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Video of the Moment #2883: Amber Arcades

 
By on Friday, 10th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

I don’t know how on earth this happened, but I managed to miss not one, not two, but three of Dutch singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graaf’s (that’s Amber Arcades to you) song previews of her upcoming album. ‘European Heartbreak’, the follow-up to 2016 debut ‘Fading Lines’ (review here) will be out next month. I’m horribly late to the party, I know, but I hope my posting of the promo video for ‘Where Did You Go’ makes some amends. The video is quirky and stars both de Graaf and her amazingly wild-haired partner Edwin Louis, who as a pair decide to take to the wilderness and test their relationship. But not quite how you might expect. Watch the video below. Keep an eye and ear out for ‘European Heartbreak’, which drops on the 28th of September on Heavenly Recordings / PIAS. To catch all of our past writings on Amber Arcades right here on TGTF, follow us this way.

 

Album Review: Amber Arcades – Fading Lines

 
By on Thursday, 2nd June 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Amber Arcades Fading Light album coverAnnelotte de Graaf, better known under her stage name Amber Arcades, has led a pretty interesting life so far. I touched upon some of this in my Bands to Watch feature on her following her appearance at SXSW 2016. De Graaf’s serious endeavours are contrasted with the gentle nature of Amber Arcades’ music: De Graaf previously worked as a legal aide, and she is currently working in human rights law with people who have fled from Syria. On the musical front, the Dutch singer/songwriter decided that she would record her first album in New York, spending her life savings on a flight to the city where she would create ‘Fading Lines’. Shane Butler and Keven Lareau of Quilt and Jackson Pollis of Real Estate provide guitar, bass and drums respectively for the album, with Meg Duffy providing additional slide guitar on the track ‘Apophenia’.

De Graaf says she was inspired by “time, continuity, coincidence and magic”, and the album certainly encompasses this abstract range of influences. ‘Fading Lines’ is a shimmering, dreamy and stylistic collection of music,10 songs in length, and produced by Ben Greenberg at Strange Weather studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It’s full of hypnotic synth beats, dreamy vocals and twanging guitars. The album opens with the enigmatic ‘Come With Me’, a bright, dream-folk number that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The folksy feel runs throughout the LP, with blues and country influences appearing in varying degrees throughout, along with otherworldly synth sounds and steady drum rhythms. This combination comes together to create a collection of music that is modest, ethereal and captivating.

‘Right Now’ is a standout on the album. With its dreamy folk aura and rattling guitars, it’s easy to see why it was shared ahead of the album’s release. It’s the type of song that doesn’t sound like it’s fixed or limited to a particular time or place. As De Graaf sings “right now” over and over in the chorus, you can imagine it being relatable to anyone. As with ‘Fading Lines’, the guitars are a predominant feature here, as they crisply ring throughout the track, matching well with the unearthly melody of De Graaf’s voice. ‘Apophenia’ begins gently and simply, before introducing a country resonance in the form of the mournful rhythm of the slide guitar that picks up towards the end of the track. De Graaf’s vocals are paired with stripped back, ethereal sounds: it’s a subdued interlude after the enigmatic ‘Right Now’. Title track ‘Fading Lines’ begins with a bright jingle of guitars, met with a gentle drumbeat and De Graaf’s enticing vocals. The lyrics “I look around / nothing’s what it seems” speak of the slightly surreal nature of the track, which plays out like a whimsical dream full of spiralling guitars.

‘Turning Light’, the penultimate song, is the other of the two singles that were released ahead of the LP. The subdued drumbeat and ghostly sounds that fade in and out throughout the track form an enchanting and mysterious picture, but with lyrics that hint at a more serious theme: “we saw the ending / before it had arrived”. The album finishes up with ‘White Fuzz’, a haunting, crisp track with De Graaf’s vocals standing out against the music. It’s a tender end to the album, beginning with the lyrics ‘if only we could stay the same’, speaking to anyone that’s hesitantly undergone a life change.

‘Fading Lines’ is one of those albums to listen to during your downtime in the evenings while unwinding after a stressful day. It’s an evocative and wistful collection of bright tunes and softer moments and an altogether impressive debut from De Graaf.

8/10

‘Fading Lines’ is scheduled for release on the 3rd of June on Heavenly Recordings.The rest of the year will see De Graaf at a variety of festivals across Europe from Green Man in the Brecon Beacons in Wales to Amsterdam Woods Festival. For more on Amber Arcades on TGTF, go here.

