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iTunes Review

Pretty, dark, and often bleak, the music of Forest Swords (England’s Matthew Barnes) is inarguably something to get lost in. Weaving an intricate, alluring web of trip-hop, psych, dub, and electronica, Engravings picks up quite nicely where Forest Swards’ Fjree Feather EP earlier in the year left off. Muted tom drums, echoing vocal wisps, muffled Mellotron, and what could be glistening charango (or perhaps oud) strings are but a few of the tools that paint Forest Sword’s rhythm-based dreamscapes, which this time around aren't quite as menacing. The mechanized, amorphous ghosts of “Onward” and the organic, Middle Eastern–inflected sounds of “Ljoss” aren’t as unsettling as they are mesmerizing; the glorious choir interrupting the chopped, looped vocals on “Gathering” and the haunting female vocals on “Anneka’s Battle” are prime examples of beauty winning over bleak. “Thor’s Stone,” “The Weight of Gold,” and “Friend, You Will Never Learn” are stunning tracks of clarity and esoteric adventure that listeners will return to again and again.

Customer Reviews

evocative and atmospheric

the RZA's new favorite meditation music. really excellent, deep listen.

Great Wee Hours Stuff!

Matt Barnes has put out some fantastic sounds here. It's chill and edgy, dark and moody, shoe gazy and dubby. Often evoking ancient vibes with sounds so fresh and unique with their attack and texture. The last track [especially] easily makes its way onto my sexytime lovers mix! You have to love a release that rewards repeat listening, and this delivers. Two ears way up!

one of the bests for 2013

this really grew on me, the melodies stick in my head. layered, atmospheric, perfect headphone music.


Formed: Wirral, Merseyside, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The project of producer/graphic designer Matthew Barnes, Forest Swords fashions hip-hop-inspired beats with atmospheric samples and evocative guitar work into dreamlike tracks that evoke the windy coastal terrain of his home in England's Wirral Peninsula. As a teen, Barnes made four-track recordings, drawing inspiration not just from hip-hop and electronic music, but also from punk and pop groups such as Sugababes. He began issuing music as Forest Swords in 2009, including the self-released EP Fjree...
Full Bio
Engravings, Forest Swords
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Customer Ratings