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Hundred Waters - The Moon Rang Like a Bell

"The Moon Rang Like a Bell"

Release date: 27 May 2014
Hundred waters the moon rang like a bell
19 May 2014, 15:30 Written by Robby Ritacco
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. Hundred Waters was plenty digital, but also quite natural—bathed in lightly plucked strings and soft, whimsical harmonies. Their latest, The Moon Rang Like a Bell, seems to bridge that gap, tipping the scales a little more toward digital favor, but still maintains that sense of mysticism and naturalistic allure.

Where Hundred Waters saw instruments all but duking it out for driving supremacy, burying hooks deep within layers of colliding lines both digital and non, Moon‘s hookiest moments are born not out of instrumental complexity, but rather from gradual builds and layered tensions. This is not to suggest that Moon is without complexity, or has any shortage of hooks, just that even its hookiest moments come from a more solemn, slow-developed place. It’s not a “poppy” album (not that Hundred Waters was, but Moon even less so), but it does have its punchy moments, buried mostly in the back half on tracks like “Down from the Rafters,” “[Animal]” and (perhaps their most moving, triumphant song to date) “Seven White Horses.”

By and large, Moon plays out as a largely introspective affair, often feeling like somewhat of a one-on-one with singer Nicole Miglis, due in no small part to the relative lack of spotlight on vocal harmonies, which is largely absent compared to its prior save for Miglis’ own occasionally layered vocals, which are often executed rather subtly. Further, slower-moving numbers like “Broken Blue” and “Chambers (Passing Train)” are largely centered on Miglis and her keys, with added flittered accompaniment accenting the mood as she illustrates it.

Rather than doling out hooks, direction and depth through intricate flurries of conjoined instrumentation like its predecessor, The Moon Rang Like a Bell focuses on a simpler formula, allowing docile verses to develop and capsize with big swells of tension and triumph. It’s the product of a band that’s clearly thinking on their feet, engaging with the conflicting styles of those around them and assimilating new behaviors without sacrificing their own, changing with the world around them to create something refreshingly distinct and beautifully engaging.

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