The Art Of Noise Tribute
A look at the best band you've never heard of.
Today, I'm going to take a little break from my Crazy Childhood articles to tell you about one of the greatest bands that, chances are, you never heard of in your entire life. If that's the case, gather around and hear all about the wonders that this band has to offer. If you know who this band is, read on anyway!
Art Of Noise is a band formed in 1983 that was big mostly in the UK. What kind of music do they play?
Well, that's the best part of this band. For the most part, there's no words on Earth that could possibly describe what kind of music they do. This is the kind of music that you simply have to listen for yourself and you can pretty much figure out the rest for yourself. As ZTT Records states on their website:
"Art Of Noise are not a band. Never were. They are an organisation, a distinctly non-rockist creative, post-modernist collective."
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?
The Art of Noise were formed in 1983 after engineer/producer Gary Langan and programmer J.J. Jeczalik started to sample a drum riff for the band Yes. Though the riff was scrapped by the band, it was something special at the time. It was the first time that an entire drum riff had been sampled on a Fairlight sampler using the then new Page R that allowed the programmer to sequence anything that had been sampled. Langan then played what they made to Yes producer Trevor Horn. who thought it was fantastic before Anne Dudley came along to provide the melodies.
The trio recorded things in their spare time as they all had day jobs. Soon, they were all part of Horn's team and had all worked together with Malcolm McLaren as well as ABC.
Then, journalist Paul Morley became the fifth member of the group although not as a musical member. His role was to create ideas of songs and then name them. He originally named them the [/i]Art of Noises[/i] taking the English translation of name L'arte Dei Rumori from the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo' s manifesto. However, it was Jeczalik who actually named the group the Art of Noise as he decided to drop the "s".
A legend was born.
Their debut EP was Into Battle With The Art Of Noise, released in September 1983. The ablum included the smooth love ballad Moments In Love, along with The Army Now that sampled The Andrews Sisters, and the awesome song Beat Box, which was the track that everyone went crazy over, which resulted the album to number one in the dance charts in the USA. It was something nobody had ever heard of. Soon afterwards, Art of Noise soon gained a huge cult following in the USA that has remained to this very day.
Who's Afraid of the Art Of Noise? (1984)
Though the magic began with the EP Into Battle, this was techinally AON's first full-length album.
Easily the two best original songs in this CD are Close (To The Edit), which benefits from a funky groove and a really messed up music-video. The other good one is the title track, which boths succeeds and fails at the same time. On the plus side, it's disturbingly surreal and would fit perfectly for a John Carpenter or David Cronenberg movie. On the other hand, you can't excactly catch the melody and feels like a random mess.
Other songs include a remix on Beat Box, Snapshot, Realization, and How to Kill. Aside from the Beat Box remix, the other songs aren't really worth it, seeing how they're only 1-2 minutes and feel like a sample of a song rather than an entire song.
In Visible Silence (1986)
Now here'es an album with pure gold. Like the previous album, In Visible Silence includes two good songs, but these ones are two of the best ones that the band ever made.
The two best are Paranoimia (Yes, they spelt it like that), which features vocals by 80's icon Max Headroom. It feels like listening to musical pop-corn popping in the microwave, and the Headroom vocals are fine, but if you can find the version without the vocals (the band tended to release different mixes of their songs), it's really something.
The second best song on this album (the first AON song I ever heard) is their version on the Peter Gunn theme song, with guitar played by Duane Eddy. If they ever did a remake of the Peter Gunn show at the time this song was released, it should've been the theme song. Fun Fact: The music video for Peter Gunn featured actor Rik Mayall as a private eye.
Other great songs in this album include Legs (don't ask), The Chameleon's Dish, Backbeat, and Instruments Of Darkness, which is feels like a 90's techno song.
The Seduction Of Claude Debussy (1999)
I've decided to skip the other two albums, In No Sense? Nonsense! and Below The Waste, because they only have one or two good ones and the other songs are either mediocre or I haven't listened to them yet.
In 1990, the remaining members of AON decided to break up and go their own path. Though there were many compilation albums for the rest of the decade, there were no new albums with no new material.
In 1999, the original members and some new members regrouped once again (yay!) for a new concept album known as The Seduction Of Claude Debussy. The group blended the music of French composer Claude Debussy with drum and bass, opera, hip hop, jazz, and narration provided by John Hurt!
This was the highpoint for the band. This is a dream come true for all AON fans and fans of classical music. The Seduction gave us a mixture of some original classical music while adding the band's own brand of surreal melodies. This could be their best album...so far.
The highlights include Il Pleure (At the Turn of the Century), Dreaming in Colour, On Being Blue, Continued in Colour (a continuation of Dreaming In Colour), Holy Egoism of Genius, and La FlÃ»te de Pan, most of which include soothing (but short) narration by John Hurt.
Easily the best song by AON during their career would have to be their 1988 single Kiss, a cover on the mildly-annoying Prince song of the same name. This cover featured a legendary collaboration with Tom Jones. It has a great beat and features bits from the band's other efforts, which makes it several other songs in one. Before you ask, yes. This is 10 times better than the Prince version.
After performing in live shows in the UK and US, the band dissolved once again. The next album that would released from them was And What Have You Done With My Body, God?, a 4-CD box set that mostly included demos, unreleased mixes, and works in progresses. Some of the songs are OK, but most of them just sound like the song over and over again.
So what's next for this innovative band? Well, it just so happens that they're all set up for a whole new ablum that's set for July 2010!
ZTT Records will release a retrospective album called Influence, which will include the hits, the collaborations, soundtracks and unreleased material spanning both the ZTT & China Records periods. It will be worth the wait...I hope.
For more information about this upcoming release go to the Latest News section of the authorised Art of Noise website. I hope it's a huge success that will hopefully inspire the band to make new stuff for the new generation.