Forest Swords: Dagger Paths (Olde English Spelling Bee)
This EP from Matthew Barnes resides coolly in the intersection between dub, post-punk (think Seventeen Seconds-era Cure) and the woozy, slow un-dance music that’s being mislabeled as “witch house” by bloggers and indie rags. The basslines and delay found in many of the tracks on Dagger Paths are clearly influenced by old-school dub, with repetitive basslines and a lot of wet reverb. The arrangements take more of a cue from the reductive post-punk of Joy Division or Young Marble Giants, combining guitar, bass and stripped down drums with the dub aesthetic. Samples and effects dominate the rest of the sound, though, with a tendency to sprinkle affected samples within the mix. “Glory Gongs” is one of the stronger tracks, with a vocal fragment that serves as a sort of loose refrain; guitar and keyboard loops circle around it, perpetuating the dub-meets-Factory Records likeness. “If Your Girl” has a thunderous percussion section that recalls the darkest moments of The Cure’s Pornography album. The entire release feels somehow disembodied, floating through time. It sounds both current (if one considers the current fascination with so-called “witch house”) and classic, new and old. But they dodge aligning too clearly with any passing trend, having creating something that feels nebulous but irresistible.
Watch/listen: Glory Gongs