Rolling Stone
David Fricke

Publication Date:
5th June 1986


The Art Of Noise ? China/Chrysalis
IN THE BEGINNG, THE ART OF NOISE was a brilliant concept, executed with mysterious efficiency and playful imagination. Educated in the mysteries of modem pop alchemy by producer Trevor Horn while working on hit Horn projects like Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock and ABC’s LP The Lexicon of Love, this trio of backup pros devel-oped a visceral otherworldly dub-funk sound based on intricate Burroughsian cutups of computer-synthesizer effects. What made the façade of smug dada hipness perpetrated by their record company - Horn's Zang Tuum Tumb operation - so bearable was the muscu-lar wallop and 3-D arrangements of AON's club hits "Beat Box" and “Close (To the Edit)”.
But with the disappointing In Visible Silence, its first album since deserting the ZTT camp, the Art of Noise – Anne Dudley, Gary Langan, Jonathan Jeczalik - has lost some of its subversive sparkle. For one thing the album suf-fers from a critical lack of tunes, or at least distinctive motifs. Tracks like the abstract voice-synth fragment “Opus 4” and "Eye of a Needle" - a campy jazz ballad with tingly vibes, a burping bass line and cash-register percus-sion - sound more like mathematically aligned combinations of unrelated sounds. And AON appears to be running out of combinations: "Legs" bears a suspiciously close resemblance to “Close (To The Edit),” while "Camilla” is a not-so-distant cousin to the am-bient make-out theme "Moments in Love" which already appeared on the group’s 83 EP and '84 LP.
The Art of Noise version of Henry Mancini’s "Peter Gunn" is a nice Piece of mischief, with a chessy, wobbling lead synthesizer and a spooky hubba-hubba vocal hook that sounds like a Martian bar band playing a Saturday night inter-planetary dance. It’s worth noting that AON recruited twang king Duane Eddy to reprise his famous guitar line from the original 1960 hit single. Obviously, the group realizes computer synthesizers can't reproduce everything. But unless they correct the ratio of sub-stance to sound effects on future records, the Art of Noise is just going to be a bunch of superficially clever session cats, the MFSB of the Eighties.
- David Fricke

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