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FOREST SWORDS

Forest Swords

Bolted

    Forest Swords (aka electronic producer/composer Matthew Barnes) returns. Having spent the past few years working as an in-demand composer and sound designer – writing music for ballet, film and video games – 'Bolted' was recorded over the last twelve months in Barnes’ home city of Liverpool. His ad hoc studio in a former vehicle and munitions factory (with connections to shadowy guerilla artists The KLF) became a gateway for him to explore, using a combination of hardware, software and tape machines to mould and sculpt a sound world for the album.

    Across its 11 tracks he dives deeper into his unique sonic vocabulary (including personal samples of Neneh Cherry and the late Lee Scratch Perry) to weave together a set of tracks that sounds equally muscular and bleak, haunting and euphoric. While his previous album – the acclaimed 'Compassion' released in 2017 – saw Barnes toy with widescreen technicolour, the world of ‘Bolted’ is tightly wound, taught, with a sense of aching urgency like never before.

    Recommended if you like… Aphex Twin, Björk, Oneohtrix Point Never, Andy Stott, Boards of Canada, Burial, Massive Attack.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Crystalline synth stabs and soaring melodies, gritty post-industrial soundscapes lightened with Barnes' unfaltering ear for sound. It's like OPN listened to a bit of yacht rock and fancied a few melodies amongst the clattering FM madness. Brilliant.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. Munitions
    2. Butterfly Effect
    3. Rubble
    4. Night Sculpture
    5. Caged
    6. Tar
    Side B
    1. The Low
    2. Chain Link
    3. Hjope
    4. End
    5. Line Gone Cold

    Forest Swords, aka acclaimed Merseyside-based producer Matthew Barnes, returns with his eagerly anticipated new full-length record.

    “Compassion" engages with an uncertain world we’re experiencing, distilling it into a unique sound territory: Barnes' exploration of the mid-point between ecstasy and frustration, artificial and human feels timely and affecting. The result is an assured, compelling body of work, tying together the ancient and future: weaving swathes of buzzing digital textures, field recordings, clattering beats and distorted jazz sax with fizzing orchestral arrangements.

    "Like many, with all that's been going on since I started making the record, I've struggled to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel," says Barnes, "so I realised there's some sort of power in trying to create our own instead. I'm inspired by the ways we're communicating now, for better or worse, and thinking about new channels we can distribute ideas. The idea of looking for flexible future ways of expression and language, that bends to our needs quicker, really excites me”. Barnes launched the record with a unique experiment in new ways to disseminate music, personally sending album tracks through messaging app WhatsApp to anyone who asked.

    The album shifts from 'The Highest Flood's skeletal bounce to 'Panic's claustrophobic paranoia; the rapturous hyperballad 'Arms Out' to the windswept and cinematic ‘Knife Edge’, navigating through the orchestral glitch of 'War It' to decaying jazz thump of ‘Raw Language’. The album is equal parts disorienting and immersive, balancing bold sweeping gestures and crumbling textures; tracks seemingly disintegrating and reassembling at points across the album. Blending both digital and specially recorded brass, strings and vocals, Barnes's processing never truly makes it clear what's new or old, sampled or unique, constantly blurring and toying with the line between digital and acoustic.

    There will also be a variety of multidisciplinary projects set to run through his Dense Truth umbrella over the coming year: collaborations across dance, performance, film and music. Previous Forest Swords projects include devising and scoring contemporary dance piece ‘Shrine’, composing for the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video game, collaborating with Massive Attack on their new music, and scoring the first movie made entirely with drones – 'In The Robot Skies’ – which debuted at the BFI London Film Festival.

    Central to this enthralling world is “Compassion", an album that's as weighty as it is vulnerable, sculpting the most striking parts of his previous work into something that feels urgent and necessary, and cementing Barnes as one of the UK's most significant electronic artists and composers.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Martin says: I’ve always had a soft spot for Forest Swords paranoid, rhythmic soundscapes. That the emotion that inspires Matthew Barnes' music is born of his view of the current political situation, the brooding angularity hung on its sparse frame is hardly surprising. An uneasy marriage of analogue and electronic fragments, shot through, reflecting the world situation perhaps, with a germ of hope.

    TRACK LISTING

    War It
    The Highest Flood
    Panic
    Exalter
    Border Margin Barrier
    Arms Out
    Vandalism
    Sjurvival
    Raw Language
    Knife Edge


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