Art of Noise is an Avant-Garde Sampling Troup formed from the original SMARMY West Studio staff in the 1980s. They were the future of sampling until 'House' music arrived and ruined it for everyone. Mainly noted for producing many 12" vinyls from one piece of expensive equipment (Searchlight CMI) that only one person in the world knew how to program; and for wearing masks.
SMARMY Studios owner Horny Trev had bought the most expensive piece of kit ever made (Searchlight CMI (Completely Mad Instrument)) because his mate Kate Bush had one. He set his staff the task of producing 12" records out of hours to recoup the cost. Upon hearing the results they called themselves Art of Noise.
The original line up:
Horny Trev - because he owned the kit. JJ Jay Jay J - The only person boring enough to read the CMI manual cover to cover. Anne from Dudley - The only person who could read music. Gary Long-one - The only person who had keys to the mixing desk. Paul Morosely - A depressed Journalist who was happy to promote anything and the only member allowed to talk to anyone as Anne's Dudley accent was indecipherable, JJ pretended he only spoke Polish, Gary would only record things and Trevor was too Horny.
Who's Afraid of Horny Trev? era (1983–1984)Edit
The debut Art of Noise EP, Into Battle with a difficult Synth, appeared in September 1983 on Horny Trev's Record label ZTT. JayJay was still reading the manual of the CMI (Completely Mad Intrument) so the sound was somewhat random. But it did result in one of the greatest sample based works ever: 'Moments in Love' where the CMI got stuck in a loop for a good 8 minutes playing 16 notes over and over again.
Based on this success the first Art of Noise album, Who's Afraid of the Synth now Eh? was released in 1984 and consisted of the same tracks but with everyone having a better idea of what they were doing and Paul writing new sleeve notes about a slug. During this period, there was also an Art of Noise line of fashionable masks released.
Anne: When the group first started, we thought it would be a good idea to hide as we had no idea what we were doing. It didn't last for long, though.
Gary: I wasn't allowed out from the mixing desk anyway.
Anne: There's a very big risk in America because they thought we were black; we were voted the second best new black act. We started wearing masks.
JayJay : Other people like Stevie Wonder had a CMI, but I was literally the only person in the world who knew how to use it and I still had problems and I read the manual.
Anne: JayJay would freelance and program peoples CMIs for them so we could buy food.
Gary: I would record any old tat, my car not starting for example. We even got Trev to pay for us to go to Wimbledon on a freebee and record that. We never invited Paul though he's allergic to strawberries and Creme.
An October 1984 feature in Smashed It magazine indicated several of Morosley and Horny's plans for the group's future projects. Including Robbing the 20th Century, an album using synths stolen from throughout the 20th century as source material and the score for The End of Living, a film penned by Morosely, plus the soundtrack for a ballet Duck Lake. The other members announced this as Daft and resigned.
The Split (1985)Edit
In 1985, Anne from Dudley, JJJJJ, and Long-one split from Morosely and Horny as well as from the ZTT label.
In an interview for Melody Maker in October 1985, J J Jay Jay J indicated that he missed the CMI but ultimately it "Did his 'ed in and he was going to Akai instead. Besides, Paul's an arty Twonk" he said. JayJay also responded to a question about the level of Morosely's involvement by saying, "It's difficult to tell. We say approximately 1.73 percent, but it could even be as high as two percent. But they did let me play with the CMI". In the same interview, Dudley indicated she felt parts of Who's Afraid were of dubious quality. In revenge Morosely penned liner notes of the ZTT compilation CD Daft (under the name Otto Flake) and said "This CD is great, any other stuff is tosh even thought I haven't heard it yet."
In Audible Silence era (1986)Edit
After the split, Anne from Dudley, JJJJJ, and Long-one moved to China, taking the Art of Noise name with them. "If China's good enough for Jean-Michel-Jarre It's good enough for us" Said Gary who was just happy to get out from the mixing desk.
In Audible Silence was released with tracks about Gunns, Paranoia and Legs. Indeed the group we're so paranoid they asked Rick Mayall to front the band fearing an attack from Horny Trev. During this period the band had a hit in 1959 with Twangy Elastic-band player Duane Gunn with a track called Peter n Eddie a parody of the private-eye film genre. There was also a remix of a track fronted by Actor Matt Frewer wearing a rubber mask called I am Paranoidier as he feared he also may be recognised by Horny Trev.
