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Electronic - Released December 15, 1986 | ZTT Records

The place for Art of Noise neophytes to start, Daft collects (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise! and Into Battle with the Art of Noise, along with two reworkings of "Moments in Love" from the original U.K. release of that song, to make a fantastic hour's worth of music. If anything, a single or two aside, Daft beats out the official Best Of compilation by a mile. Having aged superbly with time, AON's early works sound all the more advanced and of the moment, a testament especially to Trevor Horn's excellent production and Anne Dudley's gripping arrangements. Further entertainment comes from the liner notes, which aren't merely state-of-the-art 1984 album design but an apparently barbed attack on the further incarnation of the band from one Otto Flake. The exact seriousness of this is up to the reader. As for the "Moments in Love" versions, both are gentler and more elegant than the already lush original, and none the worse for that, though "(Three Fingers Of) Love" does have rather disconcerting sound effects added to it. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released August 6, 2021 | WM UK

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Progressive Rock - Released April 14, 1986 | WM UK

AON hit their stride with the release of this record, while showing their colors in the choices of material -- while the usual offbeat AON elements were present, so was "Peter Gunn," with Duane Eddy guesting on guitar. Another AON hit, "Legs," was present, as was the original version of "Paranoimia," enhanced in its single versions by the addition of routines from Max Headroom performed by Matt Frewer, who would later play the digital ding-a-ling on a short-lived TV series. The Frewer versions replaced the original on some pressings, including the original CD, but the original version has since been restored, with both Frewer versions now confined to best-of collections. © Steven McDonald /TiVo
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Electronic - Released June 19, 1984 | ZTT Records

Art of Noise's first full album, (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise!, consolidated the future shock of the earlier EPs and singles in one entertaining and often frightening and screwed-up package. Rarely has something aiming for modern pop status also sought to destroy and disturb so effectively. The most legendary song is still "Close (To the Edit)," benefiting not merely from the innovative video but from its strong funk groove and nutty sense of humor in the mostly lyric-less vocals, not to mention the "hey!" vocal hook the Prodigy would sample for "Firestarter." Its close cousin, the title track, brilliantly blends a nagging bass synth, echoed drum, and percussion fills and constantly shifting vocal cut-ups, random noises, and strange melodies. They're just two highlights on this prescient release, though. Part of the thrill of Who's Afraid is the sense of juxtaposition and playing around, something still not very common in music and even less so in the pop music genre. The blunt political protest of "A Time for Fear (Who's Afraid)" and the more abstract "How to Kill," achieved via appropriate sampling, slams right up against the rough beat sonics and serene orchestration. If such material had appeared on Rephlex or even DHR in the mid- to late '90s, few would have been surprised. Things aren't all dour and gloomy, though; "Beat Box" captures heavy grooves from said source with quirky vocal bits and soft vibes. Patented Trevor Horn orchestral stabs surface throughout, while Anne Dudley's knack for gentler shadings and dramatic arrangements also comes through clearly, something that would surface ever more strongly in her freelance production career. The full ten-minute version of "Moments in Love" is perhaps her triumph here, a seemingly pretty instrumental turned increasingly strange. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 1, 1988 | EastWest U.K.

As an overview of Art of Noise's brief output, this best-of can't be beat, though it does inadvertently track their slide from forerunners to recyclers and cultural panderers. The 1-2-3 rush of "Beat Box," "Moments in Love," and "Close (To the Edit)" make this CD worth the money already -- at the time of their release, these singles swiped electronic music back from America (by way of Germany) and cut the whole thing up with ridiculous samples (a car starting, the omnipresent orchestral hit) and enjoyable art school posturing. It was like Dada had invaded the charts, circa 1984. But soon, after their break with ZTT and joining China Records, it wasn't long until they were parodying themselves and trying to score pop hits with a recognizable "sound." Singles featured older pop stars trying to score a hit again (Duane Eddy on "Peter Gunn," Tom Jones on "Kiss"), current celebrities riding their own popularity wave (Max Headroom), or cover songs gussied up with a few more car starting sounds (the made-for-hire "Dragnet '88," used in the regrettable film remake). The vinyl version contains the (sometimes preferable) single mixes; the CD and cassette contain 12" remixes, good for the collector, bad on the patience. A similarly covered CD, only in pink (and released two years later), is also called "The Best Of" but focuses more on the group's album tracks. © Ted Mills /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1989 | Rhino

Following the multi-instrumental flair of In No Sense? Nonsense!, 1989's Below the Waste showed the Art of Noise almost completely ditching their elliptical art-punk roots for worryingly stylized, low-key ambient compositions that bordered on world mall-music. The now fully emerged fusion of village chants, ground percussion, rumbling guitars, jumpy handclaps, and mostly generic machine sound showed considerable personal growth, but the band seemed unqualified for it. The textures of the album were all wrong, from the puffed-up, intrigue-free cover of the James Bond theme to the Ron Grainer-like dribble of flutey jazz of "Island" and the dated and cringingly fake synth-thunderclaps in "Dilemma." A misfire. © Dean Carlson /TiVo
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Electronic - Released August 7, 2006 | ZTT Records

