6 Songs, 21 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor take another break from their reputable solo careers, and their voices immediately click in that magical way that made 2002's Burn and Shiver and 2003's Hold On Love such graceful releases. The duo scouts out new musical terrain with this six-song EP, discovering the joys of electronic instruments and mechanized beats. There's still plenty of human touch here, but it's tucked in with warm, gurgling synths, as the stunning "Unannounced" illustrates with reversed musical lines and a rhythm that threatens to fall apart as it stutters to its end. "To This Life" scrapes past with a grungy trip-hop beat that complements ominous lo-fi, Portishead-like keyboard sounds and angelic vocals. The piano-based "The Heart Has Its Reasons," the EP's one track where an acoustic instrument is at the center, offers a sense of wistful times. For "We Can Wake," the piano is again joined by rustling beats that take the progress of the duo's 2010's album, Drawing Down the Moon, into a new realm.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor take another break from their reputable solo careers, and their voices immediately click in that magical way that made 2002's Burn and Shiver and 2003's Hold On Love such graceful releases. The duo scouts out new musical terrain with this six-song EP, discovering the joys of electronic instruments and mechanized beats. There's still plenty of human touch here, but it's tucked in with warm, gurgling synths, as the stunning "Unannounced" illustrates with reversed musical lines and a rhythm that threatens to fall apart as it stutters to its end. "To This Life" scrapes past with a grungy trip-hop beat that complements ominous lo-fi, Portishead-like keyboard sounds and angelic vocals. The piano-based "The Heart Has Its Reasons," the EP's one track where an acoustic instrument is at the center, offers a sense of wistful times. For "We Can Wake," the piano is again joined by rustling beats that take the progress of the duo's 2010's album, Drawing Down the Moon, into a new realm.

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4:30

About Azure Ray

Although they became important figures in the Saddle Creek community of Omaha, NE, Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor made their initial mark in Athens, GA, where they formed Azure Ray in 2001. The two musicians -- both Alabama natives as well as childhood friends -- relocated to Athens after school and combined elements of folk, pop, and light electronica into their 2001 debut album. The next winter, Azure Ray issued the November EP on the Saddle Creek label, sparking a fruitful association with the label and its roster. The sophomore effort Burn and Shiver followed in 2002 and exuded a more serene soundscape, as well as slick production work from Crooked Fingers frontman Eric Bachmann. Fink and Taylor also began lending their help to other albums, from Moby's 18 to Bright Eyes' Lifted or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. Meanwhile, they also served as members of Now It's Overhead, another Saddle Creek band.

A year later, Azure Ray continued their prolific pace by issuing Hold on Love. The album proved to be the duo's last release for seven years, though, and both musicians pursued solo careers in the interim. Maria Taylor put out three full-length albums and one collaborative EP (the latter recorded with her Saddle Creek friend Andy LeMaster), while Orenda Fink released a pair of solo albums, one digital EP, one album with her side project Art in Manila, and another with the short-lived pop duo O+S. Taylor and Fink returned their focus to Azure Ray in 2009, launching a brief tour that year before returning in 2010 with their fourth album, Drawing Down the Moon. In September of 2012, the band's fifth, more electronic-leaning offering As Above So Below arrived. ~ MacKenzie Wilson

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