Art of Noise

Of all the groups that define electronic music, with the possible exception of Kraftwerk, the Art of Noise have perhaps enjoyed the most sustained and interesting existence. They were a five-piece to start off with, back in 1983. Gary Langan and JJ Jeczalik had discovered the amazing potential of samples, loops and mixing found sounds into pop music. Anne Dudley added a layer of melody, Trevor Horn the production and Paul Morley the presentation.

Chapter one lasted from until 1985 and produced the landmark album (Who’s Afraid of) the Art of Noise?, the legendary EP Into Battle with the Art of Noise and three singles: Moments in Love, Beat Box, and Close (to the Edit). The version of Moments in Love here is the 7” A-side which has never been released on an Art of Noise album before.

Then came Art of Noise chapter two. Anne, JJ and Gary defected to China Records and scored more commercial success than ever with singles like Peter Gunn (with Duane Eddy) and Paranoimia (with Max Headroom).

With AoN about to head out to tour the world, Gary Langan exited the line-up, making way for Art of Noise chapter three, Anne  and JJ. They released two albums: In No Sense? Nonsense!(1987) and Below the Waste (1989). In between they issued the The Best Of The Art of Noise and, when looking for a new lead single for the compilation, recorded Kiss with Tom Jones, scoring their biggest hit ever when it reached #5 UK in October 1988.

Chapter four came about when Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley reconvened to make an experimental album inspired by Claude Debussy. Paul Morley came back on board, and Trevor drafted in long-term collaborator Lol Creme. The result was 1999’s The Seduction of Claude Debussy, with its lead single, Metaforce, featuring Rakim.

Their sources were scientific, their methods were artistic. They were breaking beats, setting up house, gliding through mental landscapes. They were masked, mechanical and, funnily enough, made up. Their image was daring, anonymous and addictive, and has more than stood the test of time. The music hasn’t just stood the test of time but fed the time that has passed; the Art of Noise are one of the most sampled groups in history and their influence will be felt for years to come.