Drawing Down The Moon Drawing Down The Moon

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Azure Ray Azure RayDrawing Down The Moon

7 / 10

Azure Ray Drawing Down The Moon SADDLE CREEK

They told us that Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, the band members of Azure Ray, had split up. We would like to imagine the Final Discussion from here as the antithesis of the crisis that Metallica had (which can even be seen in the documentary “Some Kind of Monster”); that is, as a chain of reproaches or half-truths whispered and touched up, to end in a fade-to-off, a fade-to-white (not black) that has lasted exactly seven years, the time that has passed since “Hold on Love” (2003). Many divorced couples would have liked to have broken up like that. And to have returned as if expelled from a beehive: with “Drawing down the Moon”, which will make an effort to get musical critics to catalogue the girls as (just plain) dreampop. There is no change in direction. It is a clean return. As if nothing much had happened (in the end, in between, both women had their own individual projects; both collaborated with Bright Eyes and put out their own albums in 2009, but neither of these flirtations prospered other than as a way to stay active). We even have Eric Bachmann ( Crooked Fingers) again doing production, an example of bearded man in the trees (read: creator of sad folk and various organic jumbles).

This work by Azure Ray is a range of styles where anything from new age to folkie lo-fi has a place. In “In the Fog”, for example, the use of analogue static sounds, along with transparent guitars does the trick without needing to break moulds, even though there is an emptiness floating over the song, as well as the rest of the songs. It is an emptiness caused at times by the choice of genre itself, an electronic ring (typical, I might add) with inert whispers (in “Don’t Leave My Mind”), and the harp with intimate lo-fi siren songs in “Wake up, Sleepyhead”. This is one of the problems with dream pop (if you want to call it that, or to put Azure Ray in this sack): being merely pretty. If we move towards the purely organic (the calm “Make your Heart”) we see that the voices never really let loose, although they are constantly talking about losses in love with double meanings (between the lines one can make out that the band’s break-up in 2004 is the inspiration, the theme of the composition), subjects that are dark in and of themselves; within the stylistic panorama of whispers they are focused from the angle of contained resentment or the dying moan, and they don’t end up finding a place to come out into the light of day in their true form. We do find melodic pianos and guitars at the service of depression ( “Signs in the Leaves”) or acoustic songs like the heartfelt, contained, melancholy “Larraine”, but everything mainly stays in the bubbling background of chill-out ( “Love and Permanence”).

Fink and Taylor had the opportunity to make the album more interesting with the only song with character ( “Shouldn't Have Loved”), where they needed to bring out more voice and interpretation, but it seems like the dream beats stuck to the soles of their shoes like chewing gum on the pavement, and the only solution (for them and for the listener) is either nudity ( “Walking in Circles” is the only example of the nearby voice, without echoes or make-up, also in the sack of the acoustic, but a step above the “spa song”) or doing it even better (although they fall fairly far behind to catch up with people like Hope Sandoval and Mazzy Star). It’s a nice try, though. When all is said and done, one misses more work, although there is plenty of freshness.

Jordi Guinart

Azure Ray - Don't Leave My Mind

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