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Art of Noise

Art of Noise City London
Country United Kingdom
Years active 20


Art of Noise (also The Art of Noise) were an avant-garde synthpop group formed in 1983 by engineer/producer Gary Langan, programmer J. J. Jeczalik, along with arranger Anne Dudley, producer Trevor Horn and music journalist Paul Morley. The group's mostly instrumental compositions were novel melodic sound collages based on digital sampler technology, which was new at the time. Inspired by turn-of-the-20th-century revolutions in music, the Art of Noise were initially packaged as a faceless anti- or non-group, blurring the distinction between the art and its creators. The band is noted for innovative use of electronics and computers in pop music and particularly for innovative use of sampling.

In early 1983, two of Trevor Horn's production team, programmer JJ Jeczalik and engineer Gary Langan, were working on a scrapped drum riff from a session from Yes's 90125. They sampled it into a Fairlight CMI, using the then new Page R sequencer. This was the first time an entire drum pattern had been sampled into the machine. They then added non-musical sounds on top of it, before playing the track to producer Trevor Horn. He then got arranger Anne Dudley involved in what would become a long-term side project. Jeczalik, Langan, Dudley & Horn became known as the Art of Noise along with one of Horn’s business partners, ex-NME journalist Paul Morley, who originally named them the Art of Noises before Jeczalik dropped the end ‘s’. This was the first time that Horn had been part of a group since he had parted company with his Buggles partner Geoff Downes after they had been part of Yes. It would also be the first and last time that he would enjoy chart success as an artist since the New Wave hit in 1979 with "Video Killed the Radio Star". The team had first assembled in 1981 to produce ABC's The Lexicon of Love album, which led to an increase in profile for all concerned and would go later work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood on what would become the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome.

The technological impetus for the Art of Noise was the advent of the Fairlight CMI sampler, an electronic musical instrument invented in Australia that Horn was reportedly among the first to purchase. With the Fairlight, short digital sound recordings called samples could be "played" through a piano-like keyboard, while a computer processor altered such characteristics as pitch and timbre. While some musicians were using samples as adornment in their works, Horn and his companions saw the potential to craft entire compositions with the sampler, tossing the traditional rock aesthetic out the window, or at least turning it on its ear. It should be noted that others were working contemporaneously towards this goal (see Jean Michel Jarre and Yello). Producer and musician Tony Mansfield had made extensive use of the Fairlight for Naked Eyes' eponymous debut album (the first pop album to feature such a hefty dose of the CMI). Horn had previously put the sampling keyboard to great use on The Lexicon of Love, mostly in order to tweak live-based elements of performance but also to embellish the compositions with sound effects (such as a cash register's bell on "Date Stamp").

In February 1983—with Paul Morley providing much of the band's art direction—Horn, Dudley, Jeczalik, and Langan formed the initial incarnation of The Art of Noise. The group's debut EP, Into Battle with The Art of Noise, appeared in September 1983 on Horn's fledgling ZTT label. It immediately scored a hit in the urban and alternative dance charts in the USA with the highly percussive, cut-up instrumental track "Beat Box", a favorite among poppers.

Albums (5)
Songs (56)
# Song
Hits 3754
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