Sometimes the closest things are the hardest to see. Like a photograph too close to the eyes or a fog that surrounds you. Hundred Waters’ Communicating is an attempt to cut through the blur and ask the most interpersonal questions they could, as a band and as people.
In the three years since 2014’s The Moon Rang Like a Bell, Hundred Waters have traveled, separated, reunited, lost a band member, questioned relationships and strove to understand what it means to be together. Through it all, they have maintained a shared living space, moving between different homes in Los Angeles. In Hundred Waters, there is little separation between work and life, personal and social, inside and outside, physical and psychological.
At the core of the album is the relationship between band members Nicole Miglis and Trayer Tryon, whose relationship catalyzed the band in 2012. There are questions of romantic and non-romantic love, self-realization, growing apart, and finding understanding.
To keep it close, the album was written and recorded largely at home. Nicole chose to cut herself off from the outside world and recorded herself in her closet. Tray produced at the kitchen table or wherever he could make room. When things got too close they set up outside the walls for a bit (drums and piano were recorded in a converted Detroit church), or they’d record their friends into the songs, musicians or not.
Following the release of their recent surprise Currency EP as well as organizing and curating their annual FORM Arcosanti festival, Communicating is a grand and ambitious album. The songwriting energises in a way it never has before, whether it comes in the form of the effervescent ‘Wave to Anchor’ or the stirring ‘Blanket Me’. At the same time it’s more confidently experimental, unafraid to spike its pop hooks with noise, or build elaborate, fractal-like patterns out of Miglis’s multitracked voice.
Where Communicating ultimately succeeds is on the most personal, intimate level. It’s a record about breakups, rebirths, searching for peace, getting lost, and discovering unexpected ways of being happy. Like any form of communication, it’s the balance of giving and taking, the impasse and geometric shapes of misunderstanding, the need to be heard, the need to be loved, and the ways in which we may overlook things through the convenience of constant contact.
“From a broad lens,” Miglis says, “the album is a breakup. It starts with a need for independence and it ends with an ‘all better,’ like we did it: we learned, we loved, we separated, and now it’s time for the next chapter.”