‘Whatever’: The Review

‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ has turned out to be an inspirational event for The 400 attendees and beyond. However, few have taken that inspiration as far as Andy Gell…

Since those special days in August, Andy has been documenting the event at his essential website welcometothedarkagespage130.com, written the inspired short story ‘Hold On’, shared his tale about his time as a Badger Kull Hardcore Fan, proposed that The JAMs’ time in Liverpool this year was a case of making art to make artists to make art and he is leading the exciting 400 Remix Project. Does this man ever sleep???

Something else from Mr Gell has been excluded from that opening gambit though…

In recent weeks, Andy has been kind enough to share two excerpts from another of his creative bodies of work. When supplying these teasers to us, the author did not give much context (I wonder where he learned that from) except for informing us that they were taken from a book of a play that he was developing…

‘Whatever’: An Excerpt by Andy Gell

‘Whatever’: Excerpt 2 by Andy Gell

The extracts hinted at a subtext derived from ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ and linked to the narrative of ‘2023’. Personally, I was hooked! The intrigue level was high and the author had clearly illustrated a deep knowledge, appreciation and passion for all things JAMs. Plus, there was a level of humour in the writing that just made it even more irresistible.

To add further to the suspense, Page 130 then released a trailer for the book…

There we had it, a few more elements to draw us in…

‘Based on true events’

‘2 detectives’

‘2 academics’

‘A hitman’

‘A serial killer’

‘And 400 volunteers’

The release date was set as 23:23:23 on November 23rd 2017…


Ok, enough with shaping the scene…

Well, not quite…

One more aspect of introduction is required…

For those that have read ‘2023’ by The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, you may have seen commentary around the references that publication draws on such as ‘1984’, ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’, pop culture and the history of Cauty and Drummond. Depending on your level of exposure to those various works, it may affect your appreciation level or understanding of the novel.

‘Whatever’ is written by one of the four hundred and is for the four hundred. But, if you are in tune with those events, have read ‘2023’, possess a knowledge of ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’ and are a JAMs / KLF fan, then you need to get your bookmark out…


If ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ was a HBO TV series, it would have been the Season 1 that blew away all who viewed it. Critics would rank it up there with the likes of Twin Peaks and Black Mirror. As a hardcore fan, you would buy the t-shirt, read all the opinion pieces, check out the fan art and then start wildly speculating about Season 2…

As the network then confirm that the second season has been commissioned, you naturally start to ask questions such as ‘What direction will the plot take?’ ‘Will we find out what happened to…?’ ‘What new characters will they add to the story line?’ ‘Shall I binge watch it or be patient and view it in instalments?’

I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of ‘Whatever’. I binged it in one sitting… That was not my intention… But I was so gripped, I could not wait to finish the story…

Did Season 2 live up to the hype?

When creating a sequel or a spin-off (as this may be deemed), there are certain routes that can be utilised by the author (or maybe playwright in this case). In ‘Whatever’, we are taken back to late August 2017 and the story is largely told via Liverpool and New York. We soon realise that we are travelling on a parallel timeline to the events as they unfolded in The Dark Ages. But the windows that we are looking through show perspectives that we did not know were in effect. We are being treated to flashbacks that open up themes and threads that pull us deeper into The JAMs’ abyss…

Season 2 of ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ is taking a story that we felt we knew pretty well from Season 1 but on closer inspection, we are learning that there are more layers than we imagined. Truths we lived are now being peeled back. Reality tunnels are now opening up new lanes of traffic. Familiar faces are popping up but then there are also distant characters from the stories of ‘2023’ and ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’ who are now making guest appearances. You love the casting choices for Season 2… (look out for Gimpo being totally legendary).

The writing style adopted is ‘conversational’. Nearly every act is driven by two way conversations except for one monologued scene. This technique works effectively and makes reading easy. But do not be fooled. This book, though short in page count is full to the brim with detail, reference and codes. In fact, for the studious amongst you, you may want to arm yourself with a calculator and a browser window with Wikitube open as you venture into the pages…

Get ready for a numerology assault – yes, really. You know the two digit number that I am talking about. Gell might just have become the world record holder on synchronicity discovery with the revelations he upturns in these pages. He might just have outJAMed the JAMs…

Much like at The Dark Ages, the ‘number’ appears heavily and is central to the narrative throughout. When it arises, the two policemen focused on it deliver their thoughts with a mixture of disbelief, fear, cynicism and humour that is perfectly apt for the enigma…

For those of you looking closely, will you find the coded references in many of the opening paragraphs of the acts?

For those of you with a keen design eye, will the cover of this publication allude to a connection?

The art debates and discussion that have ensued since the ‘happening’ and that follow Drummond and Cauty arise in ‘Whatever’ courtesy of a thread taken from ‘2023’. Just how did the wider world view the events in Liverpool this summer? Were the upper echelons of the art community taking a keen interest?

A little while back, Issue 82 of Bido Lito gave an account of the three days from an ‘Insider’. Rumours also abounded that Banksy may have been in attendance in some capacity. Just who were The 400? Were there more ‘Insiders’? Two such mysterious characters appear in the narrative and add further to the themes of art and money…

A recurring aspect of the story is the charming friendship between ‘art’ and ‘money’. And we are not talking the material kinds – these are the names of those two characters. If you made the public hearing on Day 1, you will soon realise who these two scholars are as they explore further themes in a bid to understand what the fuuk is going on…

Death has become something we all now look at very differently thanks to the creation of The People’s Pyramid. And death is a topic that enters into this play. There are high powers at force and some things must be achieved at all costs…

So, should you be parting with £5.23 for a paperback edition or £2.23 for the kindle eBook?

‘Whatever’ really is an essential companion piece for anybody who is a page holder from ‘2023’. Within this work we have a sumptuously deep exploration of numerology and synchronicity (or do we just find what we are looking for?). We learn that ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ is in fact a matryoshka doll – the deeper we dig, the more we uncover. Through conversations we enjoy the quirks of the cleverly painted characters as we see how the powerful think, what artists desire, how we seek truth, what motivates individuals and how friendships sustain.

Entitled ‘Whatever’ – the term the JAMs used when presented with the reason they burnt a million pounds. A teenage dismissive response. However, once you conclude your reading you will appreciate the choice of title but will find it fitting rather than your opinion of the words held within.

It is clear that this type of writing could only come from somebody with a huge appreciation of the JAMs universe. But this is not mere fan fiction, it is a smartly told story with great humour, well paced, elegant style and a mic-dropping twist that any highly established writer would kill for. ‘Whatever’ is currently presented in written form but is ideal for the stage – I certainly hope to attend a production of it before 2023.

Season 2 of ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ a.k.a ‘Whatever’ is a roaring success. It pleases the fans but is not a cliche or a lazy remake. This original work knows all the references, pays homage to the details and then expands on them further, takes them in other directions and creates something new. We were already in a vast universe but that just got swallowed up by a black hole in order to warp how we viewed what we had been a part of. Andy Gell previously hypothesised that The JAMs  were making art to make artists to make art – if that is the case, he is a shining light for what any of The 400 can achieve.

With all the synchronicities, the numerology, the art world, money, the People’s Pyramid, the secrecy – after reading ‘Whatever’ – can you be sure that this is a work of fiction???

 

 

‘Whatever’ is available now via Amazaba.

Paperback

Kindle

The original with supporting images will still be live at welcometothedarkagespage130.com from 23:23:23 on November 23rd 2017.

whatever book cover

 

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