Art of Noise, Below the Waste

From the inexplicable gatefold doubling as a speaker advertisement to the bizarre tracklist, this album just confuses me at every turn. AoN could be weird, and could be good at being weird, as long as they gave the long ones a beat and cut the rest when they'd overstayed their welcome. This explains the shorter tracks on Who's Afraid, for example, because they're only just enough to be interesting. But here they drag on ("Yebo!", "Back To Back"), trip over their own cleverness ("Dan Dare") and make you wonder what they're even doing on the disc ("Finale"). Their better tracks recall their earlier days: "James Bond Theme," no "Peter Gunn," is basically Monte Norman mugged by "Close (To The Edit)" but still has its spartan charms, and "Catwalk" takes a while to get going but gets there. Still, even the otherwise beguiling "Island" and "Robinson Crusoe" are practically remixes of each other, and with the partial exception of "Spit" guest vocalists Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens don't add enough to their three tracks to make much difference. More proof that scum always floats to the top. (Content: no concerns.)