In 1992 Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty were so fed up with music business they were unable even to poke fun at it as they were doing for the last four years.
As a severance with shades of deliverance they performed a brand new version of their superhit 3 A.M. Eternal with crust punk outfit Extreme Noise Terror at Brit Awards. It was dissonant with everything else on the ceremony and sure caught a lot of attention causing many-many think-pieces to roll for a couple of weeks. In the end of performance Bill Drummond fired machine gun blanks at the audience while it was announced through the speakers that "The KLF had left the music industry". What a nice way to go...
Around the same time they were trying to record The Black Room - a follow-up to their hit album The White Room. While the latter was all gleeful tongue-in-cheek stadium house pop, the former was to be much darker and heavier. Just like the White Room, The Black Room had went through several iterations, first being hard techno, then more of aggro-industrial flavor (as Cauty put it in 1990 "electro turbo metal") and finally it morphed into a full-blown collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror.
But after all it went nowhere - the album was never finished. Drummond and Cauty were too exhausted to go on. Honestly, there was no point in going on - the more things changed the more they stay the same. It wasn't like music industry was changing because of them. And since all their attempts to make difference to make difference were proven to be ultimately futile - there was no other reasonable solution other than to quit.
You can still hear the glimpses of what they were up to on singles "America: What time is love?", "Grim Up North" and "3 A.M. Eternal (The KLF vs Extreme Noise Terror: TOTP version)" (and also in some backwards way in the form "What Time is Love Techno Gate Mix"). In interviews the band was namedropping a lot of things to tease the imagination and cause a feast of pondering - Milton backed by Megadeth (something like this) was the most inspired.
But not much else aside of it. Imagining how finished The Black Room would've sounded like is a fun futile task. There is rather colorful recollection from Mark Stent which fits the sounds: "There was such a raw power to it. It was so different from anything anyone else had ever heard." That's all you need to know.
Later the bootlegs of the rough demos came through and now they're available online. According to then Extreme Noise Terror bass player Mark Bailey - these recordings were made at band rehearsals in Ipswich in 1991. Bear in mind this is just a work in progress, a sketch of what should've come.
Overall - these demoes definitely leave a decent impression. It is a collection of hard, pounding, bulky stompers. Mood pieces for rather pissed if you like.
I'm Fucked is a fine introduction to the cycle. It is an ordinary fast-paced, mosh-inducing punk cut. It sets the right tone and after a short intro it jumps right in the middle and drag the listener over the nondescript poorly lit, abundantly decorated hall. Also - it definitely should be your next ringtone.
Deep Shit is one of two occassions when the record sounds more than merely a sketch. This track got intricate structure. Intro beats to the dust and then black hole opens and sucks everything inside itself. And then it all inside gurgling, bouncing as it if it was vacuum cleaner capsule where another black hole opens and sucks everything inside. And then press flattens the scene and there is some liquid leaking - running away through the hard-edged dazzle camouflaged debris. Then it happens upon a big scary dude and they start fighting. Ferrociously. The It evokes some Platinum Games imagery.
Bite It Harder resembles early Circle Jerks and Germs stuff. It should be noted that hardcore punk sounds really weird without vocals. Typical "chorus - verse - chorus - verse - interlude - solo - chorus - verse" structure feels empty without singing but leaves a lot of space to imagine what is going on. Which sound depiction of romanticized escape attempt into the big nowhere.
Thirty-Eight is muzak for industrial people - pounding, meat mincing abstract brawler. It sounds vague but menacing. It is also oddly well-tempered. It goes somewhere for a while, then stops and realizes it goes nowhere, then thinks "so what?" and goes again like nothing happened, then gets second thought, stops for a moment again, thinks "bollocks!" and goes again and so on. It is just foir minutes long but it is so monotone it feels like forever. And since the riff is good and the groove is right - it's a nice pastime. I've listened to it on the loop nine times and then hummed along for a week.
The Black Room resembles all the best moments from Bad Brains song mashed together. It is structured like an ordinary song but lack of vocals make it rather off-putting roundabout.
Fuck the Election starts off with playful starts and stops. Structurally it is like taking a journey through the stairs. It ascends up the stairs. Then walks to the next staircase. Crosses the line, drummers gets a rolling fill and then it all repeats.
Turn Up the Strobe is second more or less fully formed song on the record. It is slow-burn, brooding, bone cruncher. It is a sonic beatdown. It leaves the subject of obstruction a bloody pulp. Guitar lashes its riffs over ears. Rhythm section thrusts forwards like a steamroller, breaking through the thick layers of nil. It sounds very intimidating.
There is one thing that occured in my head while listening - as it is (vocal-less) it seems to be like a soundtrack for the video game. Some non-existant Super Mario / Sonic the Hedgehog clone. In terms of dynamics it makes sense. There is a title screen, level exploration, puzzle solving, cut scenes, boss battles, bonus rounds.
I guess what KLF intended to do was to monkey Whitehouse, carve a smile on the surface and add some less apparent Helmet groove. But since it was never finalized - we're left with these weird scraps and imagination.
(i'm waiting for someone to mash these tracks with some GG Allin vocals.)