The new orchestra will achieve the most complex and novel aural emotions not by incorporating a succession of life-imitating noises but by manipulating fantastic juxtapositions of these varied tones and rhythms. Therefore an instrument will have to offer the possibility of tone changes and varying degrees of amplification.In 1984, inspired by concepts outlined in The Art Of Noises, a 1913 Futurist manifesto by Luigi Russolo [HTML version, PDF pamphlet version] and new music technology , a musician, a audio engineer, a programmer, a producer, and a music journalist came together to form one of the most influential music collectives of all time. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present for you, a definitive look at the Art Of Noise.
Trevor Horn (the producer):The stage is set, the people and the technology and the wherewithal have met; now we just need a triggering incident.Trevor Horn got his start in the music business in the mid-1970s with forgotten acts such as Fallen Angel And The Tina Charles Band, Boogatti, and Christopher J. Trevor And The Gnasher Bashers. The first production effort by Horn easily located online is from LIPS, Say Hello To My Girl. Many of these early efforts were done with Bruce Wooley and Rod Thompson (members of the first two acts already listed), and the three of them created The Killers, who released the single Killer (On The Dance Floor) in 1978. His other early production work includes John Howard (I Can Breathe Again/You Take My Breath Away, Big A (Carribbean Air Control), and Tina Charles (Makin' All The Right Moves). He achieved wide early success as a songwriter with the Dusty Springfield hit Baby Blue.Anne Dudley (the musician):
In 1979, Horn, Downes and Wooley recorded a demo for a song which they submitted to Island Records. It was immediately accepted, and eventually Video Killed The Radio Star would become a number one hit in 16 countries.
(Wooley left the band before this success, to form Bruce Wooley And The Camera Club (a band which featured long-time drummer Rod Thompson, Matthew Seligman, and a very young Thomas Dolby!). They recorded their own version of Video Killed The Radio Star, but the band only ever released one album.)
The Buggles' first album, The Age Of Plastic, was a concept album examining modern life in the face of rapidly changing technology. It wasn't a huge success, but the strength of the lead-off single combined with its airing as the first (prophetic?) video on the first day of MTV two years later cemented its place in pop music history. It did become an early litany of the production which Horn would use throughout his career. It also set into motion a chain of events which would lead to Art Of Noise.
While working on a second album for The Buggles, Horn found he was working in the studio next to the band Yes, who were working on their first album after the departure of Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson. Chris Squire was a fan of The Age Of Plastic, and asked Horn and Downes to sit in with the band in the studio. They were eventually invited to join the band, and Drama ended up being the first Yes album produced by Trevor Horn. This blending of bands resulted in tracks being recorded by both bands for their respective albums (The Buggles - I Am A Camera, Yes - Into The Lens), and cemented a relationship between Yes and Trevor Horn which would last across several albums.Anne Dudley seems to have first worked with Trevor Horn on 1979's Star To Star, a space disco album by Chromium (The Chrome in the US), where she played keyboard along with Geoff Downes. This was remake of some tracks from the Big A project (including the space disco classic Fly On UFO), and is regarded by some as the proto-Buggles album because of the Horn/Downes collaboration with the songwriting and production style.Gary Langan (the audio engineer):
Dudley was quickly taken into the Trevor Horn fold, adding keyboard work to Beatnik, a track on The Buggles' second album, Adventures In Modern Recording.
It was during the recording of ABC's The Lexicon Of Love, however, where Anne really began to shine. She wrote the orchestrations for songs such as The Look Of Love and played keyboard across the album, including on hits such as Poison Arrow. It was during these recording sessions where Dudley and Horn cemented a mutual interest with Gary Langan and J.J. Jeczalik in exploring the possibilities of the Fairlight CMI.
