with Forest Swords, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma & presented by PopGun
Wed March 26th, 2014
Minimum Age: 21+
Doors Open: 10:00PM
Show Time: 10:00PM
Event Ticket: $15
Day of Show: $17
This is a general admission, standing event.
How to Dress Well
How To Dress Well is the stage name of songwriter and producer Tom Krell. Krell’s burgeoning career began in 2009 when, having just moved from Brooklyn to Berlin, his songs began to emerge online via a hugely prolific string of free, digital EPs posted in anonymity on his blog. Combining a gorgeous falsetto with fractured R&B-influenced beats, an instinctive ear for subtly devastating melody and elements of noise, sound collage and avant-garde composition, Krell’s debut album Love Remains offered a beautiful window into a startlingly realized artistic imagination. Praised for both its conceptual strength and immediate emotional resonance, Love Remains duly garnered vast critical acclaim and highlights such as “Ready For The World” saw Krell accredited with having given birth to a new, narcotized strain of R&B that has since spawned a host of imitators. Now, come September 17th, we will see him pull back the curtain on a whole new body of work with his new album Total Loss, released on Weird World/ Domino.
Recorded over a span of 15 months in Brooklyn, Chicago, Nashville and London, Krell says that period of time was a long year that he spent “very unhappy and confused. I found myself feeling stranded, alone and depraved, and generally run the fuck down…while writing these songs I was trying to learn to lose in a meaningful way and to sustain loss as a source of creative energy”. Ergo, where Love Remains was a study of love in its darkest hour, Total Loss is an attempt to find one’s way out of darkness, even when there seems to be no light ahead. Co-produced by Rodaidh McDonald (the XX, King Krule), the album touches on many of the same sounds as Love Remains but incorporates a range of other influences and showcases Krell’s evolution as an artist. The increased fidelity of these recordings also highlights Krell’s arrangements and graceful voice in ways Love Remains had only hinted at.
All the elements of Love Remains that enraptured are still present here – the noisiness, the moodiness, the layers of swarming voices – but stand alongside other complex elements: the elegant weeping arcos and pizzicatos of neo-classical music, the rude drums of trap-rap, and the sweet, special and sentimental moments of Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope are all swept up and embraced in the deep beauty of Total Loss. So the fractured hip-hop beats of “How Many?” sit alongside the cinematic strings of “World I Need You, Won’t Be Without You (Proem)”, and the deeply affecting “Talking To You” (in which Krell executes a duet, of sorts, with himself) precedes the transcendent sweep of “Set it Right”, before the glacial beauty of “Ocean Floor For Everything” brings everything to a quietly devastating close.
Krell states that Total Loss is “an opening-up”, describing it as an “album about sharing.” So, where Love Remains was an expression of intense and maybe isolating intimacy with pain, Total Loss is about the rare sharing that can go on between people that pierces through the undeniable, sometimes unshakable struggle and pain of life. As Krell himself says, “I’m trying to use this sharing to orient my life— call it true hope, or love.”
How To Dress Well official site
How To Dress Well on Soundcloud
How To Dress Well on Facebook
The project of the Merseyside, UK native Matthew Barnes, Forest Swords crept into the underground consciousness in 2009 with the release of acclaimed EP ‘Dagger Paths’ (Olde English Spelling Bee/No Pain In Pop) – a record so eerie and expansive that it touched on both Ennio Morricone and early Massive Attack, while still sounding resolutely unique. The release received critical acclaim, and – despite being just EP length – charted in Pitchfork’s Top 50 records of the year, and as FACT’s #1 album.
Subsequently battling hearing problems, Barnes was forced to take a break from his own music, returning to his work as a designer and artist. In the ensuing period, he completed sound commissions for art festivals (including a piece involving tracks cut on disintegrating x-ray film dubplates; new Forest Swords compositions heard in public just once); lent his skills to other artists, including co-writing and production for How To Dress Well (‘Cold Nites’, from his recent album ‘Total Loss’) and NYC rap youngster Haleek Maul; and released tracks made with German fine artist Otto Baerst online under the Dyymond of Durham moniker.
Slowly but surely, Barnes started work back on his Forest Swords project with a clear vision and renewed passion. Unwilling to spend long amounts of time in a studio, he looked around his own environment for inspiration.
Debut album ‘Engravings’ is the sound of his home peninsula of the Wirral, a stone’s throw from Liverpool, a place imbued with spirit and history (‘Thor’s Stone’ takes its title from a local slab of sandstone, said to be used for Norse god sacrifices by Viking settlers). Completed over the course of the year, Barnes mixed the entire record outdoors in the Wirral countryside on his laptop: as such, ‘Engravings’ is a record that feels as exposed and organic as his immediate environment; beaches and bark, sand and soil.
The resulting record is a rarity in electronic music – an emotionally resonant distillation of the past couple of years in Barnes’ life, and an unflinchingly powerful body of songs: both euphoric and bleak, triumphant and heavy. Taking off where his previous work started, ‘Engravings’ feels more articulate, structured, and affecting. Beats are more pronounced, with the looser tribalism of ‘Dagger Paths’ replaced with a more direct approach to rhythm. Voices are also more prominent. Barnes spent time learning to splice his own and sampled voices together to create abstracted, elliptical melody lines, and rough snatches of ecstatic choirs interject throughout the LP, calling out in either desperation or elation.
From the train-track rattling drones of ‘Onward’ to euphoric marching-drum closer ‘Friend, You Will Never Learn’, the record steps its way between cavernous electronic music and dubby, heavy slow-mo pop. Lead track ‘The Weight of Gold’ is an urgent, melancholy meditation centered around razor-sharp harpsichord, tranced-out vocals and chiming guitar; ‘Anneka’s Battle’ features a guest vocal from Brighton act Anneka manipulated around a sparse, skeletal R&B beat; while ‘Gathering’ sees Barnes weave and loop choral voice samples to create a rapturous, hypnotic hymn.
Released by vanguard New York electronic label Tri Angle (Haxan Cloak, Evian Christ, Holy Other), ‘Engravings’ is a long-awaited second glimpse at Forest Swords’ singular, distinct musical explorations, and sounds like a vision finally realized.
Forest Swords on Twitter
Forest Swords on Soundcloud
Forest Swords official site