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Forest Swords
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Forest Swords
Fri 11th Apr 2014 @ The Green Door Store

Headliner: Forest Swords
Event: Be Nothing presents
In support: Adolescent
When: Fri 11th Apr 2014
Time: 7:00pm
Age restriction: 18+
Other info: Event page

The project of the Merseyside, UK native Matthew Barnes, Forest Swords crept into the underground consciousness in 2009 with the release of acclaimed EP ‘Dagger Paths’ (Olde English Spelling Bee/No Pain In Pop) – a record so eerie and expansive that it touched on both Ennio Morricone and early Massive Attack, while still sounding resolutely unique. The release received critical acclaim, and – despite being just EP length – charted in Pitchfork’s Top 50 records of the year, and as FACT’s #1 album.

Subsequently battling hearing problems, Barnes was forced to take a break from his own music, returning to his work as a designer and artist. In the ensuing period, he completed sound commissions for art festivals (including a piece involving tracks cut on disintegrating x-ray film dubplates; new Forest Swords compositions heard in public just once); lent his skills to other artists, including co-writing and production for How To Dress Well (‘Cold Nites’, from his recent album ‘Total Loss’) and NYC rap youngster Haleek Maul; and released tracks made with German fine artist Otto Baerst online under the Dyymond of Durham moniker.

Slowly but surely, Barnes started work back on his Forest Swords project with a clear vision and renewed passion. Unwilling to spend long amounts of time in a studio, he looked around his own environment for inspiration.

The Green Door Store


Goods Yard, Brighton Station



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Forest Swords

19/04/2014 By James McLarnon

Forest SwordsLike his dubby, down tempo and hard to categorise music, Matthew Barnes’s Forest Swords project moves at its own tempo, unencumbered by external concerns. With this in mind it is no surprise that it took three years to follow up his extremely well received Dagger Paths EP of 2010. Between these records he thought long and hard about withdrawing from music all together as he battled a particularly violent case of tinnitus, finally breaking his silence with a co-write and co-produce on How To Dress Well’s ‘Cold Nites’ single of 2012. He brings his live show to Brighton – following a Great Escape show in 2012 – to support last year’s excellent Engravings LP.

Engravings, a clear highlight of 2013, arrived courtesy of ultra-hip, Brooklyn-based underground electronic label Tri Angle Records – home to Haxan Cloak, Vessel, oOoOO and Clams Casino – garnering adoring press. Triangle is a record label that seems to attract iconoclastic acts specialising in the shadowy margins of non-dancefloor electronica and it is easy to see why Engravings found a home there. What is remarkable about Engravings is how singular its vision is; each song tends to have one or two easily identified motifs, more often than not evoking an Eastern ambience, with thoughtful but sparse beats throughout. It’s a discombobulating listen at times, it’s hard to tell if the music is mainly sampled or live, or if the lush but somehow distant production is of a result of its mixing being done outdoors. What is fundamentally clear from just a few listens is that there isn’t much else out there that sounds like it, it loosely recalls one of Adrian Sherwood’s dubby On U Sound Records bands feasting on a diet of early Burial. There’s a feeling of unease throughout that gives them a distant kinship with Andy Stott or Demdike Stare, or the kind of thing you’d imagine playing at Brighton’s own Outer Church evenings.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds like the sort of act that would struggle to come across coherently in a live setting but that Great Escape show 18 months ago confirmed otherwise. Performing as a duo with Barnes’s electronics augmented by a live bassist, their sound is so naturally entrancing that the 45 minutes to an hour they are slated to play will feel like 15 minutes. The intimate, worn and chilly confines of the Green Door Store should be just about the perfect setting.

At the time of writing, supports are unconfirmed. However, promoters Be Nothing are experts in selecting local, relevant acts to play its nights and there’s no reason to think this night will be any different.

Forest Swords and Adolescent

26/04/2014 By James McLarnon

It was tough to consider this gig outside the context laid by East India’s Youth’s triumphant show at the same venue – The Green Door Store – a couple of months ago. Friday night? Check. Full expectant venue? Check. Recently released debut LP? Check. Critically acclaimed? Check. Predominantly electronic? Check. Forest Swords would have some way to go to top that gig.

AdolescentFirst were Adolescent, a bass and electronics duo under the management banner of Joe Grant, main man behind the evening’s promoters Be Nothing. They are definitely ambitious, running through a variety of sounds in their half hour slot. The first track – with its sluggish, methodical beats, over-driven synths and simple basslines – recalls the witchy atmosphere of OoOOo or Salem. There’s an exciting hiss and crackle throughout, though it’s difficult to discern if it is an intentional or serendipitidous distressed flavour to proceedings. Second track, the recently released ‘Golden Halls (Part 2)‘, is the high point of the set, with its metronomic percussion and blissed-out synth line recalling a chilled, early u-ziq. However, twice the duo doesn’t quite nail the song as they should. They’ll come back better and stronger for the experience and will be worth catching at their free EP release show at the Bermuda Triangle on 12 May.

Given the excellent critical response to 2013’s long awaited debut album Engravings it seems odd that the Liverpool-based Matthew Barnes and his bassist opted to kick off with two tracks that predated that record. Even in the down-tempo, slow motion, future-dub world of Forest Swords, ‘Rattling Cage’ and ‘The Light’ are two of the least rabble rousing tracks on offer and both Forest Swordswere performed in their customary understated fashion to a slightly muted response. Engravings opener “Ljoss’s” familiar Eastern tinged refrain then poked through the haze and for the remainder of the gig the crowd’s attention increased significantly with the nodding of heads rather than the moving of feet.

The duo appears to eschew the attention of the crowd by playing at each other in a manner those who have seen Fuck Buttons will be familiar with. This suits the low-key, anonymous nature of the music but, unlike East India Youth’s exuberance, makes it difficult to feel any personal attachment to the project as it unfolds in front of you. The thoughtful projections offered genuine focus to each song and Barnes’s subtle, live remixing of his own tracks kept thing interesting though. The remainder of the set was dominated by the new album with ‘The Weight of Gold’, ‘Thor’s Stone’, ‘Friend You Will Never Learn’ and ‘Gathering’ all received politely.

Intriguingly, they chose to encore with two unreleased songs. The first track followed the template laid down by earlier offerings, a slow, heavy, dubby bassline with a repeated, memorable electronic motif across it. The second track appeared to move into instrumental hip-hop territory, all it was lacking was a rap. Perhaps that’s the way that Barnes plans to spice up his musically excellent but slightly un-inclusive live experience in the future. He’s got the songwriting and production skills but needs a visual focus to progress further.

Be Nothing


Be Nothing is a promotions duo consisting of Joe and Carin. We don’t discriminate with genre, almost anything goes. We love the shows that we do and put pretty much all we have into them, so we hope you enjoy them too.

Previous guests include:
Kohwi / Fishing / Guerre / Outfit / Gross Magic / Sun Glitters / Regal Safari / Com Truise / Teengirl Fantasy / La Femme / S.C.U.M / Bo Ningen / Lovepark / High Places / Anneka / Halls / Tourist / Girls Names / Splashh / Walls / Jacuzzi Boys / Keel Her / Shudder Pulps / Holy Other / Vessel / Deep Time / Birdskulls / Balam Acab / Deptford Goth / Adolescent / Paws / TOPS / Mac DeMarco / Fear Of Men / Ital / Nathan Fake / Ghosting Season / Chris Cohen / Hundredth Anniversary / Joey Fourrv / Boneyards / Meddicine

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