Much anticipated third album from acclaimed Merseyside- based producer Matthew Barnes aka Forest Swords. Barnes as many of us is in despair at the current uncertain world and has drawn inspiration from new ways of communication and has taken this into his music. The crux of the album is about blurring the lines between digital and organic, samples and unique playing and is sure to be one of the most innovative works in 2017.
Vinyl LP £15.75 ZEN243
LP on Ninja Tune. Includes 12” x 12” insert print.
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 ZENCD243
CD on Ninja Tune in 4-panel digipak.
Vinyl LP £23.99 ZEN243X
Limited indies only Deluxe Edition LP on Ninja Tune. Comes in gatefold sleeve, housing an additional 12” x 12” art booklet + 12” x 12” insert.
- Indies only
- Includes download code
As portrayed on the photographic illustration on the cover, that’s probably the best way to meditate; lying on the ground, sun-baked but stony-hard (the ground, I mean), with a bloody great boulder balanced on your table-shaped legs. Or maybe it’s about joy, pain and spiritual self-enrichment through suffering and catharsis; all themes and emotions represented by the music produced by Matthew Barnes as Forest Swords.
‘Compassion’ follows on from the magnificent ‘Engravings’ from 2013, but this time on Ninja Tune. The serious sonic pallette displayed on his Tri Angle debut has been broadened with more organic sounds, haunting fragments of soulful sample-delica and rich semi-acoustic instrumentation. The sounds on tracks like ‘The Highest Flood’ are delicious: razor-sharp staccato synths, brooding and rumbling low-end, rattling percussion and cut-up, perfectly placed choral vocals. Stirring stuff.
Then there’s the Eastern-strings-and-bells over toms and late-night city centre hip-hop beats of ‘Panic’; with its sampled vocal incantation, “I feel something’s wrong”, floating plaintively over the heavy dread yet driving, weirdly uplifting overall vibe of the track. The rumblings and chants on ‘Exalter’ are just beautiful. That’s a trick Barnes frequently pulls off over the length of this record: he mixes sounds and creates textures to evoke a variety of moods, all with enough melodic hooks and rhythmic invention to keep you coming back for more. I didn’t think it possible, but I feel at least 15% more compassionate than I did before listening.
5/10 Matthew 11th May 2017
So I was listening to this the other day and I thought two main thoughts.
1. So I'm nearly 40 years of age, and most of it sounds ok, but I also feel awkward about liking some of it. It's as though it's meant for a younger audience. I can only describe it as it being a bit like watching that show where you see seven year olds wear heaps of makeup, and then they all dance seductively. Which, for the record I don't like, but it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.
And then my mind wandered a little, mainly about other awkward things such as watching Basic Instinct with my mum for example, or accidentally touching a dog's penis etc. which was fun for a little while, and then it struck me...
2. "Ideal X-Factor dance routine music".
And I have to say I haven't listened to it since.
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