Forest Swords – ‘Engravings’

Be warned – this sword will leave an indelible mark

2013 is shaping up to be a vintage year for the kind of electronic music Björk would relax to in the bath. She’d love Fuck Buttons’ kraut-industrial blizzards. She’d adore Jon Hopkins.

And she’d certainly enjoy Forest Swords – who, for his debut LP, has given himself the task of exploring his Wirral hometown’s Norse roots. The result is a set of remarkable electronic rituals with an endearing, mystical quality. On ‘Ljoss’ (“light” in Old Norse), the fizzing synths are like frantic ice etchings. In places, it’s actually quite sexy. ‘Thor’s Stone’ takes its title from a nearby sacrificial rock, yet its reedy melody is pretty seductive, as if a lady Viking was sending out a booty call through her bukkehorn.

Elsewhere, cinematic trip-hop makes nice with bleak R&B on the Massive Attack-indebted ‘Irby Tremor’, a song that conjures a peculiar intensity with its twangy Ennio Morricone guitar and crackling strings; and on drum-heavy folk song ‘Anneka’s Battle’, which features Karen O’s new favourite vocalist, Anneka. Be warned – this sword will leave an indelible mark.

Kate Hutchinson