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Chris Robley & The Fear Of Heights: 'My Life In Film Festivals (Haiku #1)'

Aptly named, Chris Robley's third solo LP, Movie Theatre Haiku, swirls together dark, evocative instrumentation and poetic lyrics. Quirky track names and the album's long subtitle, "a Masque of Backwards Ballads, a Picturesque Burlesque," provide only a hint of the complexities and eccentricities of the album's many layers. But there's plenty of surprises to keep you guessing and wanting more.

Dark, romantic strains take flight, thanks to the addition of the backing band, The Fear of Heights, which adds a host of instruments — including the dulcimer, trumpet, clarinet, flute, saxophone, and violin — to Robley's already robust and full-bodied instrumental lineup. But, Robley and his band don't stop at traditional instruments. "The Late, Great Age of Paper" also includes synthesizers and electronica elements, offering a nice kick and a modern twist.

Traces of inventive and whimsical bands like The Decemberists and recent Second Stage artist, PT Walkley, may jump out of Portland's Chris Robley and The Fear of Heights. But this gothic, orchestral indie-pop is sure to leave heads spinning with its unique and haunting sound.

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Rachel Kowal