The KLF & Illuminatus!

Ford Timelord Cartoon Just what is the Illuminatus! Trilogy and what is its connection to the KLF? Stuart Young has been delving into the mysterious world of 23's.

Illuminatus! is a huge cult sex-drugs-occult-paranoid conspiracy theory-science fiction book, where reality shifts and nothing is as is seems. Or is that what I want you to believe? It was first published in the mid seventies, written by Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea (who were employees of Playboy when they wrote it), originally as three separate novels: The Eye In The Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan, but now most availible as the collected Dell edition (ISBN 0-440-53981-1). Forbidden Planet generally stock copies.

'Illuminatus!' tells the tale of the international conspiracy the Illuminati, who attempt to order and control mankind, and receive individual power (become illuminated) by causing mass deaths. Their arch enemies The Justified Ancients of Mummu (The JAMs), are "an organization (or disorganization) who are at least as old as the Illuminati and represent the primeval power of Chaos". Along with afiliated groups the LDD and the ELF (Erisian Liberation Front), the JAMs are engaged in a secret war to prevent the Illuminati from 'immanatizing the eshcaton' (bringing closer the end of the world). The JAMs were members of the Illuminati, but were expelled at the behest of a faction protesting "kick out the JAMs". The illuminati control all the record companies, which is why all music is very dull, and how they managed to incorporate the anti-JAMs gibe "kick out the jams" into a MC5 song. The JAMs started their own company to bring out good music, and combat the Illuminati.

The book is obviously a product of the sixties US counterculture, and of the liberated sexual attitudes prevalent in the Playboy offices. It mixes factional sources with fiction and constantly re-interprets and changes the 'facts' until the reader is left utterly confused. It makes use of the concept of synchronicity, where connections are made between apparantly unrelated incidences, and of numerology, and brings to the readers attention the occult significance of the number 23. Only the Lords of Mu know whether there is more significance to 23 than any other number, but what is definately true, is that once the reader is informed, and shown where 23 crops up, they will notice 23's popping up oddly themselves. A large part of the fun the book introduces one to, is either spotting 23's or hiding them in works deliberately for others to spot. Finally the book promotes discordiansm, "a religion disguised as a joke or a joke disguised as a religion?" Discordians worship the female god of chaos Eris, and are involved in the chaos vs order war.

When Drummond and Cauty decided to "kick out the old" and attack the music industry, they named their group the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and their record company the Kopyright Liberation Front (The KLF). Much of their recorded output features chants of Mu Mu! And their recordings are (c) the sound of Mu (sic). They took many concepts from the book and incorporated them into their work and these are listed below, but if you haven't read the book, and you intend to, you might want to spot them yourself.

The Stage Play top
When Drummond was at art college in Liverpool in 1976, he was 'involved with the set design', and did the music (along with teenage musical prodigy Ian Broudie), for the first ever stage production of Illuminatus! which opened in Liverpool on the 23rd of November '76. The 5 part, 10-hour, science-fiction rock-opera epic was directed by Ken Campbell, and the 23-strong cast included Jayne 'Big In Japan' Casey, David 'Time Bandits' Rappaport, and featured Robert Anton Wilson as a naked extra. The play moved to London where it was seen by the young Cauty who would read the books because of the production.

According to Broudie in MixMag Jan 97, "One day, I was sat with my brothers guitar in its case. Suddenly, this massive bloke comes over, gets it out and starts singing a Kinks song at the top of his voice, smashing the strings like a nutcase. He broke three strings and I was going, Who the hell are you? We shared a bus home and he mentioned he was a stage manager and there was this new sci-fi play at the Liverpool School which needed some music." The production included a two-minute song played by Broudie on his brothers guitar, and Drummond later asked Broudie to join Big In Japan.

