100blumen – Surveillance

100Blumen - Surveillance

CD, Ant-Zen, 2011
www.100blumen.com

100blumen has, in the past, put out some fairly solid albums of crunching, massive industrial electronics that waver precariously on the border of power noise. This latest release, “Surveillance”, may contain many of the same basic ingredients – meaty slabs of no-nonsense percussion, sampled vocal elements and grating textures laid over accessible melody lines – but the recipe being used here is far different… not bad, by any account, but undeniably different. I would even go so far as to say that “Surveillance” shouldn’t even be considered a 100blumen record; there’s that much of a leap from prior offerings.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a denigration of this album – on the contrary, “Surveillance” is, musically speaking, the most exciting and accomplished thing 100blumen has ever put together – but it’s just too much of a jump from anything else. Often acts follow a logical progression of evolution in the development of their sound – “Surveillance” must be the X-Men of the 100blumen stable, in that it represents a sudden, massive mutation resulting in something entirely unexpected. Maybe it’s the transition from solo project to dynamic duo, with the live guitarist getting in on the songwriting action, maybe it’s simply maturity settling in; either way, this album is a far cry from anything 100blumen have done before. The orchestral overtones of “La Fin Absolue du Monde”, which introduces the album, leading into the no-holds-barred assault of “The Hurt”, all through to the two untitled hidden gems – there really isn’t a low point.
So the question that begs a response is this: will existing fans of 100blumen like what they’re hearing? My answer is a resounding, definite ‘yes’, provided they have actually listened to any music before and aren’t just your garden-variety cyber club zombies stomping their massive boots on weekend dance floors. Even if it isn’t quite what you expect from 100blumen, and even if it isn’t entirely fresh (live guitars adding texture to computer-based music is nothing new within industrial music), “Surveillance” is a monster of a record and one of the most listenable industrial discs I’ve heard to date.

[7.5/10]

— David van der Merwe