Hundred Waters


Hundred Waters are a hard band to pin down, genre wise. Made up of vocalist Nicole Miglis, electronics whizz Trayer Tyron and percussionist Zach Tetreault, they can twist from lo-fi electronic folk loveliness to full electro-pop banger to all consuming noise, sometimes within the same song, and often punctured by sections of incredibly beautiful piano balladeering. They are variously described as electro-folk, art rock, indie rock, all of which seem pretty unsuitable, and they are, confusingly, signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA, home to mostly unlistenable EDM awfulness.

Tonight the trio take to the Deaf Institute stage in front of a semi-sparse Monday night crowd, all dressed in red of some form, like an expanded, bastardised White Stripes, and launch straight into the title song of their new album, Communicating, released earlier this year. I say ‘launched’, it’s more ‘eased’, as Miglis loops her voice several times to create the base of the song before singing through heavy distortion as the electronics swirl around her, the repeated mantra of “are we communicating?” creating a hypnotising start to what proves to be a mesmerising gig. As the song draws to a close and segues into the next one, the rapt audience don’t quite know whether to applaud or not, so we don’t, and it helps to not break the spell that first song has cast. I think we’re all bewitched, beholden to the captivating soundscapes created.

The spell is broken when the band play the two ‘electro—bangers’ from their new album back to back, first up the slightly pop-by-numbers ‘Particle’, followed by the joyous ‘Wave to Anchor’, which builds to such a bouncing crescendo that, I swear to God, there are people actually dancing down front. It’s such a contrast from the opening few songs that it seems to shake the audience out of their rapt stupor, and the urge to move, although seemingly resisted at first, has taken hold of most people. It’s the perfect example of the musical juxtaposition that Hundred Waters can pose, and it’s pulled even sharper into focus when Migils is left alone on stage next to sit at her piano and play a gorgeous solo version of ‘Parade’, a heart wrenching ballad that repeatedly asks “why do I go?”, and “you never cared before, so what are you doing it for”, enough to pin-prick my eyes into some water based action. Miglis’ voice is ethereal, stunning, beautiful, and regardless of the changes in musical direction, anchors the band throughout the set.

What follows is one of the most enchanting last thirds of a gig I’ve seen this year. ‘At Home & In My Head’ reintroduces the band, all skittering beats and delicate vocals, before descending into a cacophony of noise, Tetreault hammering away at his cymbals and floor toms, Tyron twisting electronics and bass so the floor rumbles, before petering out into the almost Sufjan Stevens-esque ‘Re:’, so pretty compared to what has come before, making it all the more striking. Following that comes ‘Murmurs’, from their much loved The Moon Rang Like A Bell LP, and ending in a stunning ‘Blanket Me’, my favourite track from their new album, in which I wrap myself and luxuriate in the warmth of the sound created. To finish off, Miglis is left alone again, and unable to make her keyboard work, treats us to an a capella version of ‘Show Me Love’, which is so stunning you can hear a pin drop and several sniffles. It’s a shame their aren’t more people present to witness this, as it’s genuinely one of the finest endings to show I’ve seen, but Miglis doesn’t seem to care as she beams back at an ecstatic audience and waves us goodbye, blowing a candle out as she exits stage left. She’s left quite the impression.

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