Rating: Woof Daddy
I was trying to explain to someone what Forest Swords sounded like. It became a muddled jumble of "well, they sound like so and so, mixed with whoseit, tossed with thingamajig, with a little bit of milkawhat." I hate comparing a band to someone else; unless of course, the band is basically mimicking another. No one is going to come up with something so revolutionary and new that it will stand out on its own. All new music is basically subtle variations on something prior. With that said, Forest Swords is primarily echoey guitar, tribal drums, and deep droning bass, with snippets of vocals and samples, and atmospheric touches of keyboards and organs. The touchstones are primarily dub, drone, r&b, hip-hop, dubstep, glitch, etc etc. See, I just start with another list.
What I am trying to say is that Dagger Paths just doesn't sound like anything else out there right now. Forest Swords is UK Producer Matthew Barnes who allows his music to breathe; lets his music get into your head, almost hypnotically, before changing into something else as the song mutates. Of the 6 tracks on Dagger Paths (each of them well over the 5 minute mark), I don't think one of them ends the way it begins. Barnes has a uncanny ability to know when to move on, subtly catching you off guard. Each track is a soundtrack to a hallucinatory dream.
The song "Glory Gongs" meanders in a sheen of Asian influenced textures before settling into a bass heavy dub groove, with heavily treated guitars and organs, and decayed vocal samples.
First track "Miarches" starts off atonally, almost obnoxiously, building into a measured attack of slashing, angular guitars and manipulated voices.
And the lonely and forlorn foghorn like guitar swells and tribal drumming of "Visits," surrounded by the deep, howling vocal samples.
Forest Swords - Visits
The music sounds like it was unearthed from long forgotten vaults. His aesthetic even extends to the videos for the songs, patchworks of old films put together into new ways that highlight and draw more emotion from the songs. The songs are mostly lyric-less and formless, except for the dazzling cover version of Aaliyah's "If Your Girl Only Knew." It is one of the most exciting singles of the year. He brings a very haunting homoerotic subtext to the aching song.
Dagger Paths is not for everyone. It surely will not end up in the Top 40, but if you are looking for adventurous music that is exciting and different, it is well worth your time to seek it out. Highly recommended.
Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.
Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.
Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top albums of the year.
Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and peaks one's interest for more material.
Meh: not horrible, but certainly not good; could have either been trimmed or spent more time on.
Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.
Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.