What is the “Black Room”?

The legendary unreleased LP, the darker, harder twin to the White Room LP. It was referred to in interviews for ages, even before the White Room was released. Originally it was planned to be harder techno (like It’s Grim Up North), then it was going to be heavy-metal techno (like America…) and then it was going to be a thrash-metal collaboration with Extreme Noise Terror (like the TOTP version of 3 am Eternal).

It was originally scheduled for the end of ’91, which was later put back to March ’92, and they were still recording in February ’92 when they scrapped the sessions. It’s unknown how much of each incarnation was complete before it was scrapped and recording was re-started.

Jimmy said of it in December ’90: “The ‘Black Room’ album will all be this kind of electro turbo metal. It’s not really industrial like, say, Throbbing Gristle, because it’s coming from house and has an uplifting vibe about it. But it’s so heavy it will just pin you to the floor.”; while Drummond said of it in March ’91: “It’s the compete yang to the yin of ‘The White Room’. It’ll be very very dense, very very hardcore. No sort of ‘up’ choruses or anthems. I think it’s going to be techno-metal, I think that’s gonna be the sound. Techno-metal. Which’ll be, you know, a cross between Techno and Heavy Metal. Megadeth with drum machines.”

One NME article noted that the “Black Room” was actually an ante-room to the recording studio they used in West London.

Lyrics from the song 38, recorded in mid-February by Bill Drummond during these sessions were reproduced in the July ’92 issue of Select.

“I’m looking for something but it wasn’t there/(Next line indecipherable)/I’m 38 and I’m losing control/And when I find it I’m going to take it/And when I find it I’m going to make it/And when  I’ve found it I’m going the break it/I’m 38 and I’m losing control/I’m looking for nothing that I can’t feel/I’m looking for something that I can’t see/I’m 38 and I’m losing control.”

Mark Stent, the engineer/producer for these sessions, thought the music was pure genius.

Mark StentSelect, July 1992 The most awesome track for me was one called “The Black Room and Terminator 10” which was like a very slow tempo thrash. It was mad. It was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and it would have shown a lot of people up because it was as ballsy as hell. Guitars screaming all over the place, Bill doing his vocals and Dean [of ENT] doing his. There was such a raw power to it. It was so different from anything anyone else had ever heard. This was really heavy.

Despite their performance at the BRIT Awards in February ’92 and their announcement of having left the music business, recording sessions for the album were still in progress.

William Shaw (Select)Select, July 1992 Drummond would burst into the studio clutching his notebook, full of ideas for that week’s recording, discuss them with the quieter, more laid-back Cauty, and then tell the group what they wanted them to do. ENT followed the plot as best they could.

Dean Jones (ENT)Select, July 1992 Basically we didn’t really see what they were doing.

However, by the end of a week Bill and Jimmy had lost interest and would scrap the entire session, but as far as ENT and Mark Stent understood things, the intention at that point was to go back into the studio at some point in the near future and re-record the songs.

There are some mp3 files on file sharing networks and ftp servers which apparently are taken from the ‘Black Room’, and although they are mislabelled, then ENT bass player Mark Bailey confirmed to us that these files were indeed taken from an early demo tape they recorded for the ‘Black Room’ album. How they got there remains a mystery to him, though. The full interview with Mark Bailey features many more details about the plans of Bill and Jimmy as well as some more details about their sessions, so you might want to read that as well.

Furthermore, in Bad Wisdom, on page 206, Bill says:

Z asks about the Black Room album that me and Jimmy as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu started but were too afraid to complete. I tell him how, when I was standing in the twilight of the recording booth, the microphone in front of me, Jimmy’s magnificent metal guitar riffs roaring in my headphones, a voice came out of me which I had never heard before, words flowed that I had never written and a precipice appeared before me. I crept forward and looked over the edge: the abyss. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu’s LP, The Black Room, was never finished.

But Z keeps talking and I’m warming to his persuasions. He feels that Jimmy and I are evading our responsibilities; we should return to our war-horse and complete the task. And yes, right now I believe Z may be right. But maybe Jimmy and I should wait until we are both over fifty before we record the sound of us as battle-scarred veterans of a hundred mercenary campaigns, when the music would not be drawn from our fading libidos but from the horror of life spent confronting that abyss – kinda like Milton backed up by Megadeth.

See the NME ‘KLF vs. the BRITs’ and Select ‘Who Killed The KLF’ articles in the Articles section for further details.


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