As CD booklet states, “The Surveillance Lounge” is based on a live soundtrack to “Der Brennende Acker” (The Burning Soil), a 1922 movie by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, which Steven Stapleton performed in Paris in 2007. Its a collection of mood-location based pieces (with location being a darkened hall of a movie theater and the mood targeting those who appreciate a heavy dose of black humor) with Steven Stapleton (and his collaborators, including David Tibet and Andrew Liles) delving into the deepest depths of sonic surrealism/dadaism.
Unfortunately, ripped out of context, those sounds provide little value to the listener – perhaps, including a DVD with an aforementioned live performance would’ve been a good idea. As it stands, its a collection of pleasant (and some not-so-pleasant) sounds that probably wouldn’t make much sense to anyone but a strict NWW / Stapleton devotee.
“Close To You” (not a cover of Carpenters hit of the same name) is a mix of bizarre crackling sounds (which might just make a CD player owner worry about whether his/her CD player is broken), stuttering vocal loops, piano sounds and random movie samples.
“The Golden Age Of Telekinesis” creates a strange rhythmical foundation / groove with its squawking vocal line (which is sped up to oblivion and disappears somewhere down the line) and percussion. Eventually the track disintegrates into even more randomness.
“The Part Of Me Which Is That Part In You Is Now Dead” is a sinister ambient piece which is fairly quiet, with occasional louder tone puncturing the silence. Further on, it gets progressively louder and more distinct, with more squeaking and stuttering vocal effects thrown in for good measure and at one point a track briefly turns on into a full-on noise blast.
“Your Assassin Is My Equal” starts out as the most liveliest of all 4 tracks, as it leans heavily on endless cut-ups of movie / music samples. Bizarrely, what follows then is a proper musical construction, which employs a lounge track, its tinkering sounds interspersed with sped-up / disfigured vocal samples.
There are some interesting ideas on “The Surveillance Lounge” (like the aforementioned juxtaposition of cut-ups and lounge music) , but unfortunately to get there, the listener would have to sift through a lot of less thrilling material. Not a very good place to start for a neophyte and not a good way to measure Stapleton’s progress over years, this CD is merely another curious item in NWW’s lengthy catalog.