Boomkat Product Review:
Forest Swords’ decayed yet magisterial palette broadens with the scope of his canvas on a widely anticipated new album, Compassion; marking his shift in line from bedroom producer of note to recent collaborator with Massive Attack and composer for the Assassins Creed video game.
His first new solo material proper since the Engravings [2013, Tri Angle] album locates the Merseyside-hailing artist scaling up his compositions to a more layered, pinched and grandiose sound but still kept just out of reach, somewhere in the middle distance, like the outline of a sunlit mountain range in the distance occluded by a spring storm.
The R&B ruggedness that was key to his cherished earlier work belies Compassion, too. Echoing a beat-driven aesthetic that resonates with the rich history of his home region, a place cleft between sprawling, sea-sprayed wilds, concrete brutalism and mock classical architecture that makes for strong allegorical comparisons with his music.
Likewise we’re tempted to read a struggle between roots-preserving conservatism and tentative progress in Compassion, finding a balance of pop appeal and rustic authenticity that characterises the albums highlights such as the contrasting couplet of Exalter, with its choked-back choral swells and folk/R&B sensuality, and the sombre sepulchre of Border Margin Barrier, wreathed in gorse distortion, or especially in the dirtied brass gleam and haunted, stately poise of Vandalism and the blue supine elegy of Sjurvival.
For sure he’s going to lose no fans with this one, and will likely gain a swathe more.
RIYL Richard Skelton, Massive Attack, Arca, Phillip Jeck...