Merseysider Matthew Barnes initially piqued interest in his Forest Swords material with 2010’s ‘Dagger Paths’ EP, an eerie set possessed of considerable promise.
But then, silence – the reason for the hiatus being that Barnes was experiencing significant hearing problems.
‘Engravings’ is an overdue debut album, then, composed across Barnes’ rehabilitation, but it’s one that delivers on the potential exhibited from day one.
This is mood-manifesting music of exceptional quality, experimental electronic fare of substance and, crucially, heart.
It aches and groans, creeping between shadows, always a hair’s breadth from the back of your neck.
Barnes’ winning trick is to ensure balance, though, between the epic blackness and shafts of light: ‘Thor’s Stone’ is moderately sprightly, for example, a corner-of-the-dancefloor shuffle in some basement den.
‘Onward’, though, is all creep-out clicks and spooked keys, and ‘Gathering’ loops disjointed voices into a slow-motion shamanistic trance.
Sink deeply into it, and experience a most exquisitely articulated darkness.
Words: Mike Diver
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