Anduin: Last Days of Montrose House
Infinite Greyscale

Anduin's latest soundscape, Last Days of Montrose House, arrives in two parts: the first is Jonathan Lee's ten-minute original, which is presented in the form of a single-sided, silver-coloured ten-inch vinyl release (featuring a screen-printed B-side and in a numbered edition of 300); the second part is a bonus download set of remixes by seven guests that totals forty-seven minutes.

Describing a certain sub-category of ambient work as cinematic has become something of a cliche, yet it's almost impossible to do otherwise when presented with Anduin's long-form soundscape. The title alone engenders associations relating to early horror films and the writings of Poe and Lovecraft, while the ghostly music does much the same. Not only that, the work's sound design even encourages the cinematic association in its incorporation of whirring and clicking noises that suggest the workings of an old film projector. Over the course of its episodic run, ghoulish sounds creep and slither across the eerily suggestive piece's skeleton, low-pitched synth chords swell to monstrous proportions, and bass drums and footsteps loudly punctuate the haunted space. A sense of dread seeps into every pitch-black corner, making Last Days of Montrose House one of the most evocative and macabre Anduin pieces on record.

On the remix front, Stephen Vitiello's version hews to Anduin's in general mood and design though ups the ante in terms of density, with the remixer filling in the empty spaces of the original with a thick stream of noise and static. Borne transplants it into a submersive art-techno zone where pulsating beats, aquatic pings, and sweeping dark ambient textures meet; a mix by .thejass. also recasts Last Days of Montrose House as a techno cut, this one less claustrophobic and lighter in spirit than Borne's. A nine-minute makeover by Tag Cloud rivals Anduin's original in scope, though the generally serene ambient-drone character of the former is light years removed from the horror film dramatics of the latter. In the most extreme treatment, Radere steeps the original in a chemical bath of churning acid and noise, so deeply, in fact, that only the vaguest traces of Anduin's material remain.

Because the original material is primarily focused on atmospheric moodsculpting and sound design, it lends itself better to remix treatments than something heavily rooted in melody, which can prove restrictive by comparison. The wide-ranging versions produced by the seven remixers effectively reveal how amenable to interpretation Anduin's material is and how well it allows the remixers to reshape it in accordance with their own sensibilities.

February 2015