Forest Swords – Engraving - 2013 IDM Exp Dub Downtempo Psych - Sealed 2LP
Forest Swords – Engravings
Tri Angle – TRIANGLE20
2 × Vinyl, 12", 33 ⅓ RPM, Album
17 Sep 2013
Experimental, Dub, Psychedelic Rock
A2 Thor's Stone
A3 Irby Tremor
B2 The Weight Of Gold
C1 An Hour
C2 Anneka's Battle
D1 The Plumes
D2 Friend, You Will Never Learn
Pressed By – GZ Digital Media – 140460E
Mastered By – Carl Saff
Written-By, Producer – M Barnes*
Digital Download Included.
Recorded & mixed on The Wirral / Liverpool, UK
Mastered by Carl Saff, Chicago
Tri Angle Records 2013
Barcode and Other Identifiers
Matrix / Runout (Machine stamp runout side A): 140460E1/B
Matrix / Runout (Machine stamp runout side B): 140460E2/A
Matrix / Runout (Machine stamp runout side C): 140460E3/B
Matrix / Runout (Machine stamp runout side D): 140460E4/B
Matrix / Runout (Etched side A): TRI1020-A
Matrix / Runout (Etched side B): TRI1020-B
Matrix / Runout (Etched side C): TRI1020-C
Matrix / Runout (Etched side D): TRI1020-D
(Pitchfork) " Forest Swords’ 2010 EP Dagger Paths, the web of dub, psych, dance, and drone spun by UK producer Matthew Barnes felt instantly singular. So singular, in fact, that the task of creating a worthy follow-up must have seemed daunting, which I assumed was why it took him a while. It turns out there were other reasons-- for one, he suffered from hearing problems that made his new work sound different with each listen, and forced him to consider ending Forest Swords. But also, in keeping with his music’s slow-growing vibe, he was wary of rushing things. As he admitted in a February interview, “I’m glad I took a step back…I’ve seen so many bands who strike while the iron’s hot and then burn out.”
Barnes’ judgment proved sound, as did his ears, at least in their ability to assess his work. Created at his own pace in his own home in North West England, Engravings is the perfect sequel to Dagger Paths. Barnes steadfastly retains his sturdy loops, simple beats, and evocative guitar lines, refusing to overhaul his potent formula just to dodge accusations that he’s repeating himself. But he also gradually inserts new sounds into that equation, fitting them snugly into his songs’ accumulating layers. The result is both familiar and fresh, cementing Barnes’ knack for creating complex effects with elementary methods.
Engravings also confirms his ability to conjure more than just a chilly, faded-memory vibe. Dagger Paths did that too, but it was easy to get lost in its burned-out echo and miss other ideas and moods that Barnes explored along the way. Here, those diverse facets of his music are unavoidable. Every song is boldly sensual, and each note has a distinct emotional hue. Mixing that intensity with dream-like atmospheres lands Engravings in a unique emotional space, one Barnes accurately describes as a “balance between really intense euphoria and this almost bleakness.”
Trying to balance those opposites could produce disjointed, even jarring art. But one of the biggest strengths of Forest Swords’ music is its fluidity. Although Barnes adds and subtracts loops and beats without hiding the seams, he persistently maintains a DJ-like flow. As a result, following the curving path of his melodies feels more like riding a wave than cutting through choppy waters. So even a track as spliced together as “Onward”-- which opens with a stuttering clang, grafts on glittering guitar, then drifts into strings and a pounding beat-- feels completely logical, as if this is the only way time could march on.
Barnes’ strong sense of flow lets him add new twists to his sound without forcing them in. Often they emerge sneakily, like the radio-static transmissions in “Ljoss”, the New Age piano on “Gathering”, the horn-section accents in “An Hour”, or the near-militaristic beat of ecstatic closer “Friend, You Will Never Learn”. In other places, these additions are clearer, but they’re always well-suited to their environment, as if Barnes had no other choice but to include them in his mix.
That’s especially true of the increased amount of singing on Engravings. The majority of it comes from Barnes’ own voice, which he sampled and then edited down to a nearly molecular level. This digital abstraction of the music’s most human element gives Engravings subliminal warmth, as if the ghosts of long-dead lyrics are watching over the songs. At times, vocals even become the fo
cus: “Gathering” is nothing but overlapped singing for its first half, and the inclusion of Brighton-based vocalist Anneka on “Anneka’s Battle” adds vivid soul to Barnes’ brand of negative-space R&B."