Interview

Gary Langan on Art of Noise live reboot

aon_invisible_sil

Three of the original members of the experimental, anonymous, 80’s pop group the Art Of Noise – Anne Dudley, JJ Jeczalik and Gary Langan – will be back on stage together in the UK in May to ‘reboot’ their 1986 album In Visible Silence. Gary spoke to SDE recently to explain how this reunion (of sorts) happened, to wax lyrical about the Fairlight CMI sampler and to give us a ‘heads up’ on reissue plans…


SuperDeluxeEdition: Why have you, JJ and Anne got back together for this live performance?

Gary Langan: We’ve been talking because Warners are going to re-release In Visible Silence. And then strangely, just before Christmas this offer came in – because they didn’t know that we’d been talking – but Liverpool Sound City got in touch via [ex ZTT archivist] Ian Peel and said ‘do you want to do a gig?’. So we thought ‘wow’. We thought about it for all of five seconds and said ‘yes’. So it’s going to just be the three of us [Gary, JJ Jeczalik, and Anne Dudley] and what we’re going to do, is as it says, to look at In Visible Silence, and we’re sharing the stage with The Human League and A Certain Ratio. It’s going to be Anne, JJ and myself and a percussionist on stage. We might have a Fairlight… I don’t know whether we should, what do you reckon?

SDE: Yes, definitely. Isn’t that at the heart of the Art Of Noise?

GL: Yes it is. It’s our lead singer. That’s the way I always thought of it because we never had a soloist. We are the oddest instrumental band, inasmuch as there is nothing there… [laughs].

SDE: Well that’s the challenge isn’t it, on stage at least. Everyone remembers *that* Top of the Pops appearance…

GL: Please, please! I think I’m going to put the phone down now, Paul…. [laughs]

SDE: I noticed you’re not billed as the Art Of Noise. So who is the Art Of Noise, legally, these days?

GL: Well, Trevor [Horn] still is. But he’s sitting there doing nothing with it, if I can speak openly, but this is a chance to do something that technology allows the three of us to do. Let’s put it that way. We’re embracing technology. But I don’t want to give too much away. [We’ll do ] as much as we can do in 45 minutes. We’re the penultimate band. And it’s sort of like a festival stage, inasmuch as we’ve got a 20-30 minute changeover. As per usual, we will be pushing a few boundaries and pulling a few rabbits out of hats.

SDE: Are you going to stick strictly to In Visible Silence or will there be a few ‘greatest hits’ thrown in there as well?

GL: [pause] oooh…. a searching question! I don’t want to answer that one. [another pause]. Well, we’re going to glimpse at our past, let’s put it that way, it would be silly not to, I think. But basically, it’s a deconstruction of In Visible Silence, because that’s what’s coming out this year, on Warners.

SDE: Is the Liverpool gig a one-off, or are you going to try and do some other shows? 

GL: We’d like to do some more. We’ve enjoyed putting this together so far. I’d love to do some more shows – I’d like to have our own show, because then I can explore technology. We’re just limited [in Liverpool] with space, size and time. But it’s going to be good.

SDE: What about recording. Any chance of you doing some more recording with JJ and Anne, or is that not on the agenda?

GL: I don’t know that there is an agenda. There never has been with us. So there’s really no answer to that question. It might be something that we’ll ask ourselves but it’s not something we’d put on the table, because I think inwardly, if it was to happen, then it would happen for the right reasons. I don’t envisage us ever saying ‘right, because we’ve done this [live show], then tomorrow we’re going to start writing together again.’ It was never ever like that in the beginning. I don’t know. It could be interesting. But at the moment, we’re concentrating on this show and I’d like to do some more.

SDE: Talking of Fairlights, has JJ still got one? I’m sure the last time I spoke to him he told me he’d got rid of it. 

GL: No he hasn’t, but we’ve found a chap in Bristol who has three! And I’ve been there and I’ve witnessed them working and they work very well. They sound incredible, I have to say. I miss the sound of them. There’s a wonderful digital quality to them that no other sampler, even to this day, touches.


Thanks to Gary Langan, who was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE.


Dudley, Jeczalik, Langan reboot Art Of Noise’s In Visible Silence at Liverpool Sound City on 25 May 2017. You can buy tickets here.

You might also like…

45 responses to Gary Langan on Art of Noise live reboot

  1. Garry says:

    Hey! Tra-la-LA!

    This is great news – many thanks Paul! I saw them on the tour for this album back in…’86? At the Hammersmith Odeon – I’m pretty sure it was just Dudley and Jeczalik with some help (I think – a long time ago now).

    Channel 5 (VHS Channel 5) released a video of the gig (I think it was a Mike Mansfield production) that would be really nice as an extra.

