Seth Frightening – Don’t You Worry (Heat Death)
Review by Nich Cunningham for Under the Radar
“…Don’t You Worry (Heat Death) conveys a sense of openness and honesty while drawing on an eclectic palette to deliver a work of compelling emotion and intriguing ingenuity…”
Away from the structural elements, music is ultimately an emotional language; the primary emotion conveyed mostly dictates the shape a style or genre takes. Of late, and especially locally, folk-tinged music has tended towards an earnest delivery. The downside is that, at times, this can feel contrived and over-wrought and consequently off-putting to some. Fortunately, Seth Frightening has adroitly appropriated some of folk’s finer tropes whilst side-stepping this potential pitfall with an approach that seems to disregard many genre restrictions and conventions. His new album Don’t You Worry (Heat Death) conveys a sense of openness and honesty while drawing on an eclectic palette to deliver a work of compelling emotion and intriguing ingenuity.
Frightening’s work would not seem entirely out of place on an Xpressway compilation. While utilizing fairly typical folk musical devices such as massed vocals and Americana stringed instruments, his music is often underpinned with tape manipulations and noise beds. The album is a constant exploration of timbre and ornamentation. Describing it as Smog meets God Speed! You Black Emperor would form a useful frame of reference best exemplified by the track ‘Through the River to the Sea’. Equally, there are gentler, more sparse and beautiful songs such as ‘Rebirth’ that invoke Nick Drake in a contemporary sense.
Through out the course of the record, the music maintains a freshness that sets it apart from other genre-orientated artists that litter the musical landscape. The lush depth to the sound is warm and inviting while the songwriting is varied and exciting. Although melancholic , Frightening is not heavy-handed or brow-beating. The listener is invited to participate but never put upon or bullied into feeling some cloying disingenuous sensation.
Don’t You Worry (Heat Death) is an accomplished work, masterfully presented in a deep and dense setting. It seems free of commercial concerns which liberates the music to do what music does best: convey a sense or emotion that is worth experiencing. From a purist’s point of view this is not an everyday occurrence and for the listener, those who appreciate music for music’s sake, it is not an opportunity to be missed.