music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Reviewed for Under The Radar Magazine:
On-again, off-again dream pop duo Azure Ray return with a six-song EP, As Above So Below. Championed some 10 years ago by Moby, Southern belles Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink bring in The Faint’s Andy Fink and Bright Eyes’ Andy LeMaster. As Above is Azure Ray gone electric—but with analog equipment. Syncopated rhythms and buzzing synthersizers are set against lo-fi hisses and acoustic instrumentation. This combination works primarily because of the voices. The echoing, vibrating harmonies on the standout Mazzy Star-esque “We Could Wake” are spine chilling in their intimacy. The ladies tickle your eardrums with the “ah-woos” on “The Heart Has Its Reasons.” Portishead is channeled on “To This Life” with backwards whooshes and wonderfully out-of-time soft beat patterns. Expansive shuddering synth stabs punctuate “Scattered Like Leaves” while electro jabs cough in the background. These disjointed, yet complementary elements are tempered by cooing vocals. The voices cut in and out of “Red Balloon” creating unexpected, yet interesting static. Enlisting the boys was a good move on the part of the girls. Now they have an edge to their sound that otherwise have been too simple and too gentle.