  2. James Dawson says:

    The implication that Trevor Horn owns the rights to the Art of Noise name — and that it can’t be used by Gary, Anne and JJ now — is strange, considering how many records the group released without Trevor when they left ZTT. More details on this would be interesting. Did they pay to license the name when they did their non-ZTT work, and do they not want to pay now? Very odd.

  3. Chris Squires says:

    Ah, JJ Jeczalik a name from my past as a mad collector of all things TinTin Duffy. Although the 1983 version of Kiss Me was mighty fine indeed, “Mr. Fairlight” created the hit “Mixe Plurale” and 7″/LP versions….aaaand as Kiss Me was the last ever record played on Radio 1, 275 / 285 medium wave JJ has that claim to fame too…..The producer of the last ever track played on Medium Wave radio 1.

  4. Omar says:

    Oh those China Records reissues… I wish all of them would come out!

  5. Seth Hollander says:

    As if I don’t have enough to concern me already, what with work, wife, and child! I won’t get a moment’s rest until I am shown the tracklist for the In Visible Silence reissue!
    You can fit “every” single/EP track into a 2 disc set with the album, including the live(ish) stuff on the Re-works EP. THIS MUST HAPPEN!

    Great article to see this morning.

  6. Jason says:

    No release date for In Visible Silence then. Sounds like it might be later rather than sooner in 2017, or more would have been said, don’t you think?

    Always thought it was weird the 12″ version of Legs isn’t available digitally anywhere…

  7. Martyn Alner says:

    In Visible Silence is one of my favourite albums (even made my own SDE version of it, with B-sides and the live at Hammersmith audio!). Looking forward to a re-release.

  8. Bob says:

    Pleased to hear In Visible Silence is finally getting a re-release (especially as previous rumblings regarding this seemed to have come to naught). Hoping for more news soon about exactly *what* we’ll be getting, and *when*… Max Headroom 12″ mix of Paranomia anyone?!

    • Martin F says:

      Hi Bob, The Max Headroom 12″ mix of Paranomia is available on the latest Blank & Jones So80s compilation – in excellent remastering too!

  9. kauwgompie says:

    He also played on the Pet Shop Boys’ Shopping and of course on Absolute from Scritti Politti. Believe he also did something for Frankie Goes To Hollywood which would make sense given the ZTT link.

  10. Adam says:

    Count me among those who saw the Visible Silence tour (Chicago, 1987) and would be THRILLED to see a deconstructed version of it touring 30 years later.

    And yeah, a track listing would be nice. :-)

  11. Johan says:

    Both Legs (Extended Version) and Paranoimia (Max Headroom Extended Version) are available on CD https://www.discogs.com/Art-Of-Noise-The-Best-Of-The-Art-Of-Noise-Art-Works-12/release/179677 albeit rare.

    • bertielego says:

      “Legacy (Extended Version)” is included on that compilation, not “Legs (Extended Version)”…

    • Jason says:

      If you’re talking about the “Legacy” track on that compilation, it’s a slowed down version of Legs, not the original.

      Legs (Inside Leg) (6’04”) and Legs (Last Leg mix) (4’49”) are not available digitally as far as I know.

      Think there’s a second mix of Paranoimia too…

      • artisan002 says:

        Correct. I have that 2-disc issue of Best Of… And that is Legacy, not Legs on it. I’d kill for a proper remaster of In No Sense? Nonsense! especially to have the track listing either sorted out of the levels corrected from the old CD issue – Ode to Don Jose is the loudest track on the album. LOL!

  12. Jay Kranz says:

    excited that we may finally get the china records in deluxe versions though it will be sad if they are not part of the element series. disappointing that ZTT seem to have shuttered that project.

  13. newmusicmark says:

    Thanks for the interview Paul! :)

    As for the AON name, Trevor is owner or co-owner of the name. Sounds like full owner perhaps now as the way Gary worded it above…

    I don’t know the source of this but… from Discogs
    https://www.discogs.com/artist/669644-Image-Of-A-Group
    The Image Of A Group was to be the artist name for a 1998 album, “Balance – Music For The Eye” by Lol Creme, Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn and Paul Morley, to be released by ZTT. Just as the masters were completed, an agreement was reached on use of the The Art Of Noise name (jointly owned by Dudley and former AoN member JJ Jeczalik). As the name was available for the foursome to use, the “Balance” tapes were whisked straight back and Horn set about rethinking the entire project with more of an Art of Noise feel. These reworked recordings eventually evolved into the 1999 album by The Art Of Noise – The Seduction Of Claude Debussy.

    • artisan002 says:

      More or less, yes. Anne was fine to let a new lineup use the name. JJ, however still had equal authority on the matter. It was usually described as being a polite phone conversation in which in gave his blessings for the new team to carry on with the name.
      As to the final Seduction of Claude Debussy sounding more like the Art of Noise than their original outing as Image of a Group, I feel it’s quite the opposite. More spirit of experimentation. However, it was that second pass through Horn’s hands that the album gained the great John Hurt. And he really did put the button on that album, feel.

