Hercules and Love Affair In Amber BMG
As Hercules and Love Affair, Andy Butler is best known for his soaring, saucy dancefloor anthems. But on his fifth studio album In Amber, Butler lays his heart on the table as he explores a new sound – one that’s more rock than disco, more arresting than liberating, and one that puts storytelling front and centre.
The album is tethered to religious iconography and narratives as Butler deals with forgiveness, mortality and a sense of reckoning. Stripped of bouncy basslines and catchy hooks, the rock and experimental electronic instrumentation can be deeply moving, like on The Eyes of the Father. Here, fingerpicked guitar lines are layered over a mournful string section and a rumbling of timpani and cymbals. The arrangement is humble, pastoral, folksy even, but an occasional searing hiss of interference draws attention to the confrontation running through the album as Butler sings, “When you meet your maker/ Will you show your face?”
On In Amber, Butler is joined by a cast of guest vocalists. Most notably ANOHNI, who joins the project for the first time since their breakthrough collaboration Blind in 2008. On Christian Prayers her unmistakable voice roars, ripping above the heavy metal guitars. She lends a vulnerability to Poisonous Storytelling, simmering alongside an unrepentant drum pattern from Budgie, famously the drummer in Siouxsie and the Banshees.
On In Amber, Butler ventures into new emotional landscapes with passion and an open heart. At times, these feelings are left unanswered, or incomplete; in an album rich with stories, the ending is still unclear.