Other examples of Dudley's early 80s work as a studio musician can be heard on Wham's Bad Boys and Young Guns (Go For It!).Gary Langan got his start as an assistant in the control room during the recording of Queen's A Night At The Opera album. He was soon an engineer in his own right, and he helped shape the sound for many albums mentioned above, including The Buggles' second album, Yes' Drama, and ABC's The Lexicon Of Love. The working relationship he had developed with Trevor Horn during this time as his go-to engineer led him to be involved with many of Horn's projects such as Dollar (e.g. Mirror Mirror).J.J. Jeczalik (the programmer):J.J. Jeczalik met Geoff Downes early on and began programming his Fairlight CMI (one of the first few ever made), even serving as roadie and production staff for Downes when he went on tour with Yes for the Drama album. He became Trevor Horn's personal Fairlight programmer soon after that, and developed skills in the brand new art of sampling and sequencing which would form the bedrock of Art Of Noise.Paul Morley (the music journalist):Paul Morley began writing for New Musical Express around the time Trevor Horn got started in music. He was instrumental in promoting what was known as New Pop, and his articles had influenced not only fans but also musicians during the post-punk transition in the UK. His writing of this period has been collected in the book Ask: The Chatter Of Pop (sadly out of print). His 2005 book Words And Music: A History Of Pop In The Shape Of A City was adapted into a collaboration with DJ Food -- Raiding The 20th Century: a sweeping epic across popular music which is enlightening, stunning, and a bit of an endurance test.Fairlight CMI and Page R (the technology):The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was developed in 1979, and was an attempt to generate sounds by modeling waveforms in real time. This really was pushing the limits of technology at the time, but the real strength of the device was it was that real waveforms could be sampled and played back using the device. Early models could only sample at 24kHz, so the sounds were raw, but the results were unlike anything ever heard before. Truly, if any single development were crucial to beginning to fulfill the ideas of Russolo, this was it. A demonstration of the Fairlight CMI from 1980 shows how it operates. Peter Gabriel plays with his new toy in 1982. Herbie Hancock demonstrates his Fairlight CMI on Sesame Street in 1984, and then later to Quincy Jones.Zang Tuum Tumb Records (the label):
The real secret of the Fairlight CMI was Page R, the sequencer which allowed programmers like Jeczalik to create complicated arrangements of different sounds which the instrument would then play back on demand. Watch a Page R sequence in action.
Today, anyone with an iPad can download either a basic or a Pro Fairlight app and have access to cutting-edge 1980s technology which revolutionized the way music is made.ZTT Records was founded in 1983 by Trevor Horn, his wife Jill Sinclair, and Paul Morley. It achieved phenomenal success right out of the gate with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Art Of Noise, and Propaganda. Over time, they would also release works by Grace Jones, Seal, and Kirsty MacColl, to name a very few.
The Zang Tuum Tumb Years
(Who's Afraid Of?) The Art Of Noise!:A Time For Fear (Who's Afraid?), Beat Box (Diversion One), Snapshot, Close (To The Edit), Who's Afraid (Of The Art Of Noise?), Moments In Love, Momento, How To Kill, RealizatonArt Of Noise had obviously begun to achieve their goals -- they had hit songs in various corners of the globe, they had redefined music and music production, and they were continually confounding anyone who wanted to put them into a box and define them. Thanks to the Fairlight CMI, they were indeed making noise musical, and making music into noise. But what happened next is a moment which will live forever as a true rock-and-roll moment for such a post-punk synthesizer-based avant garde band.
Bonus Track: A Time For Fear (J.J.'s 12" Remix), Close (To The Edit) live (performed in masks, as AON did in their early years)
When it was announced that they were going to perform as part of a ZTT package show entitled The Value Of Entertainment for a two week run at a London West End theatre, it seemed too good to be true. And sure enough, it was. Too good to be true, that is. The Art Of Noise's contribution to the show was a trio of dancers performing to a backing tape of Beat Box and Close (To The Edit), bookending a hilariously bitter stand-up lecture by Paul Morley. His theme was the tension that existed between the Art Of Noise as a concept and as a group of working musicians, and how we'd obviously come to the show expecting the latter when we were only going to get the former.But this didn't spell the end of Art Of Noise. Not by a long shot. Dudley, Jeczalik and Langan moved over to China Records. And while AON entered an era where their pure influence waned, their pop hit making power reached its full potential.
In fact, the truth only emerged a few weeks later: Dudley, Jeczalik and Langan - the three people in the band who actually, you know, did the music - had walked out before the show, leaving Horn and Morley in the lurch and forcing them to improvise wildly. The show officially marked the end of the Art Of Noise as a concept.*
The China Years
In Visible Silence: Opus 4, Paranoimia, Eye Of A Needle, Legs, Slip Of The Tongue, Backbeat, Instruments Of Darkness, Peter Gunn (featuring Duane Eddy), Camilla: The Old, Old Story, The Chameleon's Dish, BeatbackArt Of Noise was commissioned to do a new theme song for series two of The Max Headroom Show. This led to a new mix of Paranoimia featuring Max Headroom, which spent nine weeks on the charts, topping out at #12 in the UK and at #34 in the US. The single contained Paranoimia (Extended Version), Paranoimia, Why Me? and A Nation Rejects. The success of this single led to the US release of In Visible Silence being reworked, replacing the original instrumental version of Paranoimia with the Max Headroom extended version. CD releases of the album also included Peter Gunn (The Twang Mix) as a bonus track.
Bonus: Deconstruction of the vocal samples used in Instruments Of Darkness
In No Sense? Nonsense! [played here from vinyl -- cd versions differ in running order and length]: Galleons Of Stone; Dragnet; Fin Du Temps; How Rapid?; Opus For Four; Debut; E.F.L.; Ode To Don Jose; A Day At The Races; Counterpoint; Roundabout 727; Ransom On The Sand; Roller 1; Nothing Was Going To Stop Them, Anyway; Crusoe; One EarthThe following year only saw two new releases by Art Of Noise. The first was Dragnet (The '88 Mix), a single put out to coincide with the UK release of the film. The single featured Dragnet (Arto Of Noise '88 12" mix), Dragnet (Arthur Baker House Mix), and Action Art. The second single from 1988 saw Art Of Noise once again taking on an outside collaborator and covering a song which had already been a hit. Kiss, featuring Tom Jones, recast Prince's slinky falsetto sung, sparsely instrumented track into a giant bombast of a track, and it had immediate worldwide appeal, reaching the top 20 or even the top 10 in many countries. The Kiss single featured the tracks Kiss (The Battery mix), Kiss (7" Version) [terrible video quality], and E.F.L. [DailyMotion links because Prince gets grumpy about having his music on YouTube] Other versions included Kiss (Art Of Noise Mix) and various other tracks from earlier AON releases as b-side tracks.
Below The Waste: Dan Dare, Yebo!, Catwalk, Promenade 1, Dilemma, Island, Chain Gang, Promenade 2, Back To Back, Flashback, Spit, Robinson Crusoe, James Bond Theme, FinaleIn 1990, Art Of Noise announced they had completed the last two tracks they would create. Cassandra and I'm A Stranger Here Myself were created for the film Alien Nation, but were never used. With Below The Waste as a goodbye, and Finale as their last formal track, AON bid the world farewell.
Bonus: James Bond Theme (The Living Daylights Mix)
The FON Mixes: Instruments Of Darkness (All Of Us Are One People) (The Prodigy Mix), Shades Of Paranoimia (The Carl Cox Mix), Roller 10 (The Rhythmatic Mix), Yebo (A Mark Gamble Mix), Back To Backbeat (The Robert Gordon Mix), Dragnet And Peter Gunn Have A Day At The Races (A Mark Gamble Mix), I Of The Needled (The Sweet Exorcist Mix), L.E.F. (The Mark Brydon Mix), Legs (The Graham Massey Mix), Catwalk (The Ground Mix), Ode To A D.J. (A Mark Gamble Mix), Crusoe (The LFO Mix), The Art Of Slow Love (Compiled, Remixed And Additional Production By Youth) (Slow Concept By Phil Barber), No Sun (A Mark Gamble Mix)Other compilation albums were released, including new, reshuffled versions of The Best Of The Art Of Noise and new remixes of Yebo! (Yebo! (Ollie J Remix), Yebo! (Arkama Dub Mix))
The Drum And Bass Collection: Something Always Happens, Ode To Don Jose, Art Of Love, Yebo, Opus 4, Island, Camilla The Old Old Story, Kiss (Haitian Vampire Mix), Eye Of A Needle, Peter Gunn, CrusoeState Of The Art would be the last Art Of Noise release from China Records, as it was swallowed by Warner Music and vanished.
artofsilence.co.uk [sadly not as much available online as one might hope]: West 4, 4:34 AM, Who Are You?, Giant Below, Giant Above, Giant Within, Messenger Of Heaven, Fear No Malice, Some Other DreamAfter the release of this album, J.J. Jezalik announced his retirement from the music industry.
Bonus: West 4 Video, West 4 (Crowd Control Dub)
Again with ZTT
The Seduction Of Claude Debussey: Il Pleure (At The Turn Of The Century), Born On A Sunday [here in a live version], Dreaming In Colour, On Being Blue, Continued In Colour, Rapt: In The Evening Air, Metaforce, The Holy Egoism Of Genius, La Flûte De Pan, Metaphor On The Floor, Approximate Mood Swing No. 2 [YouTube user created video], Pause, Out Of The World (Version 138)The album was highly regarded by critics, but didn't make much of a splash with the record-buying public. Some editions came with a second disk (later made available for individual purchase), Reduction, a group of outtakes and remixes from the album.
Bonus: EPK for The Seduction Of Claude Debussey featuring interviews with the band and John Hurt, Born On A Sunday (life on Talk Music), The Holy Egoism Of Genius (live on Talk Music)
Bonus: Trevor Horn talks (for three hours!) in 2011 about his early work up to and into his Art Of Noise years [Part 1, Part 2]. Shockingly extensive Art Of Noise Discography.
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