Melody Maker
Paul Mathur

Publication Date:
19th April 1986


China Records

SO it’s THE Art Of Noise now is it? Addition of the definitive article does not hide an alarming slump into powerpop abandon and things beneath the dreadful post-modernist sleeve look far from beautiful.

Another Art Of Noise, a million miles away, made a record once called “Into Battle…”. It was the sound of clinking armour in a renaissance picture, a celebration and pursuance of a certain stricture, a necessary discipline. Art Of Noise were difficult, dry, desirable, and for a while could pound and tinkle with almost unbelievable arrogance.

But then, choking back the bile from a necessarily punishing exercise, the faceless Dudley/Jeczalik/Langan folk decided they’d rather be on the cover of Smash Hits than two chisels and a spanner. This was a bit like the man who comes to fix your telly saying he’d like Terry Wogan’s job, and was doomed to failure from the start.

And so, we get this. “In Visible Silence”, a title both emphasising and negating any search for the gaps between the noises, but also dishonestly suggesting a focussed concern that is never evident throughout the record.

The opener, “Opus 4” is a piece for voices punning and folding but untimately nothing more than earnest whispers on the wind, preparing for the overblown assault of “Paranoimia”/Eye Of A Needle”. There’s none of the group’s earlier conciseness evident on the songs and you’re tempted to think that maybe this is all they’ve got. Lordy, there’ll be choruses next.

And up sprints “Legs” with its eye to the charts and its legs waving about in the air. I can’t stop thinking about “It’s A Knockout” for every single second that this record is on. Thankfully the ensuing “Slip Of The Tongue”/”Backbeat” team that follow hint that when they stop thinking what people in the A&R department will say, The Art Of Noise are still capable of goodness.

“Camilla - The Old Old Story” is, as the name suggests, a rewrite of “Moments In Love” without the love and the moments, whereas the rest begs to be laid to rest somewhere between Brians Eno and Adams.

The Art Of Noise has become nothing more than a pop paint by numbers. Sort of sad really.


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