Half Waif have released the first single from their forthcoming new full length album Probable Depths today -- streaming exclusively at Stereogum. Expanding upon the successes of 2014's debut album KOTEKAN, Probable Depths unfolds like a rose slowly opening itself to the sunlight.
In a sense, Probable Depths is an homage to frontwoman Nandi Rose Plunkett's childhood home: "My producer Zubin Hensler and I went to Williamstown for a week in December 2014 to sample sounds from in and around the house, and those became the percussion for the album (with the exception of a couple of instances of live drums). So the frigid New England woods, the clank of the wood stove, the floors I ran across as a kid; they all quite literally exist within the confines of the album."
On "Nest," the album's leading single, Plunkett's plaintive vocals are wed to crackling beats and lush backwards loops, like an audio version of a down comforter. Although she wants to "keep you safe," "Nest" funnels itself into a mid-song vortex; then, the beat straightens itself out, revealing the hidden pop core of Half Waif's music. The track shows Half Waif playing with similar personal-is-political themes as Holly Herndon and Jenny Hval.
As Nandi tells it, “Half Waif was born at a time when all my identities were fracturing and shifting. A waif is someone without a home, but here I was with too many homes, a half waif by virtue of feeling unattached to any specific place, but to many places at once. I took up the torch of Half Waif to make sense of all of the sounds and stories that have made me -- dark piano-based melodies that weave in strains of Celtic folk song and medieval chant with the gravity of doom metal. The music I make is as diverse as my bloodline.”
Half Waif has gone through many iterations, utilizing a plethora of collaborators (such as Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier) and instrumentation. The current line-up features Zack Levine on drums/electronic percussion and Adan Carlo on electric bass. Levine, Carlo, and Plunkett are also part of Pinegrove, who've just signed to Run For Cover.
Aside from her work as Half Waif, Nandi Rose Plunkett tours with OneBeat -- an organization that brings musicians from around the world together to create original work. She also curates a monthly residency at the reclaimed former iron works factory Pioneer Works (in Redhook, Brooklyn) called Found Sound Nation, which features diverse artists, both local and international, crossing over the classical / world / pop / experimental genres. As Nandi says, “Creating community--whether through these two bands or through my work with Found Sound Nation-- is so important to me, because it becomes yet another home to draw inspiration from. I hope that the music I'm making finds an audience that takes it in and feels energized by it, or soothed, and hears in it the echoes of their many homes.” This echo is an invitation -- from Half Waif to you -- and extending ever outward. Heed its call.
Probable Depths will be released this spring.