Saturday, October 16, 2010

lost in a forest of genres

the good news is that this week i discovered some music that i didn't know about and really like.
the bad news is that this week i discovered some music genres that i didn't know about and really wish i had never heard of.

the other day a friend suggested i should check forest swords. i had a look on youtube, then ended up wasting the next hour at work listening to everything i could find online. when i got home i bought the flacs and they've been on constant play since then. obviously i am a bit behind the times, it appears all the hipsters and tipsters picked this one up straight away. according to the painful review at pitchfork, 'If there's any space left between micro-genres like witch house/drag, hauntology, hypnagogic pop/chillwave, and drone-step, Matthew Barnes [Forest Swords, and i think his name is Mike] has found it.' i hadn't heard of most of this genres, and fuck i wish i hadn't. witch house?! drone-step? i think a more appropriate genre would be 'punch the fucking reviewer in the face-step'.

if you ignore the surrounding bullshit, i think there is something pretty special in what forest swords is doing. rather than me trying to describe it (everything i have read has failed horribly at this task), just watch the videos below, then go buy the flacs/records. that'll work better. what i will say is that listening to this got me super excited. yes, there is a lot genre music being produced (and when i say this i mean established genres like techno, house and now dub-step), and much of this is enjoyable enough. but it is when you go exploring and head to the fringes you can find some really interesting stuff being made. this music may exist between or beyond genres, which can make it difficult to describe, but that's fine.

anyway, the basic point of this post is not to complain about stupid ass genre names, but to suggest that it would be worthwhile tracking down forest swords. for more info, FACT did a good interview with him, there is also a forest swords facebook and myspace. and an his 'dagger paths' EP is coming out on CD next month, which you can pre-order here at a stupidly cheap price. give forest swords a listen. even if it is hard to describe well, it sounds good.


  1. Nice tipsmanship Mr Hobson. In genre hinterland I'm personally enjoying Balam Acab, Raime and the guilty pleasures of Salem. Purism is a creative cul-de-sac.

    I think all this genre fookology tickles a few musicologists turned critics. Personally I find it on the extreme side of tedious.

    I can just about cope with 'Hauntology', as frayed at the edges as it is, mainly because I have a soft spot for Simon Reynolds's splutterings. But 'Witch-House' is the uber-cockiest. Sounds nothing like house for a start - surely a prerequisite?

  2. journos need to eat. or establish ownership/patronage over stuff they receive for review.
    hence the ridonkulous nomenclature. blame keenan. there's probably lots of home made, synth smeared jerry built stuff like forest swords going on in shitty venues near where you live.

  3. Forest Swords are good stuff - better than most things of this ilk going on as of late. But, if you prefer your tribal/drone minus the "indie rock", I'd suggest sticking with something like Vibracathedral Orchestra(you can't ever go wrong there). Or on the other end of the spectrum, something with a ton more bite like PiL's Flowers of Romance.

  4. @ all: and on that tip, make sure you check out Funerary Exposition - amazing new three piece from the Outer Hebrides. The lead singer uses a ghost box she built herself, made out of the splintered wood of a whaling ship that wrecked itself on the coast there in 1867.

    NB: you must drop them in conversation before the end of the week (last week), after which you should always say: 'oh, those guys. Yeah, they're pretty good, but if you like that, you should really check out Archmythalryic Dythyrambs, they're kinda similar but with more of a nod to some of the black psyche stuff that was coming out of Birmingham in the late 70s - their last EP, which was produced as a shellac 78 before being re-transferred to digital, was only available on the 366th day of the last leap year (but you can jack it off BitTorrent if you're on a private tracker)...


  5. i only buy tapes.
    from men i don't know at bus stops.
    wearing the shoes of a man who died by his own had.

  6. what exactly is PC implying here in regards to the other comments? i mean, aside from expressing his supreme douchebag-ness...

  7. His superiority of course, all trussed up and tossed out as the lowest form of wit.

  8. If you like that kind of stuff, you should listen to Autre Ne Veut. I swear, it's equally awesome.

  9. Check out the Forest Swords side-project Saligaud. It's a little darker, murkier, and menacing. They use some nice 4/4 beats though, as opposed to Forest Swords tribalism.

  10. Thanks for the tip on this -- really feeling the record. Downloaded from eMusic and ordered vinyl from Boomkat.

    Re: the nomenclature issue, I'll admit that I've referenced witch house in a slightly snarky/critical way, but I think it's ultimately not worth getting up in arms about; subgenre names are just one of the ways we make sense of music, especially in an instant-meme culture. And when artists deliberately make use of said memes ("Forest Swords," as a name, isn't exactly trying to distance itself from the currently on-trend occult/animist/mystic phenomenon), I think they bear some responsibility for advancing a discourse that might distract from the actual music.

    But this is really good, anyway.

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Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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