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Who's Afraid Of The Art Of Noise CD+DVD, Collector's Edition, Extra tracks, PAL, Original recording remastered
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There's a telling moment during the bonus material included on this long-overdue reissue of Art of Noise's 1984 debut where, interviewed by the BBC's Richard Skinner during a live session, Paul Morley, the band's director, advises his colleague Anne Dudley: "Don't tell the truth!"
Art of Noise were all about mystery: the five-piece, normally photographed behind masks, were formed as an 'abstract' group by ZTT masterminds Trevor Horn and journalist Morley (credited as playing "paper") alongside ZTT studio mainstays Anne Dudley, JJ Jeczalik and Gary Langan. Their music was essentially a collection of sound collages built from samples processed by the brand new Fairlight synthesiser, including such diverse sources as Horn's former band Yes and recordings of a car engine. The artwork they employed - the ZTT aesthetic taken to its extreme - was also deliberately bewildering, with, for example, lyrics included for what is essentially an album of instrumentals. With Art of Noise, you see, the magic wasn't in who made the music, or how they did it: the magic was in the not knowing.
Remarkably, this debut was accessible enough to spawn hit singles, including Close (To the Edit) - arguably the only record ever to include the sound of a VW Golf stalling as its central motif - and Moments in Love, soon afterwards employed by Madonna for her wedding to Sean Penn. Both still sound remarkable: the synth tones may be overly familiar, but the bravado of Close (To the Edit) remains intact, as does the strange allure of its disembodied vocal samples; and Moments in Love - in all its 10-minute splendour - may be one of the most romantic tracks of the 1980s (rather than, as Morley describes it, "the sex song of the 20th century").
Beat Box, too, had proven influential in the development of hip hop when released in its original form a year earlier, but elsewhere Who's Afraid� was a fascinating but dizzying rush of ideas and noises adorning a largely familiar pop framework, a smuggling of avant-garde ideas and technology into the mainstream. Richard Skinner's enthusiastic questioning underlines just how inventive it was for the times, and one can only wonder what contemporary pop-pickers, lured into Art of Noise's world, can have made of the frenzied cut-and-paste of the title-track or the deeply atmospheric How to Kill, built around little more than sound effects and a voice repeatedly intoning "It's stopped". A bonus DVD confirms the brazen attempts at disorientation extended beyond the records themselves, with different versions of promotional videos, Morley's attempt at a live performance to compensate for Dudley, Jeczalik, and Langan's departure from the 'band' two weeks earlier, and Kenneth Williams providing voiceovers for TV advertisements. It's provocative and playful, even a quarter of a century later. After all, who needs truth when you have the Art of Noise?
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Top Customer Reviews
The album itself is still stunning. Before they turned their hand to more pop offerings like "Kiss" and "Dragnet", Art Of Noise were more of a sonic experiment in pioneering sampling, rather than a band, and there are some phenomenally odd moments. Despite this, some of probably their most famous tracks are on this album- "Moments In Love" (a glorious ten-minute-long version), "Beat Box" and "Close To The Edit".
The first disc is filled out with a couple of Radio 1 live sessions from 1984 and 1985. It's interesting to hear how AoN would have been regarded by Radio 1 and by the world at large, but apart from a medley of "Beat Box" into "Video Killed The Radio Star", musically it falls into the same category as the "And What Have You Done With My Body God?" box set- there are some interesting subtle differences that hardcore fans will appreciate, but no real undiscovered classics.
The DVD at first looks packed, with a tracklist longer than the CD- until you realise that it is predominantly various versions of the same two promo videos, "Close To The Edit" and "Moments In Love", in subtly different versions which again will fascinate the fans but leave the more casual viewer wondering why they're watching the fourth almost identical version of the same video.Read more ›
The DVD with extras is OK but not your main consideration for purchasing this. The "live" tracks/sessions on this disc are pretty horrific, what was the point of a "faceless" group playing tracks live again, I missed that irony?
Get the album. You'll love it!
It's still as fresh, witty, wierd and (occasionally) irresistibly danceable now as it was then.
I was amazed!! I was buying depeche, Human League, OMD etc... But I was not prepared for this album, Its mad, strange noises, short catchy melodies, left me thinking what the hell are these weirdo's thinking. But keep listening and some of the gem,s will stick! The single "close to the edit" fart noises and all is ok, but snapshot & backbeat still have it. As for Moments in love, its a timeless master piece (still on chill out albums today).
Only get this album if you liked, strange 80's stuff ,kraftwerk etc..
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Complete and utter dross from the most pretentious band ever. The complete antithesis of music by a talentless bunch of tossers.Published on 11 Jan. 2014 by tatsyrup
I have a terrible problem, called Trevor Horn. You see, I just wish he would let us know who, if anyone, he actually is. Is Horn the Buggles? Read morePublished on 27 Sept. 2012 by TQ2Boyz