Stolen Years

(SMTG Limited) 

The backstory for Jonathan Lee’s latest album as Anduin is one of my worst nightmares realized. In August 2011, his home was burglarized and the majority of his work (and the gear he used) was lost. Lee took the fragments that remained and molded them into “Stolen Years.” As a whole, this is an impressive record and with so styles being explored, the overall cohesion is no small feat. First and foremost are the fantastic contributions of saxophonist Jimmy Ghaphery. In some ways, his melodic, wheezing contributions are the thread that ties everything together. Blasts of sax (and in some cases, flute) turn up when you least expect it, taking these textural pieces to a totally different place. Opener, “Behind the Voyeur’s Wall of Glass,” sounds like a smoke-filled jazz club stuck miles benearth the surface. Move said club from underground to cloud city and you’re close to the electronic-tinged “Invisible Materials at Work.” Considering its origins, the underlying darkness that pervades much of “Stolen Years” is unsurprising. Odd, minimal beats emerge and just as quickly disappear. Everything remains rather understated, though, as the simple rhythms highlight Lee’s deft compositional skill. He only gives away so much. The album closes with the hopeful, lush pads of “Irene,” sending everyone feeling a bit more optimistic as dawn approaches. - Brad Rose, Experimedia

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