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Album of the Week: Forest Swords 'Engravings'

Melodic Electronic Journey 2.0: After three years of silence, Forest Swords is back with a vengeance.

Artist: Forest Swords
Album: Engravings
Label: Tri Angle
Release Date: 26/08/2013

Engravings is the long awaited debut album from Forest Swords, the moniker of one man band artist and producer Matthew Barnes. This has been a long time coming after the hugely acclaimed EP Dagger Paths back in 2010 which won various awards including FACT's Number 1 Album of 2010. Recreating such a distinct, strong sound is no easy feat, which could possibly be one of the reasons behind such a lengthy gap between his debut EP and Engravings.

The album commences with Ljoss, the tentative sounds of violins welcoming you into a melodic almost medieval-sounding yet very much musically forward journey. Involuntary synaesthesia trickles through your mind as you listen to this album, each track full of beautifully dark dingy colours and machinery, contrasted with ethereal forests and the scent of pine needles.

An Hour is certainly a favourite for me, filled with subtle ghostly vocals, chimes and a great use of reverb, and on the more brilliantly unsettling side, the track Onward juxtaposes harsh reverberating clanking with delicate beautiful strings and marching drums.

Engravings is one of those great albums you can appreciate and gain more from every time you listen to it. It did take me a little bit of time to get into this album initially, but like the failsafe trick of wearing in new shoes by wearing them to bed (thank me for that one later), falling asleep to it and letting it get ‘engraved' in my sub conscious meant that on next listen I gained a new level of understanding for it. The order of tracks is hugely important in this one to me also, put together delectably the way poetry is ordered in a collection or art is arranged in a gallery. That's not to say you can't just jump into the murky waters and nymph-like vocals of Anneka's Battle or tread along the mystic paths of Irby Tremor's slinky tiptoeing bass lines with its echoed pan pipes and metal clangs.

As a whole, the album is a delicious droning of melodic electronic that is without a doubt worth listening to. I'd recommend starting it at dusk and hearing the sound transition as the sun sets.


01. Ljoss
02. Thor's Stone
03. Irby Tremor
04. Onward
05. The Weight of Gold
06. An Hour
07. Anneka's Battle
08. Gathering
09. The Plumes
10. Friend, You Will Never Learn

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