Forest Swords – Fjree Feather EP (No Pain In Pop)
by Leah Sottile
An electronic album so thought-through, so diverse, so expressive and so unique — one like Forest Swords’ 2010 debut, Dagger Paths — can be worrisome. It makes an old bag critic wonder when said artist will cave to trends. When they’ll insert dubstep. When they’ll collab with a ‘name’. When their songs will start popping up in commercials, branding images to the music that were so different than the ones in your head.
And then when they don’t — when that band, instead, channels its energy into something just as interesting, like Forest Swords’ newly-released Fjree Feather EP — you’re kind of left with your ass in your hands, wondering why you have to always be such a jaded dick?
The sleepy-electronic Brit that is Forest Swords advances the conversation he started with Dagger Paths here with his Fjree Feather. It’s an album that delves deeper in certain areas than before: backing some songs with an even more pronounced tribal drumming sound (fans of Dagger Paths’ ‘Hoylake Mist’ will enjoy ‘Bones’) than on the first record. And across the record, Forest Swords continues to allow songs to sound even further in the distance — like they’re being played just slightly out of earshot — than before. And that, perhaps, is what makes Forest Swords so compelling. He’s covert and understated in his approach. On neither record will you see this artist make big, bold, brash statements. They are subtle, few with few swelling crescendos and dramatic breakdowns. And though there’s nothing wrong with getting a little carnal satisfaction — feeling the hair raise on the back of your neck — from good music, Forest Swords tries more to blanket the listener in an alter-atmosphere from start to finish. It is music that envelops you, asking for every bit of you to pay attention.
Fjree Feathers is a companion piece to that first record, purveying a similar dark, gauzy aesthetic. And though it’s not dramatically different — fans will rejoice — it is still a toothsome entrée onto this artist’s path. And it’s not a well-worn one either: between the two albums, we’ve only heard a dozen Forest Sword songs. Which, yes, leaves time to be worried about the future (i.e. unnecessary collaborations, selling to commercials, sucking, etc) but also optimism about the slow-but-sure pace Forest Swords is taking to make music. You can feel that care and time spent on each of the songs, as if each part were picked up with tweezers and set into the perfect place. I just hope that this promising artist takes his career the exact same way. Slow, steady and methodical.