Who or what is The Art Of Noise?
They’re a group but they don’t have any members.
They share the same label as Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Frankie’s producer Trevor Horn, and “spokesperson“ Paul Morley, seem to know an awful lot about them.
And so does Peter Martin.
Preposterous as it may seem, the Art Of Noise don’t exist. True, in the past they have made such fab ‘noises’ as the 12", “Into Battle With…”, the first release on Zang Tuum Tumb’s Incidental Series, and “Beatbox (diversions one and two)”. There’s even an LP, “Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise”. None the less there exists no photograph of the men and women behind the Art Of Noise. There’s photos of spanners, flags, masks—
So as you would expect, an interview with the Art Of Noise couldn’t possibly be a straightforward affair. On entering the speckeldy-blue ZTT complex, “somewhere in the Capital”, it occurs to me that I’ve never spoken to a mask before. Or, if it comes to that, a spanner.
After waiting a few moments I was introduced, somewhat disappointingly, to Paul Morley. I’d got quite used to the prospect of the spanner. Morley’s closely followed by Trevor Horn with news of—
After a few moments I’m ushered upstairs to meet the group proper. Was I excited! Directed into a large room packed with video equipment, zillions of Incidental and Action Series remixes and huge “Welcome To The Pleasure Dome” posters, I couldn’t help noticing a distinct lack of people.
“They’re over there,” points Paul. I’m faced with four masks. “Pop music’s supposed to be a world of adventure but we seem to have offended people. I mean what’s the difference between having a mask or a spanner on your cover and having a picture of Tracey Ullman?
That was Paul speaking, incidentally, not the masks.
“At least the Art Of Noise are a bit inventive and a little bit mad. Things are pretty straight-laced at the moment. We have a sense of irony and distance and just throw sounds together. And a lot of bands have tapped into that.” He cites Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti and Hall & Oates as examples. “We just parody the absurdity of pop stars. Savage Progress, Talk Talk, Tears For Fears—
He adds that “90% of people in the music business have no intelligence—
So where does he see the Art Of Noise in terms of the ZTT empire? “Frankie are the teenybop phenomenon, Propaganda are a kind of European intelligence and the Art Of Noise are saying there’s this—
At this stage of development—
Your guess is as good as mine on that one.
And in the future? Their next single is a version of Buggles’ (Trevor Horn’s old group) “Video Killed The Radio Star”. Then there’s the next LP, “Raiding The 20th Century”, which will “act like a radio aerial, picking up information from throughout the century”. And then there’s the film, The Living End, screenplay by Morley, soundtrack by the Art Of Noise and directed by Godley & Creme. And to cap it off they’re doing the music for a ballet.
“The possibilities now for a pop record are phenomenal,” he concludes. “The Art Of Noise just use the power of imagination. It’s all about delight, private moments, ‘cos they’re the kind that bring on moments of enlightenment. Which is what we’re all about.”