The Moon Rang Like a Bell
Hundred Waters = iamamiwhoami + Björk + Imogen Heap
Following the subtly intricate formula of their first album, Hundred Waters’ new release continues with the same airy splendor, but with more refinement. Nicole Miglis’ vocals are breathy and smooth, morphing so well with the instrumental side of the music that they become almost indiscernible. The album begins with the a cappella “Show Me Love,” a hopeful and honest piece with the earnest vulnerability of opening up to another human. As the album’s conceit progresses, however, the story becomes gloomier. Dreamy, starry melodies are prominent throughout, particularly on “Out Alee,” but unexpectedly, lyrical content is confused or self-deprecating. The songs are focused on paranoia, doubt and despondency. This opposed dichotomy is a reward for those who commit to multiple listens, creating a brilliant concept where one leaves with something different on every listen. It isn’t often that I find an album so equally focused on sound and poetic lyricism. Clever, little details, such as left-to-right, walkie-talkie-like repetition of the word crosstalk over a verse on “Xtalk,” make The Moon Rang Like a Bell so significant. Hundred Waters renews experimental electronica and art-pop of the last 20 years with a bricolage of warped and loopy effects, crystalline synths and curious, tinkling piano. We come away with a mellifluous and uniquely modern style akin to Björk, but with enough delicacy that to connect it directly to the Icelandic beauty would be oversimplifying. The musical foundation of this album perfectly represents 2014, a year of revitalization and self-discovery, by sounding neither senescent nor ahead of its time, but flawlessly fit into the fringes of current music. –LeAundra Jeffs
This is an Extended Review from SLUG Magazine’s Top Five Albums of 2014.