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Song Premiere: Azure Ray, 'Red Balloon'

Azure Ray's new EP, <em>As Above So Below</em>, comes out Sept. 4.
Courtesy of the artist
Azure Ray's new EP, As Above So Below, comes out Sept. 4.

Azure Ray documents the collision between two distinct musical sensibilities: the sweetly airy, bittersweet pop of Maria Taylor and the buzzier, busier, frequently electronic sounds of Orenda Fink. The two have worked separately quite a bit in recent years — Taylor as a solo artist and Fink both solo and as half of O+S — but in Azure Ray, they still meet in the creamy, dreamy midpoint between their individual sounds.

The Omaha duo is capable of weaponizing its melancholy to devastating effect, but Azure Ray's forthcoming six-song As Above So Below EP (out Sept. 4) finds the pair mining considerably gentler territory. Working on a bed of clicks and ahhhhhhs, Taylor unleashes what amounts to a long, slow summer swoon: "You know you bring joy to everything," she sings, awash in unguarded optimism. The devastating melancholy will come later.

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Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)