Forest Swords address our “interesting times” with announcement of new album Compassion

Forest Swords address our "interesting times" with announcement of new album Compassion
Photo: Dense Truth

If you ever need convincing that the world isn’t black and white, take a flight into the goddamn Pacific Northwest at almost any given time of the year and appreciate the dome of gray dreariness that lovably verges on being an alternative setting for that movie The Mist.

Or (from an only-slightly more figurative standpoint) try investigating the life and artistic work of Liverpudlian artist and producer Matthew Barnes a.k.a. Forest Swords, who, as my colleague touched upon his review of Engravings, avoids such strict, black-and-white categorization like an inadvertent allergy. And in more ways than one: Barnes has an attraction to rivers but an aversion to open water. He’s an artist in a truly “unbounded” sense, as his graphic design work (which has both complemented and supplemented his musical output) helps illustrate abundantly clearly.

On his newest Forest Swords album, Compassion — which is out May 5 on Ninja Tune — fans can expect a continuation of the vagueness that was initially established on 2010’s viral Dagger Paths EP and refined on the aforementioned Engravings LP two years later. The vocals are reportedly still unintelligible (though in greater volume), while temporally, the music is an intriguing mix of old samples and new/modern composition, which makes theorizing a contextual decade for the overall sound a difficult task. Certainly we’ll recognize the “ancient” undertones that appeared on previous efforts.

BTW: the release of Compassion will precede a 2017 effort on the part of Barnes’s Dense Truth studio to intro artists from an array of disciplines, including dance, performance art, film, and music. Stay tuned for more info regarding those endeavors, as well as pre-orders and live dates. And in the mean time, attune your audio and visual sensibilities to Barnes’ many-shades-of-gray wavelength via the new video for album track “Arms Out” below.

Compassion tracklisting:

01. War It
02. The Highest Flood
03. Panic
04. Exalter
05. Border Margin Barrier
06. Arms Out
07. Vandalism
08. Sjurvival
09. Raw Language
10. Knife Edge

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