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Engravings

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Engravings
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Audio CD, September 17, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

In 2010 Forest Swords, the musical guise of Matt Barnes, introduced his unique and highly evocative sound with the release of his debut EP Dagger Paths. Developing a word of mouth, cult following, the release was critically lauded upon, landing positions on numerous 'Best of' lists that year. Heralded as an artist on the rise with big things ahead of him, Forest Swords took his newfound interest and for very personal reasons did what many artists wouldn't have done in his position; he practically vanished.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Tri Angle Records
  • ASIN: B00E4LBZVO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,231 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music
I listen to lots of electronic music and I'm a professional musician. I really enjoy this record; I've been listening to it a lot since I downloaded it. Really nice textures. Pretty low key and mellow over all, not high energy or dance-y. I'd definitely call this electronic music, although most of the drum sounds are real, there aren't many syths, etc. It sounds very grounded and earthy. I'm always looking for new sounds and textures in electronic music. I'm not sure if there is anything truly new going on here, but man, this record sounds SO great. Really well produced, and it definitely creates a mood. I suggest you listen to a few cuts on you tube to get a sense for it before you buy. Some of this record I'd almost describe as ambient. Definitely one of my favorite records I've picked up this year.
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2013 has proven to be a very good year for electronic music, with Boards of Canada's Tomorrow's Harvest, Jon Hopkins' Immunity and now Forest Swords' Engravings all at the top of the list. Engravings follows 2010's Dagger Paths EP as the first full-length album from producer Matthew Barnes. It's a hell of a debut, refining an organic sound that is at once nuanced and accessible, innovative and familiar. Each song emerges through the progressive cohesion of distinct, even disparate elements that are assembled with uncanny dexterity. The result is warmly atmospheric and layered with an almost mythic intensity, suggesting an immersion in the music of an imagined era.

With Engravings, Forest Swords' primarily instrumental approach is often masterfully textured with fractured, drifting voices, adding rich emotional tones that subtly invoke celebration, longing and reverie. The album tends to flow incredibly well, but two tracks --"Onward" and "Gathering"-- rely on overly repetitive structures that I find initially intrusive. Both resolve in such a way, however, that they seem to support the logic of the whole. At times dreamlike, contemplative, brooding and ecstatic, Engravings dodges easy classification, creating a lush interior world that becomes more inviting with each listen.
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Matt Barnes, in his own home in North West England, created Engravings employing sturdy loops, simple beats, and evocative guitar lines,he renders a moody, dark,faded-memory vibe,that skirts so many genres I feel the need to give him a new one I'd call Darkstep. Every song is boldly sensual, and each note has a distinct emotional hue. Mixing that intensity with dream-like atmospheres lands Engravings in a unique emotional space, one Barnes accurately describes as a "balance between really intense euphoria and bleakness." This may sound like a formula for something jarring but Engravings feels more like floating through a dark, ancient, subterranean, labyrinth. There are a few buried vocals, Barnes' own voice, which he sampled and then edited down to a nearly molecular level. This digital abstraction of the music's most human element gives Engravings subliminal warmth, as if the ghosts of long-dead lyrics are watching over the songs. His one-man music is a personal affair: you can practically hear him thinking through the songs as they unfold, and all the reverb and atmosphere make them feel like internal monologues. Barnes incorporates field recordings and refers to his locale in song titles; he also mixed the entire album on his laptop while sitting outside. Opening his process up a bit to include his environment perhaps explains how music this skeletal can sound like it has so much blood coursing through it. Unrestricted by words or verse-chorus structures, Barnes' songs reflect the way life can feel like an endless loop, growing and building without ever losing its cyclical nature. If you like dark genre bending music the likes of Dead Can Dance you'll like this. They now, both share a place on my heavy rotation stack.
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One of my favorites of 2013 for sure. Dark melodic mix of electronic and real instrumentation. Beautiful. Sometimes finding a groove. Sometimes floating, searching, and then sucking me in again. Another great release from Forest Swords.
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