Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Art of Noise

  • (Who's Afraid of?) The Art of Noise [Island, 1984] B
  • In Visible Silence [Chrysalis, 1986] A-
  • In No Sense? Nonsense! [Chrysalis, 1987] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

(Who's Afraid of?) The Art of Noise [Island, 1984]
There's no denying that this concatenation of musical-instrument imitations and collapsing new sound effects generates considerable episodic interest and the occasional groove. But only "Close (To the Edit)" sustains much jam, and "Beat Box" goes on so long it ends up insulting the memory of "Rapture" and Duck Rock both. What some people won't dance to nowadays. B

In Visible Silence [Chrysalis, 1986]
Not only do they sacrifice meaning to sensation, they happily exploit ersatz meaning as a sensation-heightening device. So fine, don't trust them. Only since when is music supposed to be trustworthy? Just note that deprived of genius Trevor Horn these mad studio pros have to go with what they know, subjecting their sound-effects music to hook and beat when no grandiose electronic joke comes to mind. And good--not since the glory days of the Penguin Cafe have instrumentalists confounded the arty and the trivial and had fun at the same time. A-

In No Sense? Nonsense! [Chrysalis, 1987]
First dislocated electrohop, then zap-pow disco, now shards of soundtrack--genteel yodels and heavenly choruses and string quartets, "Crusoe" and "A Day at the Races" and "Dragnet" (the "real" one). And for their next trick, postmodernist Muzak so funny you'll forget to laugh. B-