Compassion By Forest Swords – A Sweetly Disturbing Electronics

An intense electronic experience, which brings to mind both Moby and Jóhann Jóhannsson.

I have stumbled upon Forest Swords (which is a one-man project of a musician Matthew Barnes) by accident, while looking for some background music at work. As usual, Spotify suggested some neat tracks. “The Highest Flood” – track number two on “Compassion” – would pass by as a bunch before, but once I heard the “carved up” choir that emerged from the heavy bass and electronic beats, I was enchanted.

The more songs I discovered, the more captivated I felt. I have immediately fallen in love with the overwhelming unease, that resonated stronger and stronger as the whole album unfolded. Forest Swords mixed over-tuned, impure sounds with delicacy of a sax, as well as vocalizing, giving this ambient music a very distinctive character. I loved the ominous atmosphere of the track called “Border Margin Barrier” (which followed “The Highest Flood” in my listening order) and from that point I knew that “Compassion” deserved to be shared.


Although most of the tracks share the same unrest, Forest Swords is far from being monotonous. In “Arms Up”, the melody stretches out from a downtempo/ambient to an uplifting and even a bit pompous feeling that could fit Moby. On the other hand, my personal favorite – “Sjurvival” – is imbued with a Jóhann Jóhannsson’s influence and a creepy, echoing humming that strongly reminded me of the soundtrack in “Sicario”.

At the same time, Forest Swords can serve a pretty dope beat that could fit into a darker lyrical rap – “Vandalism” is a great example for that. Among other inspirations, the album echoed works of Massive Attack, Radiohead and Bonobo too – quite an array, isn’t it?


“Compassion” is a great example that ambient music can have a beautiful range of colors. It’s eerie, it’s dark, but it never gets boring. Forest Swords stroke gold with this album and I am looking forward to his next undertaking.

Listen to the full album on Spotify!

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