The Art of Noise was the first band to release a record on ZTT, the record label Trevor Horn formed with Jill Sinclair and Paul Morley in 1983. Into Battle With The Art of Noise was the sound of Horn and the team that had worked on his records with Dollar, ABC and Frankie Goes to Hollywood running riot with all that sound technology had to offer.
Pushing samplers, sequencers and drum machines to their limits, Art of Noise became a creative playground for Horn, sound engineer Gary Langan and programmer JJ Jeczalik. Anne Dudley and Paul Morley completed the team and proved just how they’d stretched the idea of what a ‘pop group’ might be – one was a pianist, the other was a theorist.
Into Battle became a surprise hit on the Billboard dance chart and Art of Noise became the centerpiece of ZTT’s multimedia onslaught across the mid-80s. Their album, Who’s Afraid of The Art of Noise? (1984) included the top ten hit ‘Close (To The Edit)’, which featured a sampled car-engine solo. Its two other singles – ‘Beatbox’ and ‘Moments In Love’ – have since become the cornerstones of the hip-hop and chill-out genres. The recycled “hey!”s in The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ are testament to Art of Noise being declared the third most sampled band in history.
Dudley, Jeczalik and Langan carried the Art of Noise through the 80s and 90s (with collaborators ranging from Duanne Eddy to The Orb). In 1999, Version 3.0 of the band appeared when Dudley, Horn, Morley and Lol Creme fused drum & bass – “this wonderful rhythmic renaissance,” as Creme described it – with Horn’s love of Debussy. The result was The Seduction of Claude Debussy – an album and US tour.