Delivered to your inbox each week. Subscribe below.
With every Watch The Hype mix, a limited number of mix CDs will be given away on Facebook. The first people to comment on the post win a copy. To be in with a chance, follow the instuctions below.
Part of the All Ears takeover
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.