Forest Swords – 'Engravings'
Everyone secretly wants to be a ninja. Just ask Forest Swords – electronica producer Matthew Barnes – whose downtempo debut album is perfect for soundtracking those moody, pre-fight stare-outs in scratchy ‘70s martial arts films.
But there’s far more to Barnes’s music than just haunting Oriental melodies and B-movie imagery. ‘Engravings’ is a complex, quietly beautiful record, borrowing from shadowy hip hop, glitchy R&B, dubstep, post-rock guitars and breakbeats. There’s a lot going on, but it always sounds relaxed and spacious – spooky, even – which is testament to Barnes’ production skills.
There are occasional echoes of fellow electronic innovators like Flying Lotus and Mount Kimbie, but in reality, Forest Swords has far more in common with his sedated hip hop counterparts – Evian Christ, Holy Other – on Tri Angle Records, the New York label that released the album. Like those producers, he’s a master at building eerie atmospheres with just a few well-chosen elements. It’s not hard to like ‘Engravings’, but after a few well-timed headphone listens you’ll want to drift into its weird, ninja-strewn woodland world and not come back.
You haven't 'done' Soho until you've been to a gig at The Borderline, simple as. This much-loved venue with a loyal audience has given a platform to countless bands and artists throughout its long history – stretching back over 20 years – and is still going strong today, showcasing both new and revered talent. Head in for a gig on any given day and you could find yourself moshing to rock and metal, getting busy on the dancefloor at an indie club night or perhaps soaking up the sweet tone of a folk, blues or Americana singer-songwriter. It can get a little cramped when the 275-ish capacity fills up, but that's all the better for creating an intimate atmospherewhere between artist and audience, and means you won't have to worry about elbowing your way to the front past thousands of people. A Soho musical institution. We were there when The Borderline reopened in March 2017: