Hundred Waters flows between genres

ALEX SIDDONS | Evergreen columnist

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As the lines between genres become increasingly blurred, it’s often hard to place a band in today’s music atmosphere. But with the release of Hundred Waters’ album “The Moon Rang Like A Bell,” one can describe the band only as beautiful.

The Gainesville, Florida quartet released its second full-length album May 27 on OWSLA, the label run by Sonny Moore, who we all know as Skrillex. It’s an odd pairing given Moore popularized a brash, maximalist sound that is about as subtle as an elephant.

Hundred Waters, on the other hand, doesn’t inundate the listener with too much at once. Oftentimes songs drop off dramatically to emphasize one instrument as it floats through open space. At other times they glisten and beg for sunlight – not to be touched, however, as their fragile existence could shatter in your hands. It’s calming but with hints of subtle excitement throughout.

In “Down From the Rafters,” dueling strings play against synthesizers only to give way to a heavy kick drum that resonates in the space once occupied. A marching bit of percussion plays deep in the background as airy vocals make a gradual entrance. As the voice grows stronger, the marching percussion grows closer in an ominous yet reassuring manner. The kick drum continuously propels the song forward, accompanied by glassy synthesizers that would make Four Tet proud.

The voices of Nicole Miglis and Zach Tetreault compliment each other with similar timbres and intertwine in a beautiful way. This effect produces a rich, rewarding experience as in “[Animal]” in which their voices flow like a tributary. In “Cavity” the vocals sound like a stronger version of How To Dress Well but lack the credence of Autre Ne Veut. The delivery definitely owes itself to R&B, but musically Hundred Waters expands further than its peers.

While at one point in time Hundred Waters might have been described as somewhere between electronic and folk, it’s tough tell where this album falls on that spectrum. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are moments of R&B vocal delivery, but the constant crescendo, skittering drums and erratic vocals on “Seven White Horses” sound like Squarepusher teamed up with Dirty Projectors.

While lead single “Down from the Rafters” starts as a slow jam that will no doubt appeal to fans of Odesza and Bonobo, the latter half, like “Cavity” and “XTalk,” is ready for the dance floor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see songs like “[Animal]” get the remix treatment given OWSLA’s strong allegiance to the EDM community.

The album ends with “No Sound,” a track that drones into whatever space it can occupy. After two minutes, the song gives out with the sound of glass bottles rattling and ushering in fluid synthesizers, layered vocals and a heavy presence in the low end. As drums enter a minute later, the track continues to build upon itself, rising slowly in intensity. The end of the song doesn’t so much summon rain as it clears clouds the from the sky.

Hundred Waters begs the listener to take a step back and gaze upon the stars in the night sky, and with an album like “The Moon Rang like a Bell,” that’s about as close as one can get to labeling the band with a genre.