Review: Anduin – Stolen Years

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(CD & Vinyl LP, SMTG LTD, 2012)

The broken window on the cover of “The Stolen Years” by Jonathan Lee (operating under the moniker Anduin, not to be confused with the mighty dragon Alduin) describes the unfortunate event that reflects the album title: the home burglary in 2011 in which Lee lost most of the files and instruments of Anduin. A few years worth of work disappeared in a moment, with only some of the material remaining. “The Stolen Years” is an album culled from those remnants – which can only leave us to wonder how much more work was lost as a result of that crime.

The basic building material of the album is ambient music which does everything ambient music should do: create a rich, textural atmosphere, washing over you in thick swells and hypnotize you with its smeared, hazy drones that you wish would just go on forever. But there is much more: found sounds, field recordings, irregular drums that shift in and out of the ambiental nirvana just add to the experience. But the strongest point of the album are the contributions form the jazz musician Jimmy Graphery, whose slow, delicate saxophone arrangements enhance the atmosphere, making “The Stolen Years” play like a more light-hearted (and less depressed) Bohren & der Club of Gore. Found sounds get looped and processed into strange rhythms, like on “Dyadic Twenty Seven”, where the slow-paced IDM structure is made with strange shuffling and cracking beat, like someone maniacally repeating the same activity over and over.

The process of listening (and imagining) to the album can be “aided” by a wonderful set of pictures made by Team Eight attached to the CD, with each track having a corresponding drawing.reflecting the atmosphere of music. And so, the drawing for the opening “Behind the Voyeur’s Wall of Glass” has an ominous dark figure peering through the window, while “Invisible Materials at Work” shows a picture of a single candle in front of a large, old mirror. The pictures can be just as spooky as the sounds – both are inseparably connected, making “The Stolen Years” a sort of an ambient “concept album” with a thriller/horror story told without a single word.

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