Intense, impassioned, and overwhelmingly vulnerable, Black Grapefruit’s immersive ‘Fade/Forget’ EP explores the power of memory, the pain of loss, and the healing process.
And we got high
like a mountain top
and we got by
thinking time wouldn’t stop
thinking light wouldn’t fade.
– “Fade,” Black Grapefruit
It doesn’t matter exactly who or what they lost; Black Grapefruit have been dwelling in some deep heartaches recently, letting that pain pour forth in their mesmerizing music. “No matter what you do (get high, drink, etc.), you’re still going to have moments when the memory of someone won’t go away,” the experimental alt-pop/R&B duo recently observed. Despite some folks’ best efforts, there’s no running from the truth; there’s no hiding from the past or forgetting reality. Loss stings, and one way or another we must eventually submit ourselves to its wrath – if only so that we may move forward and live again.
Clocking in at a fierce 17 minutes, Black Grapefruit’s immersive Fade/Forget EP explores the power of memory, the pain of loss, and the healing process.
Released June 28, Black Grapefruit’s Fade/Forget EP finds the prolific duo of Randa Smith and Brian Dekker returning just a year after releasing their critically acclaimed sophomore album All My Relations. In premiering the album’s single “End” last year, we praised the song’s “warm wash of wistful affection and electronic R&B emotion,” describing Black Grapefruit as “the musical manifestation of introspection and intimacy; of blackness and femininity; of heritage and identity.” These qualities remain true of Smith and Dekker’s project a year later; if anything, their musical signature is further enhanced by their new record’s brevity and conciseness.
Propulsive rhythms and an entrancing soundscape help Fade/Forget wrap itself around listeners. The 36-second “Fade” sets a heavy scene with its cool melodic bursts and vocal flourishes, all of which literally fade in and out. Despite the rapid change in cabin pressure, the pair’s words ring out against a barren backdrop: “I gave my love; you too my energy.” Immediately, we are brought into the folds of pain, romance, and nostalgia: “And we got high like a mountain top and we got by thinking time wouldn’t stop; thinking light wouldn’t fade.“
By the time the weight of “Forget” presses its full self onto us, we’re already entrenched in emotional weeds. Maintaining that theme of memory, “Forget” battles the inclination to disperse of the past – but there’s no throwing away that which you cannot lose; that which is an incontrovertible part of our being: The past. Massive beats reminiscent of Glass Animals‘ debut ZABA engulf the senses as Randa Smith’s voice rings out clear above fuzz and clouds:
Thought you would fall
thought you would love me.
Now that you’re gone
I can’t get high enough
to forget you.
The music is controlled, but Black Grapefruit’s performance is unforgettably raw: Every instrument is drenched in emotion, the melodies perfectly complementing the charged rhythms at their side. These qualities – of being raw, emotional, and charged – continue to characterize Fade/Forget throughout its quick, yet intense runtime: “Quartz” infuses some modern hip-hop elements into the R&B/pop reverie, and “Crypt Keeper” with Ambient Jones takes a step back, slowing down to let its freer, flowing sonics breathe. The minute-long interlude “Gospels” (also featuring Ambient Jones) is a dense swell of ambience that at times feels like a chorus of cries, and at times serves to soothe and energize. Once it subsides into the passionate “0122,” Black Grapefruit let loose a powerful indie rock anthem – or rather, a rock-influenced anthem delivered through their own defining sound and style.
No matter where one chooses to bury their head in Fade/Forget, one cannot help but feel the overwhelming weight of Black Grapefruit’s emotional vulnerability. They open their souls through indelibly modern sounds, exploring the universal theme of heartache in a classic, yet nevertheless thrilling fashion. While songs like “Forget,” “Quartz,” and “Crypt Keeper” stand out for their intense, impassioned musicality, Fade/Forget is best experienced as one long and moving experience.
Whether you’re currently heartbroken, full of love, or someplace in-between, Black Grapefruit have delivered a musical slice of life that we can easily relate to and find comfort in. As the pair themselves note, “We should be very proud of ourselves for finding the strength to open up again.”
I wonder why you get to me
when the others don’t.
I wonder what you’re doing now
what you’ve done this week.
I wonder if you still sleep like a beast
and when you finally do,
you still grind your teeth?
– “In Case You’re Listening,” Black Grapefruit
Despite the fact that Fade/Forget ends on something of a cliffhanger conclusion on “In Case You’re Listening,” taken as a whole Fade/Forget offers something of an homage to memory and the feelings of the heart. We may never fully lose what we once felt or what we once held so dear, but we can certainly find ways of moving on with time’s passage, as our journeys continue to introduce us to new places and different faces.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Black Grapefruit’s Fade/Forget EP with Atwood Magazine as the duo go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their latest release!
Stream: ‘Fade/Forget’ – Black Grapefruit
:: Inside Fade/Forget ::
This was originally the beginning of the next song (Forget) until Ambient Jones was like, “You guys have two songs here, they each make a point, let them each have a space on the album.” He was right, it hadn’t occurred to us before then that length of a song has more to do with how well it encapsulates an emotion, not how many seconds or minutes it is. We wanted Fade to feel like you were traveling dimensions back into a memory and we feel really great about how it came out.
This song started in such a different place from where it ended up! It was kind of a sad song at first but we began to realize that the story we were trying to tell didn’t start with sadness or pain. If Fade was falling back into a memory, then Forget needed to be a jolt into how the beginning of that memory felt, and this is it.
This is just the truth. We have Quartz stones and crystals all over the house. They’re in our studio and every full moon they get placed outside. Quartz are said to have protective and healing energy. We’re both familiar with loss and heartache, and sometimes instead of feeling the weight of a memory it’s easier just to get high or drunk. Other times we reach for crystals.
Slowly the mood of the album is changing here. We wanted those broken chords at the beginning to kind of signal that things are starting to unravel. Crypt Keeper kind of works as a response to Quartz, like no matter what you do (get high, drink, etc) you’re still going to have moments when the memory of someone won’t go away. It’s haunting, we really felt that was the best way to describe the feeling, hence the title.
Ok now we’re at the last moment of the hurt… This was a really trippy song to make. It started out as just an instrumental. The soundscapes where made with a ton of layers of room noise and reversed guitars. We literally just played the original loop on speakers and recorded it back in with microphones over and over in different ways so that it wouldn’t phase. And then at some point we just started yelling with Ambient Jones and that’s where the screams came from at the end. The poem, now that’s all Ambient Jones, he’s an absolute master at building soundscapes. He just recorded it in our studio one night while we were asleep and left the session on our desktop. It took a couple of months until we finally listened back and we were like, “Fuck that’s it, that’s the feeling, that’s it!!!”
We’re awake now, this is what matters. The trip down broken heart lane is done, we’ve landed and accepted things. We wanted this to be a love song that felt anthemic because sometimes healing from a broken heart feels like a fucking anthem. That shit is not easy and we should be very proud of ourselves for finding the strength to open up again.
In Case You’re Listening
Once you’ve really accepted things for what they are, it’s hard not to lovingly wonder how that other person is carrying on. Not out of pain, but out of genuine care for their happiness. Our dear friend and exceptional writer, Brandon Grundy, had the perfect words for this moment, so we begged him to recite them. This is such a special collaboration for us because we all bonded over poetry and music in college. Damn…. Writing about these songs has really brought us to realize how proud we are of this body of work…. like we don’t think we had connected all of these dots until now… wow, thank you for writing about us.
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