Review Summary: A fantastic sophomore album that continues to make the second half of 2023 an interesting one for music.
There’s something very captivating about Útiseta
. I’ve listened to bands like Agalloch and Ulver for a lot of years now, that, while not quite the same as Thurnin’s new record, the aforementioned bands all capture the same sort of vibe – a distinct essence that surrounds them all uniformly despite varying distinctions, but I digress. In maybe the last half-decade or so, I’ve fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole and taken a keen interest in a lot of folk music, namely atmospheric/dark folk and things of this ilk, stuff that utilises this kind of neo-medieval European flavour. What I’ve been able to deduce from this style of music as a whole, and what I find so appealing about it, is that it gets so much mileage out of using so little, and it really makes you understand just how powerful acoustic instrumentation can be. Indeed, I haven’t come across a bad album yet during my travels, but I have to give Útiseta
its dues; this thing goes the distance creating its own rich, inimitable world for you to fall into. I found the whole album utterly engrossing from start to finish – vibrant, intricate compositions that keep you gripped the whole way through. Jurre Timmer, the project’s mastermind, is exceptional at creating peaks and troughs with tangible staying power. Útiseta
centres its sound around multi-layered acoustic guitar passages that harmonise and interweave in really engaging ways, with proficient guitar playing so cathartic, that alone would have sufficed. However, the supporting cast makes this record all the more memorable, serving up a plethora of wind instruments, light percussion, string arrangements, and a tasteful element of vocals to elevate the compositions where needed.
I can’t emphasise enough just how well-crafted Útiseta
’s songs are. The pacing for each one of these pieces is incredible, and it was only after listening to the album two or three times that I decided to look at its run time, which, shockingly, sits at a hair shy of sixty minutes. There was never a moment where I felt bored, or even a point where I felt any of the songs dragging their heels. Every track has engaging, beautifully poignant melodies, emotionally moving solos with credence, and some enormous crescendos to top it all off. The production in particular is exceptional and does a stellar job of balancing all of these hues and textures; and the furtive effects that delicately glaze over the vocals and instrumentals in parts adds a mystical element to the album’s overarching aesthetics. It’s all clearly thought out with punctilious detail. There’s a surprising amount of stuff going on in each track yet, it’s still presented modestly and – despite some of the lengthy run times – succinctly. It’s hard to really pick a favourite track on here, because it all feels like one cohesive whole, but “The Seeress” feels like a track with tangible significance – like the album has built up and correlated its elements to get to this point. It’s a track with grand female-led vocals with a hypnotic melancholy, thudding percussion and some intense, downcast string arrangements that let the track explode for its final moments.
Overall, the backend of 2023 is starting to ramp up with some genuinely excellent albums. Útiseta
will make a fine addition to my autumnal playlist, and it’s hard to argue with this ranking high on my year-end list. If you’re a fan of folk music, it goes without saying you should check this out. It’s brimming with energy and captures nature’s essence perfectly. The artwork to this album is also stunning, and bolsters the pungent, colourful writing contained within Útiseta
. I’d never heard of this Dutch wizard until only recently, but Jurre is certainly on to something with Thurnin, and I look forward to seeing where his creative journey takes him going forward, because this album really delivers.