Art of Noise The Seduction of Claude Debussy

The problem with the Art of Noise is that as hip as they are to the sounds of underground dance music, they just love to be square. They're like the yuppies of the avant-garde who hang out at chic discos, surround themselves with the excitement of the crowd, the sound and the lights, but never participate in it. The excess of perfume-like ambience and sensual fluff, as reminiscent of The Ambient Collection from 1990, simultaneously induces such delight and passivity on this disc. The Seduction of Claude Debussy is like a postmodern tribute to the composer, sentimentally written with the sweeping pulse of jungle, hip-hop, acid house and at times, even rock. They point out in their liner notes that Debussy, taking his cue from Baudelaire, wants to express the inexpressible, but as much as they seem to worship this philosophy (his praises are regularly orated by a man who sounds like a BBC announcer who's had too much wine), they don't seem to follow it. Instead, they engage both classical and dance music in a way that's predictable and watered down. They suck the funk out of the latter, and the abstract beauty from the former, and end up sounding more like the noise of art, than the art of noise. Rakim makes an appearance on a few cuts, and though the thought of him chilling with these cats is intriguing, this is probably one of the most embarrassing moments in his career as rap artist. However, more than anything else, he has contributed to the one piece of music that is best suited for elevators in the late 20th century. (Universal)