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A lovely re-mastered album, though the extras are a bit fragmented and for hardcore fans only
on 22 September 2011
This is a very welcome, budget-priced re-issue of the first Art Of Noise album, "Who's Afraid Of The Art Of Noise". If you already own an Art Of Noise album called "Daft", you might notice that it's almost the same album- the story of why the name "Daft" was used for the original CD release of the album is detailed in the sleevenotes, but apart from a couple of additional tracks on "Daft", yes this is the same album- now remastered with a bonus DVD.
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. Besides the promo clips from the first album, they've thrown on some material from the "Seduction Of Claude Debussy" era, as if there was nothing for AoN between those two albums- completely overlooking Art Of Noise's brilliant work throughout the rest of the 1980s into the early 90s. It feels a little bit too random a selection of whatever video clips they found in a cupboard, rather than a properly cared-for anthology.
The sleevenotes are essentially in two parts. The second part is an interesting and in-depth retrospective of how the first album came into being, which fits in nicely with the overall retrospective of their greatest hits 2CD set from last year. The first part is Paul Morley at his most... intense. I always preferred AoN as a musical offering rather than as an artistic statement so while the occasional soundbite and cryptic phrase on their album artwork from Morley helped add to the mystique, when Paul Morley starts to write about the Art Of Noise at length I'm afraid I rapidly lose interest and find it somewhat pretentious, and slightly at odds with the music. But at the current bargain price of the album, I'm not going to complain about that.