Art of Noise
Art of Noise
Developing on their experience as studio musicians and producers, the members of Art of Noise created a group almost completely based on the electronic technology that moved into the mainstream in the 1980s. Their style influenced future trends in dance music well into the next decade. “In the early 80s, Art of Noise forged an eclectic mix of club grooves, atmospheric soundscapes, and rock panache that prefigured 90s techno and ambient,” wrote Matt Diehl in Entertainment Weekly.
Anne Dudley, Jonathan “J.J.” Jeczalik, and Gary Langan met through their work with noted 1980s producer Trevor Horn. They worked as musicians and producers for many film soundtracks and for other artists, such as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, ABC, Malcolm McLaren, Wham!, Billy Idol, and Paul McCartney. Following a grueling recording session with the band Yes, Horn and the trio decided to form a faceless band that would compose mostly instrumental collages of sound. “The reason we don’t show our faces is that there is a tendency for the music industry to sign haircut-and-faces bands with no regard for the music,” Dudley
Members include Anne Dudley (born May 7, 1956, London, England), keyboards; Jonathan “J.J.” Jeczalik (born May 11, 1955), keyboards, programmer; Gary Langan , engineer.
Band formed after a studio session with Yes, and signed with ZTT Records, 1984; released debut (Who’s Afraid of) The Art of Noise, 1984; signed with China Records, 1985; released In Visible Silence, 1986; released In No Sense? Nonsense!, 1987; released The Best of the Art of Noise, 1988; and Below the Waste, 1990; group disbanded, 1990.
Address: Record company —Discovery Records, 2052 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404; phone (310) 828–-1033; fax (310) 828–-1584.
explained to Jeff Burger in Keyboard. “We simply want people to listen to the music!”
Each member of Art of Noise added their own musical experiences and influences to the group. Langan was a fan of heavy rock, and brought an edge to their sound. Jeczalik loved classical music, especially Bach and Mahler. Dudley also enjoyed classical music, but also enjoyed pop, which brought more of a dance style to the mix. Dudley had also received a formal music education from London’s Royal College of Music. “I’m extraordinarily lucky to have received classical training,” Dudley told Bob Doerschuk in Keyboard. “Yet I’m also lucky to have worked with brilliant people in the pop world, such as Trevor Horn, who encouraged me to express myself and to be more creative and more daring than I would have ever imagined I could be.”
After forming in 1984 and in search of a name, Paul Morely of ZTT(Zang TuumTumb) Records, Horn’s label, suggested Art of Noise. He remembered the name from Russolo’s Futurist Manifesto, in which he distinguished the music of the machine in the 1910s. Art of Noise signed a recording contract with ZTT/Island a few months later and released their debut single “Beat Box,” which soared to number ten on Billboards R&B charts. By the end of 1984, they had released their debut album, (Who’s Afraid of) The Art of Noise.
The following year, their single, “Close to the Edit,” won the awards for Best Editing and Most Experimental at the second annual MTV Video Music Awards in New York. By the end of 1985, Art of Noise had split with Trevor Horn and left ZTT Records. They signed a new recording contract with China Records, and began working on their next album.
In July of 1986, Art of Noise released In Visible Silence on China/Chrysalis and the single, “Legs.” Mark Peel described the album in Stereo Review as, “an awesome demonstration of the state of the recording art,” declaring it, “the epitome of what, for better or worse, is happening to pop music in the electronic age.” The album included some collaboration as well. On “Paranoimia,” Art of Noise joined with the computerized television character Max Headroom. They were also joined by guitarist Duane Eddy, the “King of Twang, “for a cover version of Henry Mancini’s 1959 classic, “Peter Gunn.” The following year, Art of Noise’s “Peter Gunn” won Best Rock Instrumental Performance for an Orchestra, Group, or Soloist at the Grammy Awards. Mancini had won two Grammy awards for the same song in 1959.
The group headed back into the studio for their 1987 release, In No Sense?Nonsense!, continuing their mix of electronics, soundscapes, and musical instruments that resulted in their own style of “noise.” In describing the album for People Weekly, reviewer David Hiltbrand said, “Art of Noise have mixed sound effects (wind chimes, footsteps, voices), studio synthetics, and sporadic snippets of music into a jumble that could come from a Martian beat box.”
Art of Noise branched out into film music the next year, recording the main theme for Dragnet, starring Dan Ackroyd and Tom Hanks, as “Dragnet ’88.” They also contributed to the soundtrack for the comedy Disorderlies, starring fellow musicians the Fat Boys. Their big hit of the year, however, came from yet another collaborative remake. The group hooked up with singer Tom Jones for acover version of Prince’s 1986 song “Kiss.” The single climbed the charts to number five in the UK and number 31 in the U.S. The track appeared as the new song on their 1988 collection The Best of the Art of Noise.
Art of Noise released their next single in 1989 called “Yebo,” which featured the African group, Malathini & the Mahotella Queens. The song was remixed and reissued in 1995 by Ollie J. and Arkana, five years after the group released Below the Waste, the final album of the band’s career.
In July of 1990, the members decided to break up and go their own ways. While Anne Dudley and former Killing Joke singer Jaz Coleman collaborated to release Songs from the Victorious City, Jeczalik and Langan continued their own careers as producers and composers. Dudley followed suit within the year. All three members of the Art of Noise, though, had never completely left their own individual careers. They often worked on film soundtracks or with other artists, as well as their Art of Noise commitments.
The influence of the Art of Noise’s music lived on for years past the groups demise. In 1994, Off Beat Records released a revised version of The Best of the Art of Noise, with post-1988 music and without the ZTT tracks. In 1997, China/Discovery Records, released three The Best of the Art of Noise collections: The Ambient Collection, Drum and Bass Collection, and The FON Mixes. The latter featured Art of Noise songs that were remixed by various producers. Althoughthe group performed together for less than a decade, their offbeat exploration into electronic and nonmusical sounds inspired techno and dance artists well into the 1990s.
(Who’s Afraid of) The Art of Noise, ZTT/lsland Records, 1984.
In Visible Silence, China/Chrysalis Records, 1986.
In No Sense? Nonsense!, China/Chrysalis Records, 1987.
The Best of the Art of Noise, China/Polygram Records, 1988.
Below the Waste, China/Polygram Records, 1990.
The Best of the Art of Noise, Off Beat Records, 1994.
The Best of the Art of Noise: The Ambient Collection, China/Discovery Records, 1997.
The Best of the Art of Noise: Drum and Bass Collection, China/Discovery Records, 1997.
The Best of the Art of Noise: The FON Mixes, China/Discovery Records, 1997.
Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton, eds. Encyclopedia of Rock Stars, DK Publishing, New York, 1996.
Audio, May 1988.
Down Beat, September 1986.
Entertainment Weekly, January 17, 1997.
Guitar Player, October 1986.
Keyboard, September 1986, February 1989, April 1990.
People Weekly, May 5, 1986; December 7, 1987.
Rolling Stone, August 30, 1984.
Seventeen, August 1986.
Stereo Review, August 1986, December 1987.
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