Even if you removed the vocal contributions of Nicole Miglis, which are a crucial element of the finished product, the instrumental tracks on Hundred Waters' self-titled debut album would be intriguing all by themselves. A shape-shifting swirl of electronically tweaked textures runs through the record, touching on everything from ambient atmospheres to techno-derived grooves, glitchy IDM moves, and occasional jazzy touches. Sonic experimentalist Trayer Tryon and company have created an electro-acoustic framework that's simultaneously labyrinthine and accessible, which is no easy trick. Fortunately for all concerned, the Hundred Waters album does not exist in the aforementioned speculative reality, and does not have to do without the work of Miglis, which puts the whole enterprise into another area it wouldn't otherwise have reached. Striking a vocal tone somewhere between the ethereal otherworldliness of Bjrk and the arty-but-passionate peal of Kate Bush, Miglis pulls all the disparate musical strains together, with her airy pipes as the connecting thread. Whether she's cooing over the stark piano lines of the closing cut, "Gather," or swinging into the sultry electro-samba of "Me & Anodyne," Miglis is a quietly commanding, consistently appealing vocal presence. And once you get past all the musical delights provided by the group as a whole, there are the lyrics to be absorbed. With a sound this strong, Miglis could quite conceivably have gotten by with a series of random abstractions, but in fact her lyrics show a strong poetic sense that enhances Hundred Waters' promising maiden voyage even further. ~ J. Allen
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