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  1. What Time Is Love? and the original version of 'All You Need is Love' feature a sample of the MC5 shouting "kick out the jams motherfucker".
  2. 'All You Need is Love' also features the lyric: "We're back again/ They never kicked us out/ 20000 years of shout shout shout" which must refer to the real JAMs, also after suggesting an AIDS conspiracy ("Southern Texas seventy-nine/ Killer virus meets the world outside... With this killer virus who needs war?...Swinging sixties all part of the plan"), King Boy shouts "Immanentize the Eschaton".
  3. In 'The Porpoise Song' on JAMS LP2 King Boy meets a talking porpoise who tells him to join the JAMs! (While on the huge submarine, the 'Lief Erikson' several of the books characters meet Howard, a talking porpoise).
  4. Scott Piering, their radio and video plugger announces the motto of The books' JAMs 'Ok everybody lie down on the floor and keep calm...' at the beginning of 'Last Train To Trancentral' as does John Dillenger when he robs banks in the book.
  5. The Stadium House video is supposedly a KLF live concert at Woodstock Europa. In the book's Woodstock Europa, Maria Imbrium vocalist with the 'Sicilian Dragon Defense' hallucinates angels in golden robes coming out of Lake Ingolstadt. At the Rites of Mu (which of course was held on the lost continent of Mu) the four Angels of Mu rose out of the water at sunset in white robes.
  6. The confusion over their name (Kopyright and Kallisti Liberation Fronts, and Kings of the Low Frequencies) may just have been journalistic cleverness inventing them, or the KLF may have deliberately put them about, to mirror Hagbard Celine who keeps changing the name of the LDD (Legion of Dynamic Discord, Lawless Delicacy Dealers, Little Deluded Dupes). The multiplicity of names that they took on may be related to 'the JAMs can't do it alone'. The JAMs need help from The ELF and The LDD in their battle with the Illuminati. The JAMs need help from The KLF, The Timelords, Disco 2000 and The Fall in their battle with the music industry.
  7. The KLF stated all through their career that they intended to buy a submarine, and at the end of the 'Justified and Ancient (Stand By The JAMs)' video, they climb into a submarine and are waved off by the rest of the cast, 'all bound for mu mu land'. (Would they have called it the 'Lief Erikson'?)
  8. Also an insert shows the JAMsmobile driving off into the sunset, with "The KLF would like to thank the five for making all of this impossible" superimposed. The five of course are the secret leaders of the Illuminati.
  9. Kopyright, KLF, 2K, K-Foundation, Kick out the klocks! K2 Plant Hire. Why K? Could it be because of Kallisti, the Erisian goddess in the book? Discordian's leave 'K' graffitti messages for each other, in her honour.

    The KLF also hid many 23's in their canon of work for 'Illuminatus!' readers to spot.

  10. 'Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu' is 23 letters long. Kopyright Liberation Front unfortunately has one too many letters.
  11. The first single 'All You Need Is Love' was JAMS 23.
  12. "23 years is a mighty long time" is a line in 'Next' on 1987. Also on 1987 is the song 'Rockman Rock (Parts 2 and 3)'.
  13. The JAMsmobile (Ford Timelord) has 23 on its/his roof (all US cop cars have a two-figure number on their roofs). It can best be seen in the 'Doctorin' The Tardis' video.
  14. The model car in the 'Last Train To Trancentral' and Stadium House videos also has a 23 on its roof.
  15. The Pure Trance series was originally going to be comprised of 5 singles and 5 remixes - only 2 singles and 3 remixes were actually released.
  16. The Italian bootleg of the Madrugana Eterna club mix has a cat.no of ETERNAL 23.
  17. At the Disco Mix Convention in Amsterdam in late Oct 1990 (it may well have been the 23rd!) they played a 23 minute version of 'What Time Is Love?' additionally they did a PA at the Heaven club at the end of December 1990 (could it have been?).
  18. The KLF's appearance at the Liverpool Festival of Comedy was on Sunday June 23rd 1991.
  19. The final KLF Communications info sheet was #23. There's a Cauty drawing of the cop car in this info sheet, it has a 23 on its side.
  20. The K-F's award was announced on the 23rd of November (the 17th aniversary of the opening of the Illuminatus! Liverpool production).
  21. The K-F's award was the 1994 award, while the Turner award it was subverting was the 1993 award; could it be because 1+9+9+4=23?.
  22. They burnt a million pounds on the 23rd of August 1994 and premiered the film of this event exactly a year later.
  23. Finally they were back for '23 minutes only' at the Barbican in 1997 to ***K The Millenium.

    There are some other poor ones which only fit if you force them, but are often mentioned by fans as possible ones. Its stretching a point to believe that the KLF with their short attention span would bother to count up how many of each thing they had or hadn't done. However: There are 23 bricks in the KLF's pyramid blaster logo. Well there are 22 complete rectangular bricks. If you count either the ghetto blaster or the top triangle or the bottom left hand almost complete brick as the missing brick then yes. You can also manipulate the KLF's releases to produce 23 releases. There's JAMS LP1-6 (six) JAMS 23-28T (six) KLF 001-005, 008-011 & 99 (ten). So you need to dig up one more possibly the Stadium House video or ETERNA1 or the unreleased Black Room or K Sera Sera, and now we have ***K The Millenium. Then there's definitely not 23 mixes of 'What Time Is Love?' but by selectively discounting some or including some based on your own predjudices you can come up with either 13 or 17 (other significant numbers). Finally if you substitute numbers for letters, then K+L = 23 and K+F = 17.

© Stuart Young, 1994,97