This is the long-awaited box set of rare, unheard of demos, mixes and remixes from one of the most influential groups of the 1980s - Art of Noise.
The first two CDs - "The Very Start of Noise" and "Found Sounds & Field Trips" - are mainly snatches of what was to be rather than what is. There are, though, several tracks that have had the spit and polish treatment and one feels that all that is missing is one of the fantastic singles covers and then you would have an early Close (to the Edit) (a version 0.9, perhaps?).
The third CD - "Who's Afraid of... Goodbye" - is billed as an alternative version of "Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise" and delivers exactly as promised. Again, this feels as if it could have been a proper release. The CD is finished off with a few tracks created round about the time of The Split.
The fourth CD - "Extended Play" - is a compilation of the various albumettes released during the ZTT years and allows the collector to complete his collection.
There is also a 32-page book that has an introduction to each CD in the collection and then what appears to be verbatim dialogue from a round table session with all five members. Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn, JJ Jeczalik, Gary Langan and Paul Morley all seem to get along rather nicely now and seem to enjoy remembering how all of the tracks came about.
The box set itself is a hard back book with digipack CD holders attached to the inside covers (two at the front and two at the back) which seems extremely well made. The book is very glossy and looks expensive. My only criticism is that it is too big for the CD shelf.
But that is Art of Noise to a tee - they start off with normality and twist it into something that little bit different, that little bit skewed, especially the title "And What Have you Done With My Body, God?" After all, what's wrong with "The Complete Art of Noise" or "Art of Noise: the ZTT Years"? I'll tell you. Art of Noise are different, special and completely un-boring, unconventional, un-normal, un-anything.
Is it worth it? For a hardcore fan, yes, the box set is worth it - it contains many hours of tracks that only existed as rumours. For somebody who likes Art of Noise, yes, it probably is. For somebody who doesn't know who they are, try "Daft" first and then buy this.
Now, when's "The Art of Noise: the China Years" due out?