Monday, October 20, 2014

Art of Noise - Who Is Afraid of the Art of Noise?

This week (October 22nd) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise?, the first full-length studio album from the English group the Art of Noise. It charted at number 35 in New Zealand, number 30 in the Netherlands and number 27 in the UK. Here in the US, it spent thirteen weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of number 85.

Side one opens with “A Time for Fear (Who’s Afraid)”. This multi-layered composition features samples from a speech by Fidel Castro and from a US Army announcement of the invasion of Grenada. I particularly like the calm bridge in the middle of the track that returns again near the end.

The dance jam “Beat Box (Diversion One)” contains a sample from Toto’s hit “Rosanna”. This is an eight and a half variant of the song that appeared on the group’s debut EP Into Battle with the Art of Noise (click here for that review). The piano only ending is very lovely.

“Snapshot”, a one minute long interlude, includes a piano-played riff from the Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.

“Close (To the Edit)”, the lead single, stalled at number 102 on the US Billboard Hot 200. It did, however, reach number 11 in Ireland, number 8 in the UK, and number 4 on the US Billboard Dance chart. It features vocals by Karen Clayton and Camilla Pilkington-Smyth. The song’s title was inspired by Yes’ 1972 album Close to the Edge and samples that band’s 1983 hit single “Leave It”. I remember this one specifically from the video airplay on MTV, though the clubs I frequented during my sophomore year of college also gave it a good bit of play as well.

Side two begins with the title track. “Who’s Afraid (of the Art of Noise?)” uses odd beeps and mocking laughter samples, creating a paranoid and self-conscious feeling in this listener.

“Moments in Love” appeared on the band’s debut EP Into Battle with the Art of Noise. As a single, it climbed to number 51 in the UK, number 17 in Belgium, and number 10 in the Netherlands. Again, the album cut is very soothing as it clocks in at over ten minutes in length.

“Momento” reminds me of someone walking the streets of London, with church bells and water-front sounds that can be heard in the distance. It ends with a church organ.

“How to Kill” is a very odd piece; I found it difficult to find anything that I could attach myself to within it.

The album closes with “Realization”.

Once again, I found this album from the Art of Noise to be an interesting listening experience for the most part. While not a style of music I tend to make a steady diet of, this is a nice occasional palette cleanser.

1 comment:

John said...

I remember when the album came out a few months earlier in the U.S., as I bought my copy at Tower in Seattle. I had already been a huge fan of INTO BATTLE so hearing a full album was weird and great at the same time. By the time the UK released it, that's when the U.S. finally released "Close (To The Edit)" as a single. I used to wonder why Seattle released the album before everyone else, and perhaps since "Beat Box" became a huge hit there, they decided to release it there.