On debut album ‘Engravings’, Merseyside-based producer Matthew Barnes – or Forest Swords – made music that was highly evocative of the clash between man and nature that even his own name suggested. It sounded like the soundtrack to an ancient pagan ritual while still reminding you occasionally of its actual contemporary origins.
In the few years since, Barnes has worked on compositions for the ‘Assassin’s Creed’, collaborated with Massive Attack and soundtracked ‘In The Robot Skies’, the first film made entirely with drones. With his comeback single ‘The Highest Flood’ though, he’s back doing what he does best: crafting electronic music that all but completely blurs the lines between the synthetic and the organic.
This isn’t simply a rehash of what Matthew has done in the past though. Instead, he’s been “thinking a lot about the ways we need to forge new paths in language, communication and our connection with the natural world”. ‘The Highest Flood’ achieves this in dramatic fashion, its almost doom-laden bursts of brass and incredibly choppy slices of electronica combining to create an almost dystopian vision.
The choral elements epitomise the search for “new paths in language”, but their sometimes clipped nature is only indicative of what a struggle searching for a greater connection can be in today’s society. It’s simply stunning how Forest Swords can craft such a message about our modern times from something that feels so primordial, making his return feel all the more vital.