Annelotte de Graaf (Amber Arcades)
If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Turning Light” by Amber Arcades (2016, from a forthcoming album, title and release date unknown).
Amber Arcades is a dream-folk/ folk-gaze recording project of Annelotte de Graaf,who is based in Utrecht, Netherlands. The Dutchwoman was in a Philadelphia-based bluegrass band back in 2010, and was also in a Dutch folk band called Oh, Brave Wilde Eyes. In 2013, de Graaf released the Amber Arcades EP, and late last year, she released another called Patiently. The latter of those EPs has five songs of fantastic indie-folk stuff. It’s easy to say that it’s reminiscent of Angel Olsen, which means that I like it very much. If I understand things correctly, the five songs from that EP will also appear on the new album, but they’ll sound very different. The new album explores different stuff like krautrock, shoegaze, and dream pop. Lots of effects, and lots of layers.
de Graaf flew to New York last autumn to record the songs for the new album, and many of them went through transformations by the end of it. While some of the songs were written years ago, it’s my understanding that tonight’s song was written on the spot. In the studio. In an hour. She was jet lagged and sleep-deprived, and kept showing up to the studio really early in the morning. One morning, she found her studio bassist Keven Lareau (out of the Boston psych/indie rock band Quilt) working on a motorik-style bass line. She had been working on a melody that worked well with what he was doing, and the song was born. She says they wrote it in an hour and recorded it in an hour. She wrote the lyrics the next day, and recorded those quickly as well.
This is that song.
“Turning Light” by Amber Arcades
There’s a lot for me to like here. Indeed, there’s that motorik bass. Shane Butler (also out of Quilt) plays the guitar here, and I don’t know if that’s just a ton of tremolo, or if there’s a bunch of other effects, or if there’s also some vintage organs in the mix, but there’s some crazy effects that I like a lot. The studio band is rounded out by drummer Jackson Pollis (out of Real Estate).
I just learned about Amber Arcades a couple of weeks ago through a mail bag submission, and I love everything that I’ve heard. I don’t know much about her, but just about everyone who writes anything about Amber Arcades mentions that de Graaf’s voice is somewhat reminiscent of the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast. Pay special attention to the section that starts at 2:15. She’s doing something that reminds me a lot of Keenan. Not a specific Broadcast song, but just Keenan in general.
The album will be released via Heavenly Recordings sometime in the spring. At this point, they haven’t even announced the title of the album, let alone the specific release date. They keep saying that album details will be coming soon, and I’m waiting with bated breath.
If the two songs that I’ve heard are any indication, and if it’s true that there will be bigger versions of the Patiently songs, I’m going to love this album. It should do very well in my year-end list. Probably in the top 15. It’s pretty early to be talking about these kinds of things, but I’m pretty confident about this. For the record, I’ve already got one album penciled into my year-end top three despite the fact that it isn’t out yet and I haven’t even heard the whole thing. This is something that I do.
As we patiently wait for the album, you can grab a “name your price” download of the Patiently EP (see what I did there?) here.