Forest Swords - Compassion
Forest Swords, aka acclaimed Merseyside-based producer Matthew Barnes, returns with his eagerly anticipated new full-length record. Compassion, the follow-up to 2013's critically lauded debut Engravings, is released via Ninja Tune. The album will be followed by a set of projects across multiple mediums by Forest Swords’ own Dense Truth, a new experimental studio and record label, including a series of music videos. Compassion engages with an uncertain world we’re experiencing, distilling it into a unique sound territory: Barnes' exploration of the mid-point between ecstasy and frustration, artificial and human feels timely and affecting. The result is an assured, compelling body of work, tying together the ancient and future: weaving swathes of buzzing digital textures, field recordings, clattering beats and distorted jazz sax with fizzing orchestral arrangements. The album shifts from The Highest Flood's skeletal bounce to Panic's claustrophobic paranoia; the rapturous hyperballad Arms Out to the windswept and cinematic Knife Edge, navigating through the orchestral glitch of War It to decaying jazz thump of Raw Language. The album is equal parts disorienting and immersive, balancing bold sweeping gestures and crumbling textures; tracks seemingly disintegrating and reassembling at points across the album. Blending both digital and specially recorded brass, strings and vocals, Barnes's processing never truly makes it clear what's new or old, sampled or unique, constantly blurring and toying with the line between digital and acoustic. Central to this enthralling world is Compassion, an album that's as weighty as it is vulnerable, sculpting the most striking parts of his previous work into something that feels urgent and necessary, and cementing Barnes as one of the UK's most significant electronic artists and composers.