The name “Fripp” is taken from Caroline Fripp, who, legend says, haunts Hilton Head’s Rear Range Lighthouse. The name is fitting, as the refreshingly sparse instrumentation throughout this EP feels — in one word — ethereal. E.B. Hinnant, the artist behind Fripp, wrote and composed the songs on Body Work over several years between Brooklyn, NY (where he spends most of his time) and his hometown of Fort Mill, SC.
“Orion” opens with a spacey synth wash leading into light and wistful vocals, which makes sense for a song named after a constellation. This song introduces us to what we’ll come to know as Hinnant’s specialty: complex vocal melodies. His voice dances around the sparse instrumental in a way that seems almost playful. The tempo of the song is not kept by a beat, but by a voice.
As the first track fades, more synth appears in tack two. This time, it’s swelling and flowing. There is still no percussion, but rhythm is felt more than before. “Honey” builds into a chorus with a gripping vocal arrangement, comparing love to honey that can last thousands of years and still not decay. This song feels like an emotional anchor in the EP.
“Me & the Sea” comes next, breathing itself into existence. The arpeggios keep time, with still no percussion of any sort to be found. This short song comes from a moment when Hinnant thought he might be asexual. The songs of Body Work all heavily revolve around LGBTQIA+ themes, and it’s not often that you hear a sea shanty about asexuality. The way the synth and sax work together in the second half of this track is gorgeous.
The title track “Body Work” is where percussion is finally found. A rolling, muffled kick brings us into the song, in which Hinnant starts singing about messy surgical procedures. Hinnant says this song is taken from a “particularly dark moment” in his early adolescence when he had fantasies about cutting his own genitals off. “I’m very grateful I never followed through with those fantasies, but these memories have really stuck with me as I’ve struggled with my sexuality over the years.” After the first chorus, sax comes in, adding another layer to the sparing composition. From here, the song builds up to a fantastic chorus with a hectic yet sharp wind arrangement.
“Cypress” introduces itself with what sounds like pure low country ambiance. After the climax of “Body Work”, this song feels like an epilogue. It’s short, sweet, and evokes some of the haunting natural beauty of Hinnant’s home state of South Carolina. The instrumental, as with most of the songs on this project, is light and understated, which is yet another of Hinnant’s strengths.
Fripp, with a name taken from a ghost story, created a haunting, beautiful EP full of authenticity. Inspired by Au Revoir Simone, Mountain Man, and Philip Glass, Hinnant made an art pop project that feels organic and rewards multiple listens, growing on me more each time I put it on. This deeply personal and intimate debut project from Fripp presents him as an artist that everyone should be watching.