This collection compiles music and films by Art of Noise from the period 1995 to 2000, and is mostly comprised of previously unreleased material, including the album 'balance - music for the eye' and the Producer's Cut of 'The Seduction of Claude Debussy' on CD, and two unreleased complete concerts on the DVD, filmed in London at Coexistence studio and Shepherds Bush Empire in 2000.
More than ten years after the Art of Noise left Trevor Horn's ZTT label to record on their own, original members Anne Dudley and Paul Morley reunited with Horn plus 10cc's Lol Creme to record another LP, organized around the work of French modernist composer Claude Debussy. With a guest list including John Hurt as well as Rakim, the album charts the artistic use of sampled breakbeats – pioneered by the Art of Noise themselves – with nods to '80s hip-hop plus their '90s equivalent, drum'n'bass. Though the Art of Noise doesn't sound quite as brash as they did in their '80s prime, The Seduction of Claude Debussy is an interesting showcase of what made the group great.
Discovery Records, just before its demise, did a great and wondrous thing by putting out four, count them, four Art of Noise CDs in one fell swoop. Art of Noise began in the mid-'80s and is now a touchstone to which all electronic music should be compared. While compiling their own collections, Discovery Records was able to take advantage of a excellent compendium ready for reissue. Ambient Collection had long been a jewel in many vinyl collections. These Art of Noise catalog remixes by Youth, bassist for Killing Joke, remain a classic of compositional ambient electronica. One of the themes to this ambient opus is explicitly stated in "Robinson Crusoe" and hinted at elsewhere. Art of Noise's Anne Dudley had mentioned just before the original 1990 release on a GLR Radio U.K. program that French composer Robert Mellin's main theme for "Robinson Crusoe" recalled here was one of her Top Ten favorite pop songs.
The place for Art of Noise neophytes to start, Daft collects (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise! and Into Battle with the Art of Noise, along with two reworkings of "Moments in Love" from the original U.K. release of that song, to make a fantastic hour's worth of music. If anything, a single or two aside, Daft beats out the official Best Of compilation by a mile. Having aged superbly with time, AON's early works sound all the more advanced and of the moment, a testament especially to Trevor Horn's excellent production and Anne Dudley's gripping arrangements. Further entertainment comes from the liner notes, which aren't merely state-of-the-art 1984 album design but an apparently barbed attack on the further incarnation of the band from one Otto Flake. The exact seriousness of this is up to the reader. As for the "Moments in Love" versions, both are gentler and more elegant than the already lush original, and none the worse for that, though "(Three Fingers Of) Love" does have rather disconcerting sound effects added to it.
AON hit their stride with the release of this record, while showing their colors in the choices of material – while the usual offbeat AON elements were present, so was "Peter Gunn," with Duane Eddy guesting on guitar. Another AON hit, "Legs," was present, as was the original version of "Paranoimia," enhanced in its single versions by the addition of routines from Max Headroom performed by Matt Frewer, who would later play the digital ding-a-ling on a short-lived TV series. The Frewer versions replaced the original on some pressings, including the original CD, but the original version has since been restored, with both Frewer versions now confined to best-of collections.