Art of Noise
(Who's Afraid Of?) The Art Of Noise!


5.0
classic

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
March 24th, 2011 | 23 replies | 4,579 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A tidal wave of relentless oddball electronic experimentalism, The Art of Noise produce a listening experience like no others.

Most of the time music operates within boundaries. Boundaries that define the sound of the product, be that a definition of style, theme or genre. Sometimes this adherence to boundaries and limitations produces perfectly pleasurable listening experiences that, whilst sitting comfortably in an easily categoriseable genre, are completely successful. It’s not that fitting in a genre is a problem at all (far from it, in fact), but rather the inarguable fact that it can sometimes lead to a lack of experimentation and playfulness. So when ‘The Art of Noise’ released their full length debut LP in 1984, featuring nine utterly eclectic tracks that tampered with sound like few others, it was immediately clear that ’(Who’s Afraid of?) The Art of Noise!’ was something out of the ordinary.

‘The Art of Noise’ didn’t do simple, melodic pop music. They instead opted to play with sound like a cat plays with a ball of string - endlessly toying with it, never losing excitement or becoming bored. Anne Dudley and co. created a sense of frenetic uncertainty for listeners, swamping each track with so many samples, beats, rhythms and sheer oddities that it becomes difficult to ignore the exciting sensation of never knowing what sound is around the corner. It’s evident right from start to finish, including the opener, ’A Time for Fear (Who’s Afraid)’, introducing a blast of sleazy saxophone out of nowhere, only for it to disappear 10 seconds later, or the brilliant ’Beat Box (Diversion One)’, with what sounds like a distorted sample of a noisy car engine buzzing away in the dense background. Why these and countless other elements intrude without explanation? Who the Hell knows? It doesn’t matter because it’s unimportant - these aren’t easy pop songs - they’re complex soundboards of chaotic, oddball electronic experimentation.

‘(Who’s Afraid of?) The Art of Noise!’ never lets up its unrelenting experimentation, but also shows it’s intelligence, knowing how to pace itself with shorter, although nonetheless compelling tracks, like ‘Snapshot’ and ‘Momento’ appearing after lengthy, sprightly numbers like ‘Beat Box (Diversion One)’. An album of instrumental, experimentation is difficult to describe compared to ordinary pop songs with hooks and emotional connection points, other than to fire out a list of adjectives that jump to mind when pondering each track: It’s a bonkers, mad, ridiculous, odd, curious, funny, surprising, exciting and more than anything, amazing album.

Having already pointed out the unexpected nature of the album (as each track floats by spawning endless odd sound bites) it shouldn’t be a surprise that over half way in, after the eerie title track draws to a close, a completely left-field simple beat driven tune arrives in the form of ’Moments in Love’ - undoubtedly the standout track on album of many highs. It shouldn’t be a surprise but it is, with its downright seductive and sophisticated melody it sounds unlike anything else on the record, hence it’s surprise factor. But the more you think of it the more it makes sense and becomes easier to digest - this is an album full of unexpected turns and twists so why should be a surprise? The track itself takes a turn for the peculiar, when after 6 or 7 minutes it decides to thrown in an odd moans and groans chorus before fading back to its infectious rhythm. And that in itself is a perfect summation of this groundbreaking release. It’s a listening experience like no other, constantly pushing new ideas and sounds into its thick, layered collage of oddball noise. Overall, ‘(Who’s Afraid of?) The Art of Noise!‘ is highly recommend to those who wish to sink into an increasingly odd yet consistently compelling wave of early 80’s electronic experimentalism.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
iFghtffyrdmns
March 24th 2011



7047 Comments


Not that it really matters, but
"It’s not that fitting in a genre is a problem at all (far from it, in fact), but rather the inarguable fact that it can sometimes lead to a lack of experimentation and playfulness."
don't think that's actually a complete sentence, reread it and see if you notice that too.

other than that, another nice review tom. When ya gonna review something actually somewhat modern!? damn 80's fanboy :]

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

iFghtffyrdmns - Haha, thanks. The way i see it there's already enough users uploading reviews for modern music, so i'd like to think i provide a small ammount of balance reveiwing older stuff that seems to have been neglected somewhat, on this site. I may do some newer stuff one time...

In regards to your comment about the sentence, i did re-read and i take your point. Maybe a comma would be appropriate as oppossed to full stop and a new sentance?


scissorlocked
March 24th 2011



3479 Comments


that's pretty 80's stuff, and seems really good

Moments in love is fuckin essential

Digging: Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

'Moments in Love' is such a good song. It has a lush, luxiorous feel to it that few songs manage to capture.

Bitchfork
March 24th 2011



7584 Comments


Album sucks.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

My opinion is obviously the opposite but why do you think it sucks?

Bitchfork
March 24th 2011



7584 Comments


Because a majority of its listeners regard it as something that's a historic musical artifact rather than an enjoyable slice of '80s electro (which it's not, it's just a boring slice of ugly textures). The fact that it never was all that innovative in comparison to many of the other electro-techniques that were gaining steam in the '70s and the '80s just makes it out to be useless.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

But i did enjoy it. That's the nature of music, itself - it's subjective. With that in mind i suppose we're both right...


Judio!
December 21st 2013



3070 Comments


From what I've heard, these guys sound great. Will definitely need to give this a proper listen next chance I get.

Digging: Converge - You Fail Me

demigod!
December 21st 2013



40970 Comments


fuck you bitchfork

Judio!
December 21st 2013



3070 Comments


[2]

someguest
December 21st 2013



18859 Comments


I've played "Close (To The Edit)" a couple of times in plug.

Digging: BABYMETAL - Babymetal

demigod!
December 21st 2013



40970 Comments


everything ive heard off this has been amazing so far, gonna listen to it so hard

and 1984 goddamn

Judio!
December 21st 2013



3070 Comments


Wow, somehow did not notice the date.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
December 21st 2013



14482 Comments


i remember really liking close to the edit, need to check the album out now for sure

Digging: Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus

LilLioness
December 21st 2013



2428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Guys, I told you that "In the Evening Air" and "Metaforce" are on The Seduction of Claude Debussy. I was trying to demonstrate how much sput has failed in recognizing that album.

Judio!
December 21st 2013



3070 Comments


Sput has failed this band in more ways than one.

demigod!
December 21st 2013



40970 Comments


damn it had this album art and i guess i got confused

LilLioness
December 21st 2013



2428 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

XD the first song I played was "Close to the Edit"-the videogame sounding song.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
December 21st 2013



14482 Comments


thats the dum-dum-dudumdumdumdumd-dum song isnt it



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