As the KLF, one of the most influential and enigmatic pop acts of the 1990s, announce their return to the public eye after a 23-year hiatus, this month’s SLN includes a feature on what one half of the duo, Bill Drummond, has been up to in the meantime. Adam Harper looks at Drummond’s text scores for his ad hoc vocal group The17, devised alongside the slogan ‘Imagine waking tomorrow and all music has disappeared’; appropriately enough, the KLF’s return on 23 August will feature no music across a three-day event, ‘Welcome to the Dark Ages’. Pop posturing, perhaps, but Harper sees in Drummond’s work for The17 a connection with and timely critique of contemporary compositional practice.
More challenges to current practice are coming from a new generation of concert promoters and curators. Examples can be found across the country, but in our main feature Robert Barry argues that those in London are instilling the spirit of punk into the new music scene. Concert series like 840, Bastard Assignments, ddmmyy and WEISSLICH are taking a DIY approach to concert giving, and questioning everything from repertory to seating arrangements. The result, he argues, is a scene of tremendous vitality and invention.
The mood is being felt elsewhere too. Our critic Alannah Halay visited the PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial in Hull, and found a festival keen to challenge boundaries of all kinds, including between performers and audience. And as she describes her listening, composer Hannah Kendall reveals an affection for recordings by both Stormzy and Daniel Barenboim. All music has disappeared? Not just yet.