3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he final disc, reissuing the group's EPs for the first time, remains a modern, deeply influential wonder." © TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1990 | Rhino

Discovery Records, just before its demise, did a great and wondrous thing by putting out four, count them, four Art of Noise CDs in one fell swoop. Art of Noise began in the mid-'80s and is now a touchstone to which all electronic music should be compared. While compiling their own collections, Discovery Records was able to take advantage of a excellent compendium ready for reissue. Ambient Collection had long been a jewel in many vinyl collections. These Art of Noise catalog remixes by Youth, bassist for Killing Joke, remain a classic of compositional ambient electronica. One of the themes to this ambient opus is explicitly stated in "Robinson Crusoe" and hinted at elsewhere. Art of Noise's Anne Dudley had mentioned just before the original 1990 release on a GLR Radio U.K. program that French composer Robert Mellin's main theme for "Robinson Crusoe" recalled here was one of her Top Ten favorite pop songs. © Tom Schulte /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1987 | Rhino

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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1986 | Rhino

AON hit their stride with the release of this record, while showing their colors in the choices of material -- while the usual offbeat AON elements were present, so was "Peter Gunn," with Duane Eddy guesting on guitar. Another AON hit, "Legs," was present, as was the original version of "Paranoimia," enhanced in its single versions by the addition of routines from Max Headroom performed by Matt Frewer, who would later play the digital ding-a-ling on a short-lived TV series. The Frewer versions replaced the original on some pressings, including the original CD, but the original version has since been restored, with both Frewer versions now confined to best-of collections. © Steven McDonald /TiVo
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Electronic - Released January 19, 2004 | ZTT Records

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Electronic - Released June 28, 1999 | ZTT Records

More than ten years after the Art of Noise left Trevor Horn's ZTT label to record on their own, original members Anne Dudley and Paul Morley reunited with Horn plus 10cc's Lol Creme to record another LP, organized around the work of French modernist composer Claude Debussy. With a guest list including John Hurt as well as Rakim, the album charts the artistic use of sampled breakbeats -- pioneered by the Art of Noise themselves -- with nods to '80s hip-hop plus their '90s equivalent, drum'n'bass. Though the Art of Noise doesn't sound quite as brash as they did in their '80s prime, The Seduction of Claude Debussy is an interesting showcase of what made the group great. © Keith Farley /TiVo
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Electronic - Released August 7, 2006 | ZTT Records

3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he final disc, reissuing the group's EPs for the first time, remains a modern, deeply influential wonder." © TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1990 | Rhino

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Progressive Rock - Released June 25, 2021 | WM UK

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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1987 | Rhino

In No Sense? Nonsense! contains some of the Art of Noise's most compelling work. With this album, Anne Dudley and company expanded their new wave experiments to include more instrumental firepower. In addition to full rock band production (including electric guitars, drums, and synthesizers), this record makes use of brass band, orchestral, and choral music. The result is about as rich and complex as they ever got. In No Sense? Nonsense! is probably best known as the album that included their take on the theme from the '50s cop show Dragnet, used in the 1987 film version that starred Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks. That track is certainly the most accessible on the record, but it somehow seems a little too punchy for the primary ambient pop surroundings. It might fit better on a different album. This record is more notable for tracks like "How Rapid?" and "Opus for Four" that engage in fanciful genre blending. At times, the sound almost begins to anticipate later ambient dance artists like Enigma and DJ Shadow. But the Art of Noise are aptly named and consequently limited. Their artful noise collage lacks the visceral impact afforded by those later bands. In No Sense? is more often interesting than beautiful. © Evan Cater /TiVo
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Progressive Rock - Released January 1, 1991 | Rhino

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Progressive Rock - Released July 23, 2021 | WM UK

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Progressive Rock - Released May 12, 2017 | Rhino

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Progressive Rock - Released July 9, 2021 | WM UK

Art of Noise's brilliant new wave pop re-working of Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn theme became a surprise smash in the British pop charts in 1986, scoring a berth in the top 10 that is exceedingly rare for an instrumental song. Of course, they had fine material to work from. Mancini's tune, with it's memorable opening bass riff and it's powerfully bursting brass melody, has long ranked among the best theme songs in television history. Art of Noise brought it into the '80s by adding a driving drum backing, electric guitar, spacey synth bridges and quirky sampled and synthesized noises. The tune is immaculately timed, building from the rich guitar opening, provided by the remarkable Duane Eddy, to a blustery brass climax and starting again. This 12" single also includes an extended version of "Peter Gunn," which, you may be surprised to learn, does not get old after six minutes. There is also an unremarkable instrumental track called "Something Always Happens" that mixes '70s vibraphones, strings, synthesizers and samples of almost inaudibly mumbled phrases that include the words Art of Noise. For those who dig the title track but don't have much patience for experimental sound collage, the single may be sufficient. Those who already own In Visible Silence or The Best of the Art of Noise will probably want to pass on the single. © Evan Cater /TiVo