But, for all those surface similarities, Wax's album is also unlike anything else the label's ever been associated with. Occupying the same wind-howl climes of artists like Fever Ray or Planningtorock, Dust Collision is a record of almost gothic stateliness and remove. It's the kind of album you can't help but hear as some alt-universe soundtrack to John Carpenter's The Thing.
Unlike the daytrip electronica and warm hobo techno around which the label's formed its band, there's a distance to the sonic bedding here, as though Wax is most comfortable from the other end of a telephone line. "Human Twin," for example, opens with Wax's treated vocals sort of drizzled over slow piano stabs and spliced vocals, constructed around empty and dimly-lit places, while "I Knit You" moves from one of Holden's trademarked arpeggiations into an arcing vocal line that's somehow pleading and desperate but, still, remote. Atop soft squalls of dissonance and glass clinking, "Archetype," meanwhile, is like a creepy torch song transmitted from some German industrial wasteblock, while the sonic restraint that opens "Track Five" gives way to a stumbling percussive break that inverts the joyousness of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" into a cold claustrophobic stomp.
That said, little of Dust Collision bounces like classic Border Community. Mining a trend set by standouts from the last few years like Coloured in Memory and Holkham Drones, its rhythms are understated, not backbones but appendages. There are still those moments of push though, especially on the album's second half, and they help to offset some of the record's gloomy, introspective crawl. "Dust Collision" rides another of Holden's warbling, heat-dizzy synthesizer runs through a fuzzy Martian landscape, and "For a Shadow" folds a subtle electro-strut into offsetting tonal patterns and one of Wax's most untreated and affecting vocal performances on the album. "Echoes and Light" stumbles through a choppy, mistimed beat and Italo synth into Wax's exotic drawl mouthing unknowables as forlorn and lost as the backing track: "She has come with a little gun / The beast is clever." Huh.
Dust Collision succeeds for the elegance and foreign ambience of its wintry atmosphere; it's easily the strongest effort yet from an artist we might easily have assumed had moved on to other ventures. As yet another attempt by Holden and co to expand BC's sonic terrain, it's a bold and often bewitching effort. A new album from Border Community is a rare treat indeed after all; Dust Collision holds enough unexplored pockets and moments of sly intrigue to hold us for the label's next endeavor.