Forest Swords

Forest Swords tour - A2

Mistletone and Thump are proud to present for the first time in Australia, acclaimed electronic musician Forest Swords. Performing as a duo and integrating immersive HD projections, Forest Swords live show is a truly overwhelming experience.


FRI MAR 13 – Unsound Festival, Adelaide. Tickets and information from Adelaide Festival.
SAT MAR 14 – Howler, Melbourne with special guests Kangaroo Skull + Andrew Tuttle. Tickets on sale now from Moshtix.
SUN MAR 15 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney with special guests Cassius Select + Noise In My Head DJ. Tickets on sale now from Moshtix.

Forest Swords

Forest Swords is Matthew Barnes, who hails from The Wirral in North West England on the Welsh border. With a dubwise predilection for gauzy textures and sensual fuzzy gasps, his production work betrays a love of R&B and hip-hop with a pop sensibility. His debut studio EP Dagger Paths (2010), a record so eerie and expansive that it touched on both Ennio Morricone and early Massive Attack while still sounding resolutely unique, received huge critical acclaim. Despite its EP length, it was named FACT Magazine’s #1 album of the year, appeared in the Top 50 Pitchfork albums of the year, was named “one of 2010′s finest underground records” by NME, and one of The Guardian’s Hidden Gems of 2010.

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’) and NYC rap youngster Haleek Maul; and released tracks made with German fine artist Otto Baerst online, under the Dyymond of Durham moniker; and was commissioned to remix These New Puritans, Wild Beasts, Gold Panda and The Big Pink.

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. Engravings, the long-awaited debut album by Forest Swords, was released last year through Tri Angle records and was named Best New Music by Pitchfork on release. Engravings is the sound of his home peninsula of The Wirral, a stone’s throw from Liverpool, a place imbued with spirit and history (‘Thor’s Stone’ takes its title from a local slab of sandstone, said to be used for Norse god sacrifices by Viking settlers). Completed over the course of the year, Barnes mixed the entire record outdoors in the Wirral countryside on his laptop: as such, Engravings is a record that feels as exposed and organic as his immediate environment; beaches and bark, sand and soil.

Recently named by Björk as one of her “most loved”, Forest Swords won Merseyside music’s coveted GIT Award. Unavailable to attend the concert due to a sold out show in Brighton, Forest Swords sent a video acceptance speech made on his behalf by seminal dub artist, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry; who had already cast his hand over Thor’s Stone, remixing the lead track from Engravings.

Other Forest Swords endeavours include soundtracking Ubisoft’s new ‘Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’ game trailer and collaborating with Benjamin Millepied, director at the Paris Opera Ballet and choreographer of the film Black Swan, who directed the video for “The Weight of Gold“.

Forest Swords is a rarity in electronic music – his unflinchingly powerful body of songs is both euphoric and bleak, triumphant and heavy. To quote The Fader, it “exists in that sweet spot of musical influence between everything and nothing”. In a recent review of his Way Out West performance, Resident Advisor called it “one of the festival’s most thrilling moments… It was a magnificent set—orchestral and sonically rich but abrasive, the reverb- and dub-soaked sound crying out for a mammoth speaker stack”.