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Forest Swords: Show Preview 

Wednesday, Mar 12 2014

Calling a musician "original" in 2014 is a tricky thing. There's so much content and so many variations on existing ideas out there that it's difficult to find something that truly feels fresh. Forest Swords, the stage moniker of English producer Matthew Barnes, is that rare exception. After losing a job as a graphic designer circa 2009, the former art school student was bored and began tinkering with music programs. His output is genuinely tough to categorize, as his music shows the influence of electronic, dub, trip-hop, R&B, industrial, and ambient without hitching its fortunes to any one of those styles. Engravings, his debut full-length released last August, contains an epic, windswept bit of Spaghetti Western balladry ("Ljoss"); an imposing, nightmarish "song" whose rhythms slam like dozens of prison cell doors closing in succession ("Onward"); and a bouquet of sparkling strings accompanied by a divine drum beat ("The Weight of Gold"). "A lot of the songs walk that line between being very dark and very sad and very bleak, but also really joyous and euphoric and beautiful," he told SPIN about Engravings, and his words ring true.

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Reyan Ali

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