Release Date: May 27, 2014
Record label: OWSLA
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop
It’s been a rather strange rise for Floridian alt-folk-quartet Hundred Waters thus far. Following their impressive self-titled debut in 2012, they quite rapidly (and quite beguilingly) landed themselves on Skrillex’s Full Flex Express tour alongside the dubstep megalith and iconic producers Diplo and Grimes. It was an odd pairing. Sure, Hundred Waters certainly utilized its share of synthesizers and digital elements to an impressive degree, yet the landing of their folk-inspired, multi-instrumental act on such a lineup of more electronic-focused musicians, plus their eventual signing to Skrillex’s OWSLA label, seemed a juxtaposition of sorts.
The second full-length from Hundred Waters is not an evolution so much as a refinement. If 2012’s self-titled effort saw the band sketching out the borders of their sound, The Moon Rang Like a Bell finds them zeroing in on what they do best and going deeper. The production is improved in every way, but given how hushed and quiet they can be, the effect is still pretty subtle.
It’s hard to listen to album opener “Show Me Love”—a haunting a cappella composition of morphed vocals and arching harmonies—without making a knee-jerk comparison to Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” but listen a bit more and you’ll forget about that overplayed and over-parodied song altogether. It functions like a lullaby that draws you, eyes glazed, into a dream of a record. The front half of The Moon Rang Like a Bell is a tapestry of complex percussion that resists locking into a solid rhythm (à la James Blake), ethereal synths reminiscent of Hail to the Thief’s sonic landscape, and singer Nicole Miglis’s delicate and fluttering yet forceful voice.
“Show me love, show me love, show me love,” pleads Hundred Waters singer Nicole Miglis through a thatch of echoes and Auto-Tune as the Gainsville, Florida experimentalists’ second album whirrs into life. ‘The Moon Rang Like a Bell’ isn’t a record that needs to beg for your affection though – three tracks in, by the time the gloriously broody ‘Cavity’ reaches you, it’s already deep under your skin. With shades of Julia Holter and Poliça, the 12 electro-R&B nocturnes here unfold in shimmers of keyboard, indistinct vocals (most disarmingly on piano jam ‘Broken Blue’) and torrents of existential anguish: “Is it only in my head?” asks Miglis on the James Blake-ish ‘Innocent’.
Gainesville’s Hundred Waters open their record with nothing but a voice. Nicole Miglis is the one constant on ‘The Moon Rang Like a Bell’, an album that zig-zags between anxiety, apprehension and unhinged joy without any warning throughout its 12 tracks. This voice of hers - it’s brittle on the outside, but it has this strange ability to hold its own in any circumstances.
Florida/California-rooted experimental pop collective Hundred Waters introduced the world to their impressive pastiche of electronic and organic sounds with their self-titled 2012 debut. Wild samples, cold beats, and effervescent walls of vocals drew comparisons to everyone from Björk to Dirty Projectors, though no comparisons were bold enough to really pin down the band's frenetic sound. In the two years that followed, Hundred Waters found themselves performing live a great deal more than in their beginnings, and approached the writing/recording process for sophomore album The Moon Rang Like a Bell with live performance in mind, hoping to dutifully replicate the sounds of the album in a live setting.
Hundred Waters are bristling and bonking shoulders with Less Than Jake on their way to the title of ‘Gainesville, Florida’s Most Famous Musical Export’ (lucrative, eh?). The muggy fug and Floridian sunshine clearly affects the two acts in different ways, with the ska-riddled pop-punks vying for sheer ADD-hedonism, and OWSLA’s Hundred Waters (yep, the label owned by Skrillex) preferring to fan themselves with waves of gloopy synthscapery in the balmy dusk. Hundred Waters dropped their eponymous debut towards in the autumn of 2012, to acclaim from most sources, with many noting their innovative take on the tired route of folktronica – this lead to support slots with The xx, alt-J and others; not too shabby at all.
Hundred Waters' new album is one of those that functions best under specific circumstances: in particular, late at night, with headphones on. Listening alone is probably best, too. It's a sonically adventurous electro-pop record and it makes for a dark, glittery listen that benefits most from dark, glittery surroundings. Drawing from various popular genres, chief among them the latest wave of indie R&B and hushed, minimal electronic production, The Moon Rang Like a Bell is Hundred Waters' first album for Skrillex's OWSLA label, and while their aesthetic doesn't veer too close to Skrillex's aggressive brand of dubstep, the new label has certainly electrified the group's sound.
Gainesville, Florida act Hundred Waters seemingly came out of nowhere with their eponymous debut effort in 2012, a jumbled disarray of electronic expressionism that loosely followed a folktronica influence. Pursuing a natural aesthetic through digital means isn’t exactly a novel concept, and instead of taking the modest, grounded route the foursome reached for a vast constellation of heavily-layered stellar sounds; their creative minds orbiting at the velocity of light. Hundred Waters headed in very different directions as it progressed, and the strange alchemy of new age dramatic flourishes and atonal synth beats weaved in and out with grace and skill.
Hundred Waters, a band from Gainesville, Florida, who has since relocated to Los Angeles, are probably best known for being the sole non-EDM band signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA imprint. Despite not being dance music, the group does have a rather electronic sensibility merged with that of indie pop. The outfit has been compared to everything from Stereolab to The Postal Service, Broadcast, Laura Nyro, and Björk, which is quite a range.
When a loop of the words "I wish you" enters the song "Murmurs," it's completely out of sync. But the delicious moment when the song comes together is Hundred Waters at their best: a band that truly makes music feel like magic. The L.A. group's second album for Skrillex's OWSLA label swaps the cosmic folk of its debut for a more electronic palette, with increased groove, vocal soul and psychedelic potency.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It's difficult to categorize Hundred Waters. Are they more folk or electronic? Comparisons have been made to Braids and Dirty Projectors, although each of those names is also distinctly hard to classify. Things get a bit hazier when you throw in the fact that they're labelmates with dubstep king Skrillex on OWSLA.
opinion byRAJ DAYAL The ethereal shape-shifting voice of singer Nicole Miglis is the foundation of indie rock/art pop group, Hundred Waters, but it also allows the music to float away. On The Moon Rang Like a Bell, the band’s second full-length album, listeners are presented with Miglis’ enigmatic lyrics set against a dense soundscape of instruments that might be electronic, acoustic or some beautifully mangled version of both. However, the songs on this new album are more than simple atmospherics.
You haven’t really been listening. That seems to be the message of Hundred Waters’ new album, The Moon Rang Like a Bell. That’s super pedantic on its own, but imagine that message was conveyed almost subliminally, gently like a lover whispering into your ear while you’re sleeping. It begins with vocalist Nicole Miglis singing, a cappella, a literal incantation (“Show me love”) and ends with a simple entreaty (“Can you hear?”), but this is an album where lyrics split their time between mantra and prayer, blurring into stunning abstraction then reaching out in earnestness, in and out like waves.
Hundred Waters is starting to live up to its name. The watery expanse implied in the band’s moniker that may have been slightly dried up in the sunny near-folk of their 2012 self-titled debut is now in the midst of a tidal change. Whereas Hundred Waters imbued the vaguely pastoral into its synth-shivering experimentation, The Moon Rang Like A Bell is darker and more aware of itself.