Anduin: Forever Waiting

Anduin (real name Jonathan Lee, resident of Richmond, Virginia and member of Souvenir's Young America) distinguishes his cavernously “dark ambient” sound from others by incorporating into his soundscapes all manner of mutated sounds (field recordings, electronics, keyboards, percussion, violin, harmonica, piano, vocals), making Forever Waiting definitely one for the headphones. A sense of claustrophobia pervades his gloom-laden and oceanically dense settings, though Lee occasionally allows light to penetrate the darkness.

In “For Francis Bacon (Part 1),” a swollen battalion of bass rumble becomes an undercurrent for a nightmarish moan of anguished voices, all of it topped by the bright sound of Noah Saval's harmonica. In “The Black Line (Forever Waiting),” Saval's wail sails over the insistent, low-pitched twang of a string instrument and the muffled gallop of horses' hooves, but they're but three elements of a large number Lee's blended into the total heaving mass. The recurrent shuffling noise in “Reason in Exile (Part 1)” suggests a dying prisoner dragging his emaciated body from one side of a dank dungeon to the other. In the Part 2 mix by Jasper TX (Dag Rosenqvist) that immediately follows, however, becalmed piano playing lets a smidgen of light bleed into the cell. John Twells' Xela mix “For Francis Bacon (Part 2)” ups the density ante even more by working supplicating choral voices into an enormous cyclonic mass of static and noise that ultimately consumes everything in its path before vanishing to leave Twells' plaintive guitar in its place.

Forever Waiting boasts a remarkably rich sonic range where sounds may not be what they seem. “Makepiece in Pieces,” for examples, appears to include the clatter of harbour noise, scurrying animals, strangulated organ tinkles, and muffled string tones but it's impossible in this digital processing era to be certain. Not that it's ultimately a critical point; what's more relevant is how strongly Forever Waiting registers as a marvelously accomplished debut collection.

October 2008