In May, fans of Awaken I Am were faced with news of the tragic death of the band’s guitarist Connor Verner-Oakley. Though the music Connor created lives on, the loss has obviously rocked friends and family, still coming to terms with the sudden passing.
Behind the scenes, Connor was working with a fellow musician of the Brisbane local scene; Marcus Parente, guitarist of The Comfort. The two had started working together on BORDERLVND together in March, waiting for Connor’s return from a US tour for Awaken I Am. The post-rock project was intended to create music that was emotionally moving, and was very hands-on for the duo. Marcus explains “Everything was done by us, from writing, to recording, to mixing and mastering.”
“Life” is the first single from BORDERLVND, releasing yesterday (23rd September). Sparse and beautiful with an echoing piano introduction, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the track was intended to give thoughtful space for contemplation on one’s lonesome. Onwardly urging guitar melody and beats offer a steady pace, seeming like light encouragement in the sparseness. It feels like both room to think and also a warm space held in reservation. Like the unconditional presence from someone that loves you; either sitting in silence beside you or being supportive in words or touch.
The lighter/higher piano notes seem to (movingly and fittingly) touch into something ethereal or outerworldly, as do the slipping beats. As “Life” moves from a constant and steady pace into an expansive leap, it feels like a dive into strength and freedom; like breaching a threshold into something fuller.
Though the project could have ended with Connor’s passing, Marcus felt that it was important to finish, sharing “I knew he would have wanted that.” Marcus was also encouraged to continue by Connor’s family. “Life” is the second track from an upcoming self-titled EP that we’ll get to hear next month. While it’s unclear what BORDERLVND will look like in the future with the absence of Connor, Marcus intends to continue on.[Borderlvnd image by Josh Pepi]