Rapid Fire Reviews: Brownswood Electric & Forest Swords

Various Artists – Brownswood Electric
Brownswood Recordings: 2010

Those in the know are already aware of how much solid music has been coming from British label Brownswood Recordings. But even with that knowledge, it’s likely many of the artists filling the imprint’s latest compilation, the dubstep/lo-fi-hip-hop extravaganza Brownswood Electric, will be new to you. So while some might gravitate immediately to the standout tracks from Shlohmo (“Antigravity (Low Limit Remix)”), devonwho (“Whispers”), and Mount Kimbie (“Serged”), there is plenty else here worth exploring. The soulful sample-based groove of Letherette’s “Blad”, for example, is simply excellent. And Rockwell’s erratic drums and sweeping synths on “Underpass” make for one of hell of a track. Unfortunately, though, the compilation does hit some bumps as certain cuts, particularly those drenched in dubstep repetition like Pearson Sound’s “Wad”, get lost in a sea of simplistic patterns.  – Andrew Martin

3 out of 5
[audio:http://potholesinmyblog.flywheelsites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/07-Blad-MSTR.mp3|titles=Letherette – Blad]

Forest Swords – Dagger Paths
Olde English Spelling Bee: 2010

Take the stately, anguished soundscapes of an early ‘80s Cure or late period Joy Division, cross them with the bottom heavy, beat driven dynamics of trip hop, and let them marinate in the cavernous, spacey mystique of dub and you’ll get Forest Swords, the solo projects of English producer Matthew Barnes (no Lakers). Droning guitars, massive tribal drums, and diced up vocals abound on Dagger Paths, Barnes’s first release for Olde English Spelling Bee. Highlights include the concise, forlorn “Visits” and his deconstruction of Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew”, which touts a hefty chunk of bass, shimmering guitar, Barnes’s spectral vocals and vast stretches of empty space. Dagger Paths crawls by at a snail’s pace, but none of its 35 minutes ever feels like anything less than a dream. – Craig Jenkins

4 out of 5

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