, an “official” statement has been released. By released, of course, we mean someone happened to spot this poster whilst out for a walk in Hackney. That someone happened to be Billy Drummond’s manager, adding a suddenly discernible veneer of truth to what seemed to be a collection of “happens”.
Which likely means Britain’s strangest Justified and Ancient art-music-duo is due to return. What bearing could this reunion, of the weirdest dance-electronica-hiphop anarchists, have on Goths?
Well, the KLF have always been up there with Carter USM and Pop Will Eat Itself for me as those mad, fringe artists that nevertheless have a solid following in the Goth scene, and still guarantee a dancefloor success, whilst not even being close to wearing the G-tag – not even in a dismissive-denial status, such as the Sisters.
I reached out to veteran DJ Mister Vodka, generalissimo of Carpe Noctum gigs and club nights, who traces his legacy back to that cradle of Leeds Goth, Le Phono, and has been running live events for Goths and allied trades since 1999. When I put my observations to him, he said
“‘Music that Goths like’ forms a classic Venn diagram with ‘Music called Goth'”.
“Back then, remember, there wasn’t much in the way of goth clubs, so we tended to go to rock clubs and indie/alternative clubs, so had exposure to “music that makes us bounce around the dancefloor like idiots and spill our snakebites”.
There’s a lot of other stuff from that sort of era that broke into the collective goth consciousness (Therapy?, Prodigy, Levellers, Pulp, Suede, JAMC, Curve, Smiths, etc.) alongside the earlier equivalents of Depeche Mode, Bowie, Iggy, Adam Ant, Motorhead, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell … all of which were cool outsiders.”
It’s an exciting reminder of the fluid and flexible nature Goth first arose in, before self-appointed Elder-Police decided to lay down the obsidian tablets containing the commandments of What Is Goth. In doing so, we lose sight of the laudably challenging behaviour of the most critically acclaimed band of 1992 – winning a BRIT award – turning up to the ceremony with a crust-punk band in tow, firing blanks from an automatic weapon at the audience, and fucking off to delete their entire back catalogue.
The re-emergence of bands of this vintage, even bizarre if treasured anomalies like The JAMS, is an exciting link back to those heady, drunken days when everyone was aboard the last train to Trancentral, and nobody was arguing in YouTube comments threads.
The difficulty of defining Goth is one of its virtues, and its delightfully transgressive appreciation for music that seems to lack any relevance is wickedly ironic and amusing.
So come climb aboard these ice-cream vans and crank up the pyramid blaster. 2017 is the year to find out just what the fuck is going on.
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