Classic Rock Review

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Art Of Noise Daft (1984)


Review With their combination of production wizardry, experimentalism and ability to make a hummable tune out of just about anything.

The Art Of Noise were as pretentious as their name suggests, but a whole lot more fun. This compilation takes in all the essential early stuff the group did on their original label ZTT – not only the whole of their first proper LP “Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise?” but also the pick of their debut EP “Into Battle” and a couple of (excellent) 12″ mixes of the classic “Moments In Love”.

The Fairlight sampler was the group’s instrument of choice (indeed the Art Of Noise were one of the first groups to bring the sampler to public attention) and their use of “found sounds” is ingenious and often surprisingly danceable, particularly on the breakout hits “Close To The Edit” and “Moments In Love”.

The fact that the latter track has appeared on a million “moods”-type compilation albums is testament to its sheer loveliness, but it is all too easy to forget what a brilliantly-constructed piece of music, and of art, it really is.

Hearing it alongside a selection of The Art Of Noise’s other work gives a whole new perspective on it, and reminds you that there is an underlying sinister-ness to it, all clanking prison chains and insistent “now! now! now!” hectoring.

This combination of beauty and cruelty is a common Art Of Noise trick, employed to good effect on tracks like the atmospheric “Realisation” and military-themed “In The Army Now” and “A Time For Fear”. Even their catchiest moment, “Close To The Edit”, misquotes poet Robert Browning’s “Home Thoughts From Abroad” in a distinctly unsettling way.

But lest anyone should think the Art Of Noise were all about darkness, it should be pointed out that there’s a lot of light here too – the joyful “Snapshot” (present in extended form) and the wonderful, endlessly inventive “Beatbox Diversion One” will put a smile on anyone’s face and a tapping in anyone’s feet.

On the down side, this material is nearly 20 years old now, and it shows. The experimental pop noise of yesteryear cannot be expected to still sound state-of-the-Art two decades on. Even so, it’s hard not to marvel at the imagination that went into this music. It may sound a little dated in the 21st century, but the beats still work, and when you hear “Daft” you know that what you’re getting is the true, original article.

Review There has never been another group like the Art of Noise, and all their best work is on this CD.

It includes the whole first album, with the original long versions of “Close To The Edit” and “Beatbox”, as well as the rare EP “Into Battle”, plus the lush remixes of “Moments In Love” that were originally released as a 12″ single. Sadly, the group rapidly went into artistic stagnation from the second album onwards (covering “Peter Gunn” was never going to rock the world), as they merely repeated their unique sound to less effect every time.

Even worse were the techno makeovers of their music in the 90’s, which bore no relation to the original style. Their remarkable and innovative genius is completely showcased in this must-have package.

Review This is an essential for the AoN fans of the older Zang Tumm Tumb days….it is actually a conglomeration of three records: Into Battle, Who’s Afraid, and the Moments In Love maxi-EP containing four versions of the fabled track.

I find it extremely convenient to have all these wonderful and timeless tracks on one CD, but I have one major quibble which prevents me from giving it all five stars: Why the absence of the original Beat Box? Since Into Battle is no longer available in the states, it is quite difficult to find the original version of Beat Box, and are left instead with the silly and long-winded “Diversion One” which is found on damn near every AoN compilation I’ve seen.

Luckily I have Into Battle on vinyl, but it would have been nice to have this one on digital. Overall, a must-have for the conniseur of fine electronic music and art-rock. The Art Of Noise meddle…the Art Of Noise bang and clang….. Between Jest And Earnest….between love and war….between now and then……Hummmmm along with the AoN!

June 3, 2013 - Posted by | Art Of Noise Daft |

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