Hundred Waters – impression review

This is not so much a review as it is an impression.

 3voor12 is a Dutch internet-based music platform and they recently sponsored gigs by different bands during a music festival that featured up and coming bands in different venues all across my home town of Utrecht this past Saturday. One band inspired me to write.

Hundred Waters - impression review - 01.02

I find myself at a small stage room tucked away in a corner of the city centre’s shopping mall. The grey carpet, round bar with fixed stools and the curtained podium together hearken back to a 1950’s ad-firm lounge. Soundcheck proceeds noisily behind the curtain and my expectations have nothing to go on besides an emphatic “They’re really good,” given to me by my friend, whose opinion on music I trust wholeheartedly.

Hundred Waters - impression review - 03.04.05

The curtains open. Two women to my left, one man straight ahead and two men to my right. Crystal clear angelic voice; keyboard, flute and song that pulls at your heartstrings; masterful complementary drums that could easily stand alone; electric guitar, bass and synth flesh out rhythm and melody; electric guitar and effects add detail and complexity.

Hundred Waters - impression review - 06

One can’t help but recognize oneself in the look of the men onstage as they swoon, enthralled by the saccharine voices of their ensemble’s counterparts. Sometimes teetering on the brink of incoherence, the mercurial patterns of the music bring to mind an epic ride on a winged Imogen Heap in a swan dress across an amorphous mountain valley. Soft, sweet song builds into a rising crescendo before you’re assaulted by a harmonized cacophony that, rather than repels, acts to draw you inwards and upwards with the collaboration of sound to follow the direction the singers seem to be taking, their toes being all that’s left to connect them to the ground.

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This experience leads me to believe they need and deserve more widespread recognition. The first thing I say after their short, but very impressive, show was “What’s their name again?”.

It’s Hundred Waters.

I hadn’t heard of them before, but I will not forget and I hope to hear that name many, many times in the future.


Hundred Waters - impression review - 08

Photos by Dongwei Su twitter flickr


Jarle Bernhoft – review

30-10-2012 Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht, Netherlands

Interspersed with Dutch tongue-twisters, Jarle Bernhoft’s final show of the tour was characterized by lots of laughter and a wild whirlwind of emotions, ranging from silly dance elation to heartfelt, tear jerking wistfulness. Shivers of aural pleasure drew a blanket of tingling gooseflesh from my skin time and time again during the hour long show set on a master plan of upbeat songs that invited sing along and spotlight soul that evoked immediate enraptured silence.

The multi-instrumentalist Norseman that shot to YouTube fame with the live recording of C’mon talk” slid into an easy rapport with the crowd with silly jokes, clever references to the venue in his songs and resounding charisma to give the whole show a very personal atmosphere.

Skilful use of 5 different instruments, vocalizations and a bit of beatboxing on a loop machine backed impressive guitar play, while a clear falsetto all the way down to a reverberating bass let every well placed word ring with honesty.

Bernhoft has shown himself to be a true stage performer, standing up to demonstrate a ridiculous dance move, admitting to the hit and miss nature a particular song enjoyed during the tour and  inviting the crowd to join in a song with a smile and a hand-on-heart thank you every time. He reeled with laughter and obvious delight while the crowd sang his gospel as his faithful congregation during the encore. Though exhausted in the end, he didn’t seem to want to leave and the crowd would have had him stay forever if we could.

Jarle Bernhoft is a brilliant artist and I can personally guarantee the awesome delivery of everything a concert should be at one of his shows.

The warm-up act for Bernhoft was provided by Lucy Swann. Also from Oslo, Lucy Swann put me in mind of a soulful mix between Imogen Heap and Björk. The surprisingly good (surprising, because I had no idea what to expect) Norwegian beauty tugged at my heartstrings with a lightly veiled homage to the Proclaimers and one of my top-5 favourite songs ever. Definitely worth an ear.


Writing Without Words

It seems a paradox. Like an attempt to sound profound and insightful in some esoteric way, claiming a poet’s rights as a wall against criticism. Though I mean to use the words as all written words were once intended to be used: literally.

Writing is something nearly everyone must do, many love to do and few are good at doing. The idea of committing words to paper, making thoughts tangible, is enticing. To ‘simply’ place one’s ‘brilliant’ ideas on paper for everyone to ‘enjoy’ sounds attractive. It’s also the leading cause of vampire novels.

Conversely, the realization that those you would have read your works might not enjoy them as much as you would like or (heavens forbid) not even like at all is the leading cause of writer’s block. Every person who styles him or herself a writer must at times struggle with the frustrating juxtaposition of being able to bore friends and family (and anyone else) to death with endless soliloquies on ‘the upcoming book’ and the immediate regression to a toddler’s vocabulary as soon as you attempt to actually write.

This is what I mean by writing without words. You know the story, the plot, the hook and hang-ups. You’re familiar with the characters; you know their faces, their pasts and their futures. All of this is readily available to you. All but the actual words. Distracted by Facebook, 9gag and Youtube, you flee to the safety and demand for discipline of pen and paper, only to return to the lure of internet after a few hours, with nothing to show for your efforts but a slightly more chewed on pen and doodles that remind you why you’re not a painter. And the more time you sink into trying to write a bestseller, the more you’re frustrated and the more you feel you need to produce the next time. You’re writing, you’re making the attempt, you’re pursuing your passion, but you have no real results.

You have no words.

However clear this may come across, however this might or might not be familiar to you, this is how I often feel when trying to write. I no longer live in the delusion that if I would gift the world with my words I would be raised up on a shining pedestal of literary accolades. And even though I hope that whenever I manage to write a book it will generate a more positive than negative response from the world at large, I always try to write to satisfy the world inside my mind, first and foremost. I just want to write. Yet, as ever, this art requires the application of words, which in turn demands that the right words be available.

So I decided to do exactly that. When learning a new language, you need to practice and with practice you develop a vocabulary and learn the intricacies of that language. Immerse yourself in the culture of the language and before you know it you’re bandying about puns and idioms, making bad jokes and using wise sayings. Before you know it, you’re comfortable.

I want to be comfortable. Better yet, I need to be comfortable to write. And thus I need to practice. I need to practice the language of written words. I will immerse myself in the culture of writing. I will take up residence in a single bedroom apartment in the village of Blog, working diligently and saving up to afford that spacious loft in the city of Book.

Alternating with Gry Ulstein and Daphné Dupont-Nivet I will write a tri-weekly piece on life, the universe and everything. We have taken a vow to support each other and hold each other accountable for our writing and before you know it, we’ll be fluent.