Flotilla’s latest album, “One Hundred Words for Water,” has been hailed by Exclaim! magazine as “one of the most original and engaging albums released by a new Canadian group recently”. In support of this album, Flotilla has toured nationally and played at festivals such as NXNE, Ladyfest and Evolve. They’ve also made New York City their second home in the past year, playing frequently in Mahattan and Brooklyn, including a showcase for Deli Magazine. “One Hundred Words for Water” was the 4th most-played independently released album of 2009 on Canadian community/campus radio (behind Rural Alberta Advantage, The Balconies, and In-Flight Safety).
Led by the pairing of Veronica Charnley, an intuitive melodist and guitarist, and Geof Holbrook, an Ivy-League-schooled contemporary classical composer, Flotilla makes for an unusual, genre-defying indie-rock outfit. The music has been compared to Kate Bush, Bell Orchestre, Portishead, and Joanna Newsom. Charnley's songs have been praised for their melodic inventiveness and vivid imagery – the “half-stories” of the lyrics provoke and invite the listener to imagine their own scenarios. Geof Holbrook (who was a finalist in the CBC Evolution Competition) provides arrangements for harp, autoharp, horns, kalimba, organ, piano and electronics that have been hailed as complex and adventurous.
Flotilla has shared stages with Ohbijou, Ghost Bees, Jon-Rae and the River, Culture Reject, Pink Noise, Glass Ghost and as well, quite proudly, with weirdo acts Deep Dark United and 101 Crustaceans. In March 2009, they held a residency at The Banff Centre where they worked on new material inspired by the Rocky Mountains. With new friends they made at the Centre (including a cora player) they put together a concert that was recorded and broadcast by CBC.
The band will be part of the traveling Pitter Patter festival in May, and they are currently preparing to record their third full-length this summer, which will include more ambitious arrangements by Holbrook.
About One Hundred Words for Water:
To make One Hundred Words for Water, Flotilla rented out Studio Loco, which is directly above much-loved Montreal venue Casa del Popolo, for three weeks. They arrived with half of the songs half-written; but access to long hours in the studio made possible a spontaneous, organic approach to completing them. Producer and engineer Robert-Eric Gaskell set up camp with the band, which proceeded to take advantage of whatever instruments were lying around (French horn, trombone, Fender rhodes, kalimba, autoharp, a honky-tonk piano and a spinet organ someone’s grandmother had left there). They practically lived off the sandwiches sold by Casa downstairs – their favourite was called “Miel Madness”. The recording process, like the sandwich, was at once maddening and sweet as honey.
The resulting album is White-Album-esque in its diversity. Operatic, eccentric, contemplative, raucous, harmonious, abstract and heartfelt are all applicable adjectives. All this is on display at their live shows, where the band performs the album (and a lot of new material already), very often expanding the palette with guest musicians from a variety of backgrounds.
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