TOTD // 17/10 // Forest Swords

Published: October 17, 2017, words by John Carter

Part of the All Ears takeover


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Houston

Forest Swords, the release-focused music alias from the creative mind of Matthew Barnes, has treasured us with a totally unique aesthetic from its humble beginnings. Hailing from The Wirral in the north of England, with its deep Viking and Norse history, Forest Swords’ sound is powerful and draining yet beautiful; mixing the modern with the ancient.

My first encounter with Matthew Barnes’ music was his debut full length, Engravings. The album was born out of inspiration from his hometown, “The Wirral Peninsula, the chisel-shaped cul-de-sac between Liverpool and Chester” as The Quietus described it in 2013. Matthew produced the album predominantly on just his laptop, sitting outside on Thurstaston Hill until the battery ran out, taking in inspiration directly from his surroundings and feeding it straight into his production. I knew nothing of The Wirral or Thurstaston Hill, as most who bought his album didn’t, but his deep connection and true feeling towards this setting shone through and spoke to the masses.

Fast forward to this year and we get Compassion. In this sophomore LP we hear Forest Swords reaching out with his artistry, tackling themes of global communication and fake news as opposed to his inward-facing first album. Grander, deeper, multi-layered and dense – Barnes broadens his instrumentation to orchestral levels, utilising more heavily processed samples than ever heard before in his previous work. He blurs the lines between real-world and synthesised sounds such that he can’t even recognise the sources of his own sounds himself when listening back – running parallel to the current media world rife with fake news. The underlying emotion and melancholy in Compassion are more devoted to expressing life’s many struggles.

Matthew Barnes may have never expressed his creativity through his Forest Swords moniker, however, as he once considered giving up music due to his tinnitus. Luckily, for both himself and us fans, he has learned to cope with the condition and continues to create beautiful music, the latest of which can be heard here.

He is now currently on tour, having just arrived in the UK from Europe for his first gig last night in Bristol. Ahead of his London appearance at Village Underground tomorrow, we caught up with Matthew to get an insight into what music helps him relax and cope with stress and tiredness – something much needed when on tour, especially with tinnitus.

Get your tickets for Forest Swords and Village Underground here. We will also be there with our All Ears campaign, and you can reserve a pair of earplugs with us by following this link.

via youtube

Mogwai

Cody

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This is one of my favourite Mogwai songs, and is lifted from Come On Die Young which is one of their best records in my opinion. It teeters on being completely bleak but just the right side of beautiful. I wake up in the night with it going around my head sometimes. The slightly scratchy production compliments the really stunning melodies. I could listen to this song all day.  ”
via youtube

Steve Reich

Six Marimbas

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“When my ears get a bit tired I find repetition can be really useful, and Steve Reich is the master of that kind of thing. I’ve heard lots of different renditions of ‘Six Marimbas’ and it’s one of my favourite pieces of his. There’s something really pleasing about the sound of all those vibrations working together and weaving in and out of each other.    ”
via youtube

Björk

Ambergris March

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This is a bit of a deep cut in Björk‘s catalogue but the first time I heard it I was blown away. It’s lifted from the ‘Drawing Restraint 9’ soundtrack. She went to Japan to study ancient Japanese music for it, and this is one of the resulting songs. It’s wonderful from start to finish, layered and winding.    ”
via youtube

Alice Coltrane

Shiva-Loka

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“This is a collaboration with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, taken from one of my favourite Alice Coltrane albums. Her harp and his sax play really wonderfully together across the course of the record – though this track is probably one of the more low key on it, it’s a real favourite of mine.”

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