ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Who or what is The Art Of Noise?

Theyre a group but they dont have any members.

They share the same label as Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Frankies 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 dont exist. True, in the past they have made such fab ‘noises as the 12", “Into Battle With…”, the first release on Zang Tuum Tumbs Incidental Series, and “Beatbox (diversions one and two)”. Theres even an LP, “Whos Afraid Of The Art Of Noise”. None the less there exists no photograph of the men and women behind the Art Of Noise. Theres photos of spanners, flags, masks—yes. What we do have, though, are names (along with occupations and interesting personal details). Five of them appear on the sleeve: Gary Langan (“keyboards”, ABC producer, “often visits Australia”), Anne Dudley (“keyboards, string arranger on “The Lexicon Of Love”, “Duck Rock” and the next Frankie single, “interested in the clarinet”), J. J. Jeczalik (“keyboards”, weird name, “keen cricketer”), Trevor Horn (“keyboards”, resident ZTT producer, “goes boating in Bournemouth”) and Paul Morley (“paper”, resident ZTT bigmouth, copyright owner on all Frankie Say t-shirts—i.e. making lots of money—reads a lot). Around this nucleus revolves the mighty ZTT empire. All of them lend a hand or stick a nose into every ZTT record, remix, or what have you.

So as you would expect, an interview with the Art Of Noise couldnt possibly be a straightforward affair. On entering the speckeldy-blue ZTT complex, “somewhere in the Capital”, it occurs to me that Ive 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. Id got quite used to the prospect of the spanner. Morleys closely followed by Trevor Horn with news of—wait for it—the latest remix of “Relax”.

After a few moments Im 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 couldnt help noticing a distinct lack of people.

“Theyre over there,” points Paul. Im faced with four masks. “Pop musics supposed to be a world of adventure but we seem to have offended people. I mean whats the difference between having a mask or a spanner on your cover and having a picture of Tracey Ullman?

(cont.)
Only a spanners got better legs.”

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—they all pretend to be really arty. And intense—take John Waite, he looked so intense on Top Of The Pops but if you looked into his eyes you could tell he didnt have a thought in his head. Thats the sort of thing we hate.”

He adds that “90% of people in the music business have no intelligence—theyre just nice to everyone. In this context I have a bigger vocabulary than everyone else and I love babbling away thats why I decided to be the spokesperson”.

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 theres this—you either love it or you dont. The Art Of Noise are serious but completely playful. Were just seeing how far we can push things—re-defining what a pop group is.”

At this stage of development—previously he described the group as “German Industrialist”, then “hip hop”—he sees them as “Gods backing band. Inside the album sleeve is a picture of Mr and Mrs God. Thats where were at now.”

Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

And in the future? Their next single is a version of Buggles (Trevor Horns old group) “Video Killed The Radio Star”. Then theres the next LP, “Raiding The 20th Century”, which will “act like a radio aerial, picking up information from throughout the century”. And then theres the film, The Living End, screenplay by Morley, soundtrack by the Art Of Noise and directed by Godley & Creme. And to cap it off theyre 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. Its all about delight, private moments, ‘cos theyre the kind that bring on moments of enlightenment. Which is what were all about.”