Hundred Waters is magically enigmatic.
Here's a band that uses modern technology, meticulously produced synthesizers and pianos, to create a kind of music that could only be achieved at this moment in history. Yet it also sounds as though it should've been world famous 50 years ago.
Think Nat King Cole meets Tame Impala. It's at that dusty and desolate corner of the musical sphere, where nylon-string guitars are lit by neon lights, that Hundred Waters flourishes. And how this foursome has flourished.
The Gainesville-bred band, now residing in Los Angeles, exploded into the wider musical world to critical acclaim following the 2012 release of its first album, the down-to-earth and naturalistic self-titled Hundred Waters.
That success led to an unexpected yet fortuitous opportunity to sign with electronic music superstar Skrillex's label, OWSLA. What to most people seemed a strange pairing, led to the band's second album, The Moon Rang Like A Bell.
"We were exposed to a lot of things after our first record," says singer and pianist Nicole Miglis. "We immediately started touring, traveling, meeting other musicians, listening to music we had never listened to. And because we were on a dance music label, we went to more dance shows and absorbed music like that."
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Discussing Hundred Waters's sonic evolution on the latest album, bass and electronics player Trayer Tryon echoes his bandmate's take.
"We tried to move as far away from what we did last as we could stomach," he admits. "But I don't think there's anything on the album that resembles dance music."
While Skrillex and many other superstar DJs are more interested in creating music designed for crowds of thousands, Miglis and her band remain intent on making songs that are best listened to alone. Or at least in a dark, intimate setting.
As Nicole explains, "Music is a way to condense otherwise indescribable things and make them more understandable. It's still hazy. Though it sounds less hazy and mysterious to me, because I'm on the inside of it. It's my perspective."
And yet, counterintuitively, that last bit is key to explaining the band's success. The deeply personal viewpoint that permeates Hundred Waters' work gives listeners a chance to relate and connect by contemplating those unsolvable existential conundrums that confound us all. So even though the lyrics float in complex patterns beneath delicate layers of elaborately orchestrated instrumentation, it's as if the songs are whispered into the your ear. This music is honest and cathartic and universal.
However, as the foursome making the songs insists, even if The Moon Rang Like a Bell is a notable sonic and emotional evolution from 2011's self-titled debut, there are still many cycles of creative metamorphosis in Hundred Waters' future.
"Maybe the first album sounds like it was more in touch with the world, but I think it was less," Miglis tells New Times. "We were more ignorant to the world. Once we started traveling, we grew more. Which meant realizing we didn't know anything."
We can't wait to see what Hundred Waters come up with when they understand a thing or two.
— Juan Ant. Bisono
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Hundred Waters. With Mitski. Presented by Poplife. Tuesday, March 10. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $15 plus fees via ticketfly.com. All ages. Call 305-377-2277, or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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