  14. Raj says:

    Thanks for the great interview/insight. Great band and great album (I have it on cd, vinyl, and cassette). Looking forward to more AoN releases.

  15. AudioDile says:

    Thanks Paul. Not sure if you were following up on my comment from a previous post but either way it’s nice to hear confirmation.

    I’m sure you’ll keep us abreast of any new developments!

    Now how about a B-52’s Remixes and Rarities? :D

  16. bertielego says:

    Great interview!
    Thank you, Paul.

  17. Mikey-D says:

    What wonderful news! I recently picked up And What Have You Done With My Body God?, one of the Art of the 12″ volumes and the Dragnet single so I am pumped and primed for new releases! Thank you Paul for a great interview and something for us to look forward to.

  18. Rudi says:

    There is a lot of demos and remixes floating around which has never been released.
    A couple of years ago about 40 tracks/lost tapes turned up, and found their way into the www.
    I do hope some of these tracks will be released officially as they are amazing.

    • artisan002 says:

      Wait. As in lost works from the China years? Or do you mean all the ZTT bits that made it out in remaster compilations a while back? Of course, Influence contained some China bits. The only way I can get a non-vinyl copy of Action Art, in fact.

  19. Chris Squires says:

    Kinda three topics in one.
    a) An album that is long overdue a remastering / reissue
    b) JJ Jeczalik / Art of Noise
    c) Off Topic Stephen Duffy thing.

    An album that was recorded in 1984 and released in 1986 called Designer Beatnik by Dr. Calculus M.D.M.A. recorded around the same time that Stephen was working with JJ, although there is no official input from him as a producer as he was probably busy on the Ups and Downs. Designer Beatnik, to my ears anyway, is a precursor to The Art of Noise. It’s just a very odd / coincidental collision of people, ideas and sounds all at the time they would have been working with each other. If you like Stephen’s work with The Lilac Time then….. you will probably hate this as it is absolutely nothing like it at all. Bob Dylan and Motorhead distance apart. However if you like the Art of Noise there is a fair chance you might like the sound of it. Bear in mind it was only two years previous in recording and the same time of release as In Visible Silence. Designer Beatnik was scheduled for a CD release as DIXCD45 but it was never released, I spent years looking for any promo CDs….Nada…. It would be perfect for the Deluxe Edition treatment.

    • Rickjapan says:

      A couple (three?) of Dr. Calculus tracks were released on the They Called Him Tin Tin retrospective. Apart from that, I know nooothing.

      • Chris Squires says:

        What was good about that was that they used three obscure album tracks rather than going for the singles. If you “Get” those three tracks listen to the rest of the album. It’s a hoot.

      • Ronny says:

        Re Dr. Calculus… there is a song called “Full of Love” on the soundtrack of the movie “She’s having a baby”. I don’t think it’s to be found anywhere else. I don’t know who else was involved, but the sounds and samples are pretty unsual.

  20. Neil says:

    The China reissues were all set to go a few years back then Ian Peel left and the project went tits up.

  21. Rickjapan says:

    Paul, thanks so much for this interview!

    I’m really looking forward to a re-release of a much loved album. I don’t doubt that whatever they come up with they probably won’t be able to satisfy everyone, but it’s still great that it’s happening, and I will probably be a cert to buy (as long they don’t add vinyl to the CD..).

    • David McCallum says:

      Man, I love In Visible Silence! I’m so intrigued by this re-release news. Let’s hope it’s top notch – with at least a second disc.

  22. oystein says:

    This may be the best thing you’ve put on sde, ever. Thanks so much Paul!

  23. Marko G. says:

    Fantastic news, Paul! Thank you for this.
    I’m so looking forward to this reissue (hopefully expanded, at least).
    Keep us posted (I’m sure you will). :) Cheers!

  24. Marcel says:

    Pledge Music tried it once to release a deluxe boxset re-issue of Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise.
    Unfortunately Pledge Music cancelled the release before the release.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      It wasn’t ‘Pledge Music’ it was Classic Album Sundays who tried to release it via Pledge. But it simply didn’t reach its goal, because if I remember correctly it wasn’t very good. So it never happened due to lack of demand.

  25. Tim says:

    Hi Paul – For those of us without access to the broadcast, what actually happened to Art of Noise on Top of the Pops that nearly had Gary hanging up on you?

  26. baward says:

    A touch too polished for me, I think they used a Fairlight Series III on this, as opposed to a Fairlight Series I on the initial recordings. The ‘III’ had better sound (a higher sampling rate) but I think lost something.

    Darren Hayes’ 2007 album ‘This Delicate Thing We’ve Made’ makes great use of the Fairlight I or II.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *