Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like a Bell (2014)

Between legs of extensive touring both here and abroad somehow Los Angeles via Gainesville art pop collective Hundred Waters found time not only to put down roots long enough to rest and heal but to craft and hone the collection of songs that would become The Moon Rang Like a Bell, their much anticipated debut self-titled effort.

The Moon Rang Like a Bell is far-cry from more of the same, both out of necessity and artistic intent. In gospel-tinged opener "Show Me Love", Hundred Waters shift away slightly for the genreless mass of their past selves and seem fully committed to conveying their influences a bit more clearly here. Or as clearly as the foursome are bound to be - there's no a-ha moments of definite artists/bands the band are paying homage to but merely psychic impressions of more focused and intentional incorporated vibes where they were currently lacking.

Hundred Waters have returned leaner and the new batch of songs reveal a far more elevated use of electronics. Where Hundred Waters obscured the line between electronic and organic sounds like a musical ouroboros, the distinction is far clearer here, the beats heavier, and surprisingly enough the booming, occasional dub undertones of Hundred Waters snuffed out almost completely.

One of the delights of the Hundred Waters album can be found in its pacing - finding the pitch perfect balance between atmospheric reveries and much more straightforward pop dalliances. Where Hundred Waters glistened with cosmic radiance, The Moon Rang Like a Bell sets its sights a bit lower; where the debut recalled the celestial and ethereal, the sophomore effort strives for more earthly pleasures - aiming for much more visceral responds than mere awe. While it's debatable if one album has more textural inlays than the other or is more accessible than the other, there's no denying the newer work doesn't allow itself to simply revel in its own beauty fusing it monumental music passages with an ever present forward motion and occasional dance-inspiring energy.

It is often the case of musicians creating music as art to create impenetrable or alienating works but that's never been Hundred Waters' Achilles heel. Hundred Waters are an all inclusive group of talented songweavers and its that openness that aids them on their follow up - where Nicole Miglis vocals threaten to get swallowed in the bray in such a way where their meaning might not be readily apparent, Hundred Waters ensure that there's plenty of other elements to clutch onto. Always making sure to give Miglis her due, there's certainly an abundance of sounds to distract the casual listener not necessarily from her vocals whose melodies ring clear as bell but the very meaning they're trying to convey.

The Moon Rang Like a Bell is an excellent follow up to an formidable debut. Hundred Waters' return manages to keep them sounding like one-trick ponies while establishing a justifiable development of an already impressively unique sound - essentially the hope for every band but Hundred Waters do so with celebrated finesse and awe-inspiring vision.

Hundred Waters' sophomore full length The Moon Rang Like a Bell is available on OWSLA now.

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