Art of Noise—
Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Art of Noise have grasped that their music, such as it is, is merely the pretext for an “occasion”. Their first live appearance in London for over a decade was duly packed with tourists and people taking notes on Palm Pilots. You might say it was the triumph of presentation over content, except that the presentation was largely incomprehensible.
For this evening, Art of Noise comprised Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn and MC Paul Morley, with Lol Crème on guitar and Amanda Boyd shrieking. One striking thing about the Noise is how quaint their notion of electronica is. While Morley ranted about information overload like a cyber-guru from 1975 (“Faxes! Emails! Pagers!”), the band pumped out the kind of stuff Cabaret Voltaire gave up decades ago.
What of Morley’s claim that “it’s about ideas”? Hard to say. The show was based around the act’s fixation with Debussy, for whom they did few favours with last year’s album, The Seduction of Claude Debussy. There were gauche assertions like “Debussy didn’t believe in Beethoven, Wagner or the Beatles”, while the machinery battered away in the middle distance. They took some pity on the crowd by throwing in “classics” like Moments in Love and Close (To the Edit), which were received with rapturous bemusement. In years to come, we will be able to say “I was there!” while wishing we hadn’t been.