 

Video of the Moment #2081: Amber Arcades

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Dutch singer/songwriter Amber Arcades (known to her family and friends as Annelotte de Graaf) seems to be celebrating her recent signing to Heavenly Records with a rather heavenly new promo video for ‘Fading Lines’, the title track from her upcoming debut LP which is due out on the 3rd of June. Our own Rebecca recently featured Amber Arcades in her Bands to Watch #387, which highlights two previously released tracks from the album.

The airy weightlessness of the eponymous ‘Fading Lines’, expressed sonically by lithe guitar riffs and de Graaf’s delicate vocals, is reflected in the video by aerial imagery of a skydiver in reverse–that is, starting from the ground and flying back upward into a plane. De Graaf explains the connection between her song and director Gover Meit’s visual representation as follows:

The song is loosely inspired by my grandfather’s death a while ago and the way he was able to accept everything his life had and hadn’t been. It’s about the feeling of being in an overwhelmed state, like you’ve been propelled free-fall into something you don’t understand for the most part, lines between memories and moments fading until it all turns into a gloriously incandescent blur. When Gover told me about his idea of recording a person dancing mid air, slowly falling up into the sky, I felt like this was the best possible way to translate this overwhelmed feeling into moving images. I never could’ve imagined it would turn out this beautiful though.

Watch skydiver Ruta Norvaisaite gracefully execute mid-air choreography by Sjaan Flikweert in the video for ‘Fading Lines’ just below.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #387: Amber Arcades

 
By on Wednesday, 13th April 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Dutch-born singer Annelotte de Graaf, who goes by the stage moniker Amber Arcades, has recently announced her signing to Heavenly Recordings. She has already revealed two singles, ‘Turning Light’ and ‘Right Now’, ahead of her debut album release. The unusual yet cohesive blend of shimmering folk and subtle synthpop is brought together on both singles, and both are a taste of the singer’s debut LP ‘Fading Lines’, which will be out in June. De Graaf’s unorthodox sound is only one aspect of her appeal: her non-music exploits are equally interesting. When she isn’t writing and recording music, De Graaf can be found pursuing humanitarian work, including working with the UN to aid people who have fled Syria. De Graaf began writing back in 2010 and released her first EP in 2012. For her debut LP, she teamed up with producer Ben Greenberg (who has worked with Brooklyn-based Beach Fossils and The Men, among other acts), flying out to New York last year to record with Greenberg in Brooklyn’s Strange Weather studio.

Amber Arcades’ sound is fresh and iridescent, with an elegant and unassuming style that has a lasting impact and will be stuck in your head long after you hear the tracks. While Amber Arcades is De Graaf’s alias as a solo artist, she recorded her debut with a band, comprising of Shane Butler and Keven Lareau of Quilt, and Jackson Pollis of Real Estate on guitar, bass and drums respectively. This collaboration, along with Greenberg’s production, has resulted in an ethereal and lofty couple of tracks, which have set a precedent for one highly anticipated LP.

Both previously unveiled songs ‘Turning Light’ and ‘Right Now’ are tantalising, pairing De Graaf’s gentle, dreamy vocals with hypnotising rhythms. Each track offers something different, yet taps into the unique signature sound that Amber Arcades embodies. ‘Turning Light’ is a mesmerising track, layered with a harmony of otherworldly sounds. The lyrics “when all is quiet / I’m inside turning light” show the simple yet introspective nature of the song. There’s a gentle, dreaminess to the track, which makes sense, considering it was dreamed up in the early hours of the morning. The steady thump of the drumbeat along with De Graaf’s serene voice creates a ghostliness amplified by the subtle synth static and trippy guitars that accompany it.

‘Right Now’ opens boldly with the crisp jangling of a guitar, which sounds at first like it might be better suited to a country number, or at the beginning of a Magnetic Fields song. The folky riff, playing off of the refined, ethereal nature of De Graaf’s vocals, as well as the steady beat of drums, all draw together to make something that sounds like it probably shouldn’t work but really does. The chorus is as catchy as it is poignant: there’s a beautiful simplicity to the song, sounding like it’s been forged out of pure sunlight. De Graaf has created a sound that is a mixture of subtle melancholy and glittering energy.

Amber Arcades’ debut album ‘Fading Lines’ is scheduled for release on Heavenly Recordings on the 3rd of June. She appeared at SXSW 2016 last month in Austin. She has a number of upcoming dates scheduled around the UK and Europe, including The Great Escape in Brighton, Green Man Festival in Wales, and Amsterdam Woods Festival.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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