Plumes marries indie pop and vocal chamber music with clever lyricism when they perform at the Armstrong Inn Sunday.

Plumes marries indie pop and vocal chamber music with clever lyricism when they perform at the Armstrong Inn Sunday.

Plumes combines classical sensibility with its ethereal sound

Montreal ensemble Plumes plays its harmonically experimental music at the Armstrong Inn Sunday, June 2.

There’s an ethereal quality to Plumes, both its classical ensemble and its indie pop incarnation, to be placed somewhere between Björk and Sarah Slean.

A quick listen to their summer 2012 self-titled album suggests the flowery boasts of its promoters are finally not musical prowess hyperbole.

While many an indie act might promise the stars, this is one prolific, unmatched creative force grounded in the marriage of singer/songwriter Veronica Charnley, and her composer husband, Geof Holbrook.

He has trained in ivy league schools from Columbia University to the Insititut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris and has been awarded in the SOCAN Competition for Young Composers seven times. She is trained in creative writing and the art of making house wherever their prolific career takes them—often to follow his education.

“We move a lot so to be able to have Geof give the notations to different musicians in different cities makes everything faster,” said Charnley.

“Faster” is actually more like light speed for these two who have lived in some of the most prolific creative communities the world over in the last six years and created two, even three, separate bands, if one counts the chamber ensemble and indie pop branches of Plumes as two different acts.

Their first group, the very rockesque Flotilla, carved a space for their sound somewhere near Kate Bush and Portishead in the music annals, and met with the kind of acclaim that sees its work lauded totally unique by seasoned music critics.

When the pop sounds of Plumes developed, along with a desire to have a group that could play chamber music spinoffs, it seemed a rebranding was in order.

Charnley compares the resulting new group to Clogs, an instrumental project from Bryce Dessner of The National, or Shara Worden.

Whether you’re up on the indie music scene enough to place the examples or not, anyone will be able to appreciate the rare opportunity Plumes offers to hear clarinet and bass clarinet, a reasonably loud instrument, deftly woven into Charnley’s sweet melodies by Louise Campbell, in a popular music group.

And with harpist Eveline Grégoire-Rousseau, a substitute with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and violinist Pemi Paull joining the band for their Canadian dates, Plumes is a musical force in every sense.

Charnley and Holbrook met when Charnley’s friend moved to Germany and she assumed her spot as Holbrook’s new roommate. Creating a sense of home is a theme in this work. The pair met Rousseau, who lived in the neighbourhood, within their first month living together and all have been collaborating ever since.

While their music is decidedly experimental, Charnley foresees it becoming even more “harmonically experimental.”

“I still want to maintain a level of accessibility because I like pretty melodies, but I think the harmonies could be even more out there…with a little bit more dissonance.”

Plumes is at the Armstrong Inn Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the Ticket Seller (250-549-7469, or call the Inn at 250-546-3056 for more info.

— Written by Black Press reporter Jennifer Smith at the Kelowna Capital News