You’re sat in an armchair. Eyes closed. Head wrenching backwards in astonished shock due to the laser-pistol beam of information that has just melted into your mind as a result of the fatal twist that has just ended the 12 series long Utopian future drama you’d been watching since January.
Imagine that image and all the neural information that fires around your body to create it. That fraction of a second moment, captured in the slowest of slow motion and replayed spanning the 5:54 of ‘War It’, the first track from the mesmerising new album ‘Compassion’ from UK Producer Forest Swords.
‘Compassion’ is Forest Swords’ third release and is preceded by ‘Engravings’ (2013) and ‘Dagger Paths’ (2010). This one sees you moved from the warped choral chant and post apocalyptic flashes of ‘The Highest Flood’ to the hypnoti-tribal drums, muffled screams and strained vocal exclaims of ‘Panic’.
The mood moves to more positive ground on ‘Exalter’ where the same shredded gospel stabs glide between playful high trills and raspy low horns. All of this interspersed with legato strings, sustained piano chords and an array of oppositely panned percussion. The sum of sonic information that lies in the track could feel overwhelming if executed poorly. Forest Swords however, has mastered positioning each of these sounds in a way that allows you to identify it and position it in the scene that each track aids you to mentally design.
A very delicate and, yeah, compassionate base lies beneath the album. Even the military parade meets bin lid percussion fronted ‘Vandalism’ has its more tender moments. The small mountain bell that guides your transition through movements in the track being one example.
Forest Swords shows a very deft ability to absorb norms and structures from genres outside of his own (as difficult to describe as that may be) and repurpose them in his unique way. There is a section in ‘Raw Language’ that could easily sit under the scatter gun flow of N17’s latest grime star.
So why describe all these scenarios to pair with the songs? That’s just how this album compelled us to share our thoughts. When an album can get you thinking creatively in some way, that’s a great sign. We highly recommend you get yourself immersed in ‘Compassion’ to see where it can take you. Maybe from the comfort of an armchair…
‘Compassion’ is out now on Ninja Tune