Hundred Waters Brings A Mesmerizing Performance to Hype Hotel at SXSW
The music of the Florida electronic group Hundred Waters is defined by a sense of mystery. Other groups barrel through brightly-lit synth-driven numbers with sweat and nerve but Hundred Waters prefer to glide and float. Their Wednesday afternoon set at Hype Hotel was a thing of quiet beauty, full of haunting, ghost-like songs full of nuance and suggestion.
Chalk most of this up to vocalist Nicole Miglis. She exhales syllables softly and gracefully, tripping up the scale without warning before tumbling back down again. The singer she most recalls is Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser, lacing melodies together like thin silk ribbons. What she was singing was often obscured, but there was the sense it didn't much matter; the way she sang it was both eerie and mesmerizing.
It was clear from opener "Out Aloo," where she wove her way gently through filmy layers of synth. Late in the song, those synths collected into something that sounded like electronic raindrops, gentle and crystalline, with Miglis gracefully navigating the space between them. Other times the sounds grew murky and overcast, suggesting turbulence, with Miglis pitching her voice down to a whisper behind the black clouds of sound. Mostly, though, the set felt strange and otherworldly, with weird, gauzy bands of sound that rippled softly, like the Northern Lights. When they finally relented and played a song driven by a thumping, insistent bass beat, even that felt far-off and aloof — a song designed not so much for dancing with a partner, but for bobbing alone, quietly in a corner.