Forest Swords: Thor’s Stone

An Intense Metamorphosis Marks the British Producer’s Latest Bass-Heavy Effort

“There was a moment around 3am when I felt a pure sense of all the elements coming together perfectly,” recalls Dave Ma of shooting the video to Forest Swords’ atmospheric track, “Thor’s Stone.” Filmed overnight in the industrial outskirts of downtown Los Angeles, the promo stars Madrid dancer Guzman Rosado. “I made him dance repeatedly for about eight hours through the night,” says Ma. “There was no one for miles around, just Forest Swords echoing out of a boom box.” The director has made videos for Foals and The Horrors, and his effort for Australian electro duo Flight Facilities’ “Claire de Lune” was shortlisted for the NOWNESS and Le Book’s CONNECTIONS showcase in Paris earlier this year. Today’s collaboration was born after Ma approached the man behind Forest Swords, Matthew Barnes, to describe the vision of a figure coming to life and struggling to gain control over his body that the music inspired in him. The dark and sensuous result marks an incredible few months for the Northwest England-based solo artist, following the widespread acclaim that has garlanded his second album Engravings, recorded over 18 painstaking months. “I’m a perfectionist,” says Barnes of the process. “I spend a long time working on one sound or texture to make sure it's exactly how I want it. It’s like tweaking a key in a door, and then suddenly it unlocks.”

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Conversations (2)

  • Zuzicka
    Absolutely. Astonishing.
    so. good. poignant, pained and just physically gorgeous to watch - also, Larkin DP'd this, F*CK YEAH EMERSON

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    Up and Out

    A Surreal Take on the Age-Old Dilemma of What to Wear

    Model Molly Smith finds herself trapped in a never-ending outfit change, wrapped up in various pieces from Miu Miu, Meadham Kirchoff and Alexander McQueen in today’s kinetic fashion film shot by Joshua Stocker and styled by NOWNESS regular, Agata Belcen. “I wanted to create a film that felt seamless, without the cuts interfering with the experience,” explains Stocker of his first fashion film, set to music by London-based indie pop act, Scanners. “Collaborating with a stylist, we worked out how each piece integrated into the narrative, whether it is a dress that falls to the floor, or a skirt which is pulled up to reveal a new outfit.” The award-winning director is a graduate from London’s Chelsea College of Art & Design and is noted for his visual effects-laden work, including music promos for Skream and Gem Club, alongside a 3D data art film with Google Creative Lab’s Aaron Koblin. 

    Additional credits: Makeup by Celia Burton at CLM. Hair by Yoshitaka Miyazaki at Untitled Artists London.

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    Goldfrapp: Annabel

    The Brooding Pop Outsiders Return with a Cinematic Music Video Premiere

    A young, androgynous boy explores his femininity through a hoard of trinkets hidden in the undergrowth in the accompanying video to “Annabel,” a brand new track from Goldfrapp. For their sixth album Tales Of Us, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have stepped back from the electronic synth pop with which they made their name. “I like electronic sounds because of the iciness, but I find them quite awkward,” says Goldfrapp. “Acoustic instruments have a warmth and sensuality about them.” Each song on Tales Of Us is named after a different person and the album sees Goldfrapp's voice—at one moment rich, the next fragile—paired with understated guitar and strings. The intended effect is to allow the characters and narratives to breathe, which is most eloquently achieved in “Annabel,” inspired by Kathleen Winter's 2010 novel of the same name which follows a hermaphrodite child who is forced into taking on a male identity in 1960s Canada. Today’s short film was shot by Alison Goldfrapp’s partner Lisa Gunning, who worked as Editor on Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Nowhere Boy and here transposes the “endless winters” of the song’s lyrics to a warm English summer. To accentuate the film's narrative, the actual music itself doesn’t appear until just shy of the three-minute mark, a defiant move in an age of fast-cuts intended to grab attention on YouTube. “I don't really like the whole idea of videos,” says the singer. "Even though I know I've done bloody loads of them, haven’t I?"

    So why the decision to make these short films?
    Alison Goldfrapp:
    I think the whole idea of the video has changed—what it does, what it’s for—and that’s been great because it’s opened things up. Lisa knows my aesthetic and I trust her. It’s the first time I feel that we’ve made something that really complements the music—I don’t think I’ve really felt like that before about video.

    How does the film relate to both the song “Annabel” and the book that inspired it?
    I read Annabel and was totally drawn into that world, and immediately wrote the song. It’s very much about my interpretation of the book. If anyone hears that song they’ll just think it’s about a girl, they won't know what it is about, so I was very intent on making the film. The boy is amazing, he’s got a stillness and a melancholy to his face, and an introverted quality about him.

    Are the themes explored in “Annabel” present in the rest of the album?
    It’s very much about memory, identity and gender. I’ve always been fascinated by dual creatures, personas, people, personalities, and transformation. I think it’s a theme that’s pretty much always in fairy tales and horror, which I love. What struck me about Annabel is that the parents are in total denial of what their child is: this child has to choose in the end, and that’s what society is making them do. Why can't you be both? I feel really strongly about that whole concept in so many things in life. All the characters in these songs are trying to figure out who they are, where they're going, and why they are who they are.

    Tales of Us is out September 9 on Mute.

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