It’s that time of year where the wind blows a little colder and the nights start to get darker earlier. Due to these subtle changes, the music being released has a slightly darker and more ominous feel to it. A prime example of this is ‘The Lone Border’ the new album from Occulting Light’. This is Matthew Grundy’s follow up to 2018’s Construction Tapes 01. Like that album, it lives in the borders of noise, electronica, experimental and techno. Grundy borrows what he wants, discarding the rest, to create dense soundscapes that are rewarding after repeat listens whilst being incredibly immediate to new ears.
The album’s lead single, ‘Ascending the Universal Hologram’, featured BLACKCLOUDSUMMONER (BCS). The effect was achieved as it is one of the standout songs of a year filled with standout songs, but it meant that interest in the album had been piqued. This was a different sound than we are used to from BCS. Instead of the unrelenting noise and cacophony of ‘Blood Music’, released earlier in the year, BSC supplied Grundy with intricate sonic environments that he could manipulate any way he saw fit.
What sets The Lone Border apart from Construction Tapes 01 is every track either features a collaboration or guest spot. As well as BCS, Joe Coales of Death Confetti, Tanya Byrne of Elbrus, atmospheric noise/drone artist Windslab, synth artist Thom Of Rats. and poet Anna Wall all appear. Usually when so many outside elements are involved collaborative albums tend to sound cluttered and without a real identity. This isn’t the case here. Grundy has a singular vision for The Lone Border and never deviates from it. After a few listens, it’s hard to sport where Grundy stops, and his guest begins.
Apart from ‘Ascending the Universal Hologram’, one of the standout moments on The Lone Border is ‘Force Ten Hurricane’ with Anna Wall. Here Grundy opens with stuttering beats, indecipherable vocal samples, filthy basslines, and searing synths. Then the track hits a Wall. Anna Wall to be precise. Wall’s poetry is filled with sleazy prose “Your hands around my throat like something from a cheap porno. What have we become” and “You have made me nature. I will tear the roof from your house and flatten the landscape if you ever touch me again” hints at a relationship gone awry. The words are as powerful as the music, giving the album an extra texture that we didn’t realise was missing but are grateful for its inclusion.
The downside to the album is that it’s too short. At 36-minutes some of the songs could have been extended. There is a section in ‘177’, around the three-minute mark, that could have been elongated for another few minutes. Another downside is how musically there isn’t a great deal of variation. Despite all the guest spots it all fits into that John Carpenter/Stranger Things vibe. Hulking basslines enclosed in swelling retro sounding synths. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but it might have been nice if Grundy had let a bit more of his guest’s styles come through. That being said the album also showcases Grundy’s ability to get what he needs from his friends without giving up his vision in return. The music is glitchy, wonky, incredibly emotive, and catchy as.
This will sadly be an album that is overlooked by the majority of music fans, but once you find it, The Lone Border has the power to profoundly change you if you give it a chance.