Have you ever wondered what kind of music a war crime expert would make? No? Me neither. Wonder no more as Dutch multi-instrumentalist Annelotte de Graaf, a former legal aide for Syrian refugees, flew to New York to record under the moniker Amber Arcades. So what happens when you have a humanitarian singer-songwriter flanked by the likes of Shane Butler and Keven Lareau of Quilt and Real Estate drummer Jackson Pollis?
First and foremost, you get an album – a dreamy album. Opener ‘Come With Me’ kicks us off with glossy guitars driven by a motorik beat. It’s all rather kaleidoscopic and sounds like a soundtrack for that time Alice went down the rabbit hole. When you get to the other side, you’ll find a song about an artist’s plan for a utopian city in the form of ‘Constant’s Dream’. This is where you see the C86 influences become more prominent as Annelotte muses: “What do you want to see before you die?”
But then it changes direction again as the title track exudes a shoegaze vibe that has echoes of Deerhunter in the shimmering guitars. And after having these three tracks swirl around you with whimsical abandon, ‘I Will Follow’ cradles you in it arms and soars up in the clouds like a friendly Lakitu. While the tunes up to this point have been energetic, ‘I Will Follow’ has more maudlin sensibilities accentuated by Annelotte’s saccharine vocals. It’s not hard to imagine how comforting her voice would have been to distressed refugees.
There’s no doubt that this is an incredibly varied and dynamic album; it twists and turns at every opportunity but doesn’t leave you feeling nauseous. It’s a wistful experience with a galactic disposition and endless influences from Suicide to Yo La Tengo. But while some artists leave you in a single soundscape to explore, Fading Lines is a planet-hopping journey through the eyes of humanitarian who as clearly made many different friends and heard all kinds of stories.
One of the key features here is generosity. And I don’t mean that Annelotte’s altruism has necessary influenced her music or the lyrics. When Annelotte was living is Utrect, she’d often invite strangers to her home as a place to stay. This actually led to a friendship that connected her with Heavenly Recordings and thus this album could be produced. How strange life is eh?
*Plays ‘I Will Follow’ again*
Fading Lines was released on 3rd June via Heavenly Recordings