Hold On Love
tough place for two frail, dark girls to sing songs so radically delicate
the toot of a harmonica arrives with the force of a volcanic eruption.
singer-guitarists Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor - the dream-pop duo known as
Azure Ray - forged bravely through 40 minutes of sonic gauze, accompanied
occasionally by a trio and perpetually by the din of clubgoers at the
East Friday night.
Azure Ray requires a willing audience; nothing about the songs' deathly
and misty moods would capture the ear of a passerby. The music is murmured
guitar strings stroked with a fingertip, phantom notes from a keyboard
materializing and vaporizing into nothingness, words passing without
inflection. Fink and Taylor breathe melodies. Their translucent harmonies
and fall without any discernible expression, producing a sound that's
unencumbered by the conventional powers of persuasion and songs that seem
like offerings than entertainment.
Perhaps if the show had been set in an intimate space filled with the
converted, Azure Ray's live show would have been magical. As it was, the
concert felt like a losing battle. Dressed head to toe in black and nearly
motionless on stage, the pair performed songs from this year's "Hold on
put out by the noted Nebraska indie label Saddle Creek Records, and two
discs. Both Fink and Taylor have been part of Omaha's revolving Bright Eyes
collective, led by Conor Oberst, and their music is rooted in the same
artful blend of wonder and melancholy.
"Displaced," from the duo's 2001 self-titled debut, demonstrated how
deceptively gentle desolation can sound. "Beautiful Things Can Come From
Dark" - released on a Saddle Creek compilation this year - perfectly
Azure Ray's curiously powerful way of teasing light and color out of the
recesses. Anywhere else a simple piano trill would have amounted to simple
shading; here it was a technicolor rainbow.
"This is a real quiet one," Fink announced to the oblivious, chattering
Most of them had no idea that music was even being played. The several
pressed against the stage, however, were graced by the ethereal force of
"November," a song whose loveliness was so darkly hushed one practically
reach out to hear it.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3