“Music is not just the expression of a feeling – it is the feeling itself.” Claude Debussy was definitely on to something when he made that statement nearly a century ago. Art of Noise must have thought so; they have devoted their entire new release to his memory. The Seduction of Claude Debussy is original, to say the least. It is an eclectic mix of classical sounds with a touch of operatic vocals and even rap and a spoken word narrative thrown in. While not a disc for everyone, Art of Noise deserves praise, if for nothing else, for having the guts to put out a disc that so deviates from the norm. They strive for something more than the standard Top 40 pop song.
I am not even going to pretend to know what they were thinking during the production of this cd, though. The Seduction of Claude Debussy is described as “featuring the dream life of Claude Debussy as a metaphor for what a difference a century makes and the real life of art of noise as a metaphor for the fantasy life of a pop group.” Sure. The liner notes are quite cryptic and undecipherable at times as well. For example, the “Extract from a novelisation of the film that doesn’t exist of the seduction of Claude Debussy.”
However, it is the music that matters the most, and to simply say that it is unique would be a gross understatement. This is not an album you can jam to, or one that will tug at your heartstrings, or one that will get you moving in the morning. It is definitely mood music; something you’d pop in when you’re in a pensive state of mind. Otherwise, listening would take a great deal of patience.
Right away you realize you’re venturing into uncharted territory. You first hear John Hurt telling you to “imagine an actor saying the following” Add Sally Bradshaw’s soprano over a drum machine after the Enya-like introduction. It makes for an interesting and enjoyable initiation into the world of Art of Noise.
What they appear to be going for, much like Debussy himself, is the creation of feeling by telling his story. They do it well. For example, “Born on a Sunday” evokes the beginning of life and the excitement it brings with a faster, more energized beat, whereas “On Being Blue” naturally has a more melancholy, minor key sound.
They also have a few guests featured throughout the disc. Donna Lewis lends her voice to “Dreaming in Color” and quite a few tracks feature the hip-hop vocals of Rakim.
The Seduction of Claude Debussy exhibits the work of some very creative minds. It is not something that can be truly appreciated by everyone, nor is it something that can be fully explained. As the French poet Charles Baudelaire is quoted as saying: “In music, and in painting, even in the written word, there is always a gap, to be bridged by the imagination of the hearer.”
+ julie pecoraro