- Gareth Crook
What Time is Death? (2019) - 10/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, The KLF... or they used to be. That was the past, what their up to now is very much about the future. Welcome to the Dark Ages, is a documentary following the first year of their ambitious People’s Pyramid project. A monument to be built of 34,952 bricks on wasteland in Liverpool’s Toxteth, made of peoples cremated ashes. Bare with me. It sounds like an unconventional production. Filmmakers agreed to the format, only for Drummond and Cauty to pull out on Day 2. The cameras kept rolling though. 23 is a key number. 23 years after The KLF, the duo become... well I’m not sure, industrial undertakers? Each brick that’s fired contains 23g of human ashes. The pyramid when complete will be 23ft high. The 23rd November declared Toxteth Day of the Dead, on which each year, that years bricks will be laid. They don’t do things by halves do they. This sounds nuts, but I’ve no doubt they’ll see it through, or start. They burned a million quid after all!! It seems this is where it started. They had the ashes of all those £50 notes and wanted to make a brick from it. Why not eh! It’s then not a huge jump to do the same with human ash... giving us MuMu bricks. One brick, one person. It’s an interesting idea. I like it. It’s a nice thought to be part of something like this. Part of art, part of something with all those people. If you’re not into weird performance art with outlandish ideas, this isn’t for you, but I suspect you already know that. You probably didn’t like The KLF or play The White Room on repeat and were horrified by burning all that cash. You certainly won’t be paying £99 to buy a brick, have a bit of you stashed in it post death and be MuMufied. Many will, or they hope so. It’s a statement isn’t it. From Drummond and Cauty, but from those in the bricks and others too. Like Rupert & Clare Callender funeral directors who appear to be the experts brought in to cover I guess the legal side. There’s the ritual and longevity to consider. It’s a gamble for those bricks at the base. How many years will it take to complete? A hundred? Possibly hundreds. Certainly all the instigators will be long gone. They’re relying on starting a movement as much as anything else. As lofty as all this is. It’s conceptual at this point. Not enough to sustain a 90 minute documentary. So we get a lot of extraneous background and supplementary material, including stuff with musical director (no me neither) Nick Color rummaging through a shipping container full of master tapes, gold discs and other stuff telling stories. Gimpo makes an appearance too, building pyramids from tyres whilst filling in some of the history. It’s fine. It’s padding, but it’s still interesting and forgivable seeing the main protagonists pulled out. Not as interesting as footage from the first Toxteth Day of the Dead in 2018 though. To get entry to which is rather difficult. Unless you’re from Toxteth. Have a flyer posted through your door, in Toxteth and have a brick or a shopping trolley. Cue two lads unsuccessfully trying to get past the bouncer and having a coin toss over an abandoned trolley. Brilliant!! This film could be deemed a bit pointless, but I’d argue it’s incredibly important. As loose as it is a documentary, it stands to become an important part of something that could become huge. An archive of the origins of this venture. It’s also an advert “Get MuMufication. Buy now. Die later”. This whole world teeters around a glorious sense of chaos. One simple idea that grows and spirals... maybe one day 23ft into the Merseyside sky.