Record Mirror
Roger Morton

Publication Date:
9th November 1985



Symbiotic doo-dahs…
the sound of words rather than the meaning of words…
the Art Of Noise talk to Roger Morton.
What is the Art Of Noise?
JJ: “We’re a symbiotic doo-dah.”
Anne: “What does that mean?”
JJ: “It’s a relationship where, if A relates to B, then B is dependent on A. It’s anthropology, you see, and neuropsychology.”
JJ likes a joke. Along with Anne Dudley and Gary Langan, JJ is the Art Of Noise. Once upon a time, a lot of people thought that ZTT’s Trevor Horn and Paul Morley were the sound and vision behind the tapping and grumbling on the ‘Who’s Afraid Of…’ album.
The faceless three grew sad at the misrepresentation, and decided that it was high time to stand on their own six legs. They eloped from ZTT, signed to China Records, and have put the legs in question out as a single ‘Legs’. Does this mean, to use the bitter words of a thwarted Paul Morley, that they now wish to pursue a conventional rock career?
Anne: “Oh, that’s right. We’re all brazen, career-besotted individuals. In a nutshell, the truth is that the Art Of Noise started off as Gary and JJ, was taken away from them, and has now returned to its originators.”
The three casually dressed, upwardly musical studio technicians met through a mutual Trevor Horn connection, and fell in with the ZTT team of schemers in 1983. For two years, they peered out from behind a curtain of Paul Morley’s intellectual graffiti, which dripped from interviews and adverts, record sleeves and press hand-outs.
Anne: “Paul Morley only ever speaks on behalf of Paul Morley. You can’t really envisage him as being part of a band, he just hasn’t got the personality.
“When it started, we’d all done other things, been other places, worked with other people, and so for us it was almost like a hobby, something that was really fun to do. Looking back, I suppose we were incredibly naive, but it all seemed to make sense at the time.”
Gary: “Everything that we did made sense in the beginning, it’s just it didn’t really stay that way. The band was going to be anonymous, and then we suddenly discovered that people were fronting the band, saying that they were us, in some respects, and leaving us as the backroom boys, I think it would get to anyone after a while, when you realise that you’re the one doing all the work, and someone else is out there reaping all the glory.”
Morley’s attempts to use the Art Of Noise to express his dissatisfaction with pop, his intention that they should be the ultimate joke, and the ultimate seriousness of pop music, became too great an imposition to mesh with the more earthbound desires of the worker-musicians.
Anne: “For us, the music always came first.”
JJ: “All the rest was ladled on afterwards. It’s not impossible for anyone to do that.”
Gary: “He had to have our music before he could start spouting words. It was always a case of we’d create something and then give it to Paul, and he would think of some label to give it.
“The sleeve notes were just a by-product, a way for Paul to carry on his journalism without being a journalist.”
Having flown the ZTT nest, leaving behind ruffled feathers and a writ to stop Morley and Horn using their name, the Art Of Noise now prefer to look to the future.
Gary: “The dirt-raking really bores us. We realise that we have to say something about it, but…”
A chicken plucked of all gratuitous wordiness, the ‘Legs’ single actually seems a little bare. However, when held at the right angle the sleeve reveals a mysterious image on the back cover. By a trick of light, the Art Of Noise bring you the face of Russulo, Italian futurist of the early 1900s, and the man who invented the band’s name with his touring show ‘The Art Of Noises’.
JJ: “We thought we’d have Russulo featuring on the cover, but in an almost subliminal way, and with no verbose rubbish, so that people could make up their own minds.”
Apart from the oblique Russulo reference, the three Noises profess to have no other tricks up, or on, their sleeves. JJ: “We’ve always been simple, really. We are simple people with direct appeal. You see, in America, we’ve done well in the black charts purely on the rhythm and groove of what we do. That had nothing to do with publicity, and we believe, maybe naively, that is the way to go on.”
Anne: “I suppose that intrinsically, we’re more interested in the sound of words, than the meaning of words.”
The Art Of Noise’s habitual, crushed beatbox groove stalks through ‘Legs’, towing behind it a barrelful of assorted distortions, vocal treatments, hollow sibilants, guttural noise and melodic simplicity. In other words, much the same as their previous works.
Anne: “As we don’t have a lead singer, we don’t have one unvarying element which identifies a group sound. We have other things that identify the sound, which might be something to do to the drums, and it would be very foolish to make a radical departure from that at this stage.”
JJ: “For us, there are two sides to the coin, there’s the hard, tough, black side, and there’s a melodic, beautiful side and they go hand in hand."

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