ForestSwords (aka electronic producer/composer Matthew Barnes) returns with a new album ‘Bolted’. Having spent the past few years working as an in-demand composer and sound designer – writing music for ballet, film and video games – ‘Bolted’ was recorded over the past year in a warehouse factory space in Barnes’ home city of Liverpool. Across its 11 tracks he dives deeper into his unique sonic vocabulary to weave together a set of tracks that sounds equally muscular and bleak, haunting and euphoric.
As ever in his music, melancholy and euphoria, monochrome and colour, past and future all feel ambiguous. Emotions shift from moment to moment, differences between digital and acoustic instruments more smeared than ever: a queering of time, space and sonics that feels equally playful and totally vital.
Alongside the announcement comes “The Low”, a moody, metallic trip hop single lifted from the album. Speaking on the track Barnes comments, “’The Low’ was based on a beat I’d originally intended for Yoko Ono, and features elements I made both at the start and end of the album, so ties together a lot of the sounds and emotions I was exploring during the writing process. The accompanying video directed with Sam Wiehl expands on some of my artwork and visual world that accompanies the record”.
“The Low” arrives shortly after the release of the “Butterfly Effect” single – part industrial electronica, part greyscale pop, shifting Forest Swords’ world deeper into murkier, more paranoid territory, with a previously-unheard vocal sample by the legendary singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry. Upon its release the single received support from the likes of Pitchfork, FADER, DJMag, Stereogum, Clash, Line of Best Fit, Dork and more.
While his previous album – the acclaimed ‘Compassion’ released in 2017 – saw Barnes toy with widescreen technicolour, the world of ‘Bolted’ is tightly wound, taught, with a sense of aching urgency like never before. Fizzing deconstructed synths, heavily distorted mallets and marimbas bounce off clattering beats and foggy vocals, all balanced out with lightly dancing woodwind instruments; a layer of dust covering the surface of every track.
Elsewhere on ‘Bolted’ we hear “Munitions” chugging industrial throb kick off the record, through to “End’s” melancholy nostalgia, before plunging back into the psychedelic pounding of urgent closer “Line Gone Cold”, a rumination on grief with a signoff from the late LeeScratchPerry.
Defiant, desolate, and darkly beautiful: ‘Bolted’ cements ForestSwords as one of the most remarkable and singular voices working in electronic music. The album will be released on the 20th October on NinjaTune.
Barnes will also perform a selection of UK/EU live dates this winter, including a headline show at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Tickets available from https://forestswords.co.uk
Pre-Save / Pre-Order ‘Bolted’ – here