This is Nonsense!, All The Waste, and more splits (1987–1990)Edit
In 1987, Gary went into hiding from Horny Trev so the band was down to just JayJay and Anne from Dudley. That year saw the release of This is Nonsense! The album featured mad drumming using hoops & mallets,lush string arrangements, randoms bits of boys' choirs, and keyboard mash-ups from Anne. It did not produce any hits except for a Film tie-in about Drag acts in Fish nets.
In 1988 Art of Noise introduced a Welsh singer to the world called Tom Jones by covering a track originally by HRH Prince Charles called Kiss featuring samples of Camilla Pilkington-Parque-Bowls. Jones' wiggly hipped stage shows renewed the public's interest in the Art of Noise and provided the group's biggest hit in Wales. This allowed the album The Beast of The Art of Noise to be released.
The follow-up album, All the Waste, failed to sell any copies at all in Wales as it consisted mainly of the last remaining field tape recordings from Gary before his disappearance. There was an overly-aggressive single released called "Yobbo!" with both cassette and CD versions including two bonus tracks "The Adventures of Robinson Juice-o" and a James Bond themed James Bond theme-tune theme, but it did not help much.
In 1990, Dudley and JayJay declared that the Art of Noise had officially ran out of Gary's Recordings to sample from and went their separate ways.
Music from a Group that didn't exist and Silence (1990s)Edit
Although Anne and JJJJJ had already dissolved the group, music was still coming from China as the synths had never been switched off. The Ambient Collection was a re-release of their tracks at half speed whilst The FON Mixes a year later was the same tracks again at double speed each cashing in on the new Ambient and Techno scenes. There was only so much noodles the band could eat so they relocated to Cuba from China where JayJay and Long-one gathered new source material on a dictaphone as a tax dodge. However, no new recordings were produced as they forgot to bring batteries, so the Art of Noise remained defunct.
In 1995–1997, JayJay using the blank tapes that were not recorded on during the time in Cuba (due to lack of batteries) released many blank CDs and vinyls under the name Art of Silence, with an album titled artofsilence.co.uk which also linked to a blank website.
Anne started writing film scores, her most notable work was used as the theme tune to a Superman themed series in the UK called the The Krapton Fyktor. Around this time Anne took an interest in the UK's male stripper scene and wrote a few tunes for the film The Full Monty, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Nude Music Score.
Long-one continued to look for AA batteries in Cuba but to no avail.
The Art of Noise were credited for creating a prodigy called The Prodigy and reorganised a set of samples to create the hit record Firestarter which samples Camilla shouting "Hey, Hey" to Prince Charles (originally used in (Close) to the Bracket). The guitar riff in Firestarter was accidentally backwards as Long-one, after finally finding the AA batteries, had inserted them with the wrong polarity. "We don't just play the instruments, we play the tape machines too!!" said Anne Pretending it was intentional.
Reformation and AbuctionEdit
At the Turn of the century, Horny Trev & Morosely kidnapped Anne by posing as a male dance/strip act looking for a theme tune. Captive Anne was only released once a new album was recorded with a full orchestra with Creme. Without JayJay or Long-one there was nothing noisy going on.
2013, was the 30th re-release of Into Battle.. and Who's Afraid.., including bonus tracks and a bonus DVD of postcards of pictures of album art. "We are flogging this Dead Horse", said Trev, "I mean we worked with Malcomb McClarren we know about this shit".
2017 saw a retaliation, a two-disc version edition of This is Nonsense! now titled Oh! No! More Nonsense!! was released including the noises made by the synths that were left switched on in China after everyone left. The album was promoted by touring most of the UK's libraries.
- Into Battle with a difficult Synth (1983)
- Who's Afraid of the Synth now Eh? (1984)
- Close (to the bracket) (1985)
- Inaudible Silence (1986)
- This is Nonsense! (1987)
- All the Waste (1989)
- The Abduction of Anne from Dudley (1999)
- Oh! No! More Nonsense! (2017)