Flotilla: One Hundred Words for Water

Flotilla_OneHundredWordsForWaterUnusual Canadian quartet mixes progrock, classical and more

One spin of this Montreal band’s second full-length made me belatedly realize that my infatuation with Stereolab and Portishead traces a straight line back to an earlier infatuation with Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, and many other ‘70s prog-rock giants. It’s not that these bands share the same exact melodic, rhythmic or instrumental sensibilities, but they each temper rock elements with something progressive, such as jazz, classical, and world music. Flotilla augments their keyboards, electronics, bass, and drums, with ethereal, delicate touches of fingertip plucked harp. Their blend of rock, jazz, folk, lounge, pop and classical surrounds the multihued vocals of Veronica Charnley. Her voice rises into an upper range that brings to mind Kate Bush, but also has the warm sophistication of a torch singer and moments of gothic mystery. The arrangements include punchy post-punk, classical horns, dreamy keyboard and harp, and heavy ensemble jams, often changing styles and tempos within a single composition. The poetic lyrics are image-inducing at the line level, but opaque and abstract in stanzas. No matter, the music provides plenty of hooks without the benefit of concrete characters or stories. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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