No Pain in Pop
While Forest Sword’s ‘Dagger Paths’ might seem like old news now given its February release on US imprint Olde English Spelling Bee, only now has it been made available in the UK. This CD package released through No Pain in Pop not only features all six tracks from the initial vinyl release, but also both tracks from the Rattling Cage 7”, as well as remixes and rarities. Basically, if you like what you’ve heard so far from this talented new artist; this is your essential collection to the beguiling sounds of Forest Swords.
For the unacquainted, Forest Swords is the one man project of Matt Barnes from Wirral, UK. Although perhaps inspired by the evolution of dubstep in the last few years, his otherworldly music has a sound of its own that is equally influenced by post-punk and psych-rock. Barnes twists and combines all these varying styles of music until they are unrecognisable, bringing them into his own truly idiosyncratic vision.
One of Barnes’ best qualities is his great spatial awareness, avoiding the clutter of modern electronic productions in favour of exploring the potent grooves and melodies within Dagger Path’s many layers. Opening track ‘Mirarches’, for example, focuses on a meandering guitar part which leads the listener through the song’s various sonic delights. Whether it be the bursts of reverb laden guitar that drift in and out of the track, or the haunting female backing vocal that lurks in the background, there’s always plenty going on yet the music never feels congested.
With such a dynamic and unusual songwriting craft, it’s difficult to pinpoint who are the contemporaries of Forest Swords. While Dagger Paths has the darkness of artists like Balam Acab and Salem, its approach is more organic, perhaps inspired by the rugged landscapes of Wirral itself. Either way, it’s a fascinating and hypnotic record that grows with every listen, hinting at a bright future ahead for Forest Swords.