Chris Robley and his touring Fear of Heights, Live@Chessvolt Studios

by Landry on December 29, 2008

chris-robley-touring-fear-of-heights_02_luxury-wafersJust reading about Chris Robley – on his Myspace page, in reviews – is enough to make your head explode.

Brains like his must be a serious liability, and I imagine this small guy of prodigious talent has managed to pull off some at-least-mischevious acts in his years. All I can say is thank goodness for the general public that Chris Robley’s putting his devilishly clever mind and his bottomless energetic creativity to writing fascinating musical novelettes.

Touring with his Fear of Heights band from Portland, Oregon, Chris Robley visited Chessvolt Studios to record a collection of jazzy-country-rock-indie-moulin rougey narratives for his Luxury Wafers Live Session.

Robley blends intriguing, generally dark lyrics and crisp arrangements in perfect proportions. The soundscape is built like a well-rounded country, with ups and downs, ins and outs that keep the subconscious exploring, while Chris’ smooth and listenable voice leads the journey. Though the personalities of his songs differ widely, the net result is consistently a themed musical setting fleshed out with lush instrumentation. Chris Robley, unapologetic, unselfconscious rock star, and his 6-piece band of top musicians (including viola, pianette, and trumpet) craft living stories. The tales are spun, but he’s so connected and the band is so locked in you feel interjected in the scene.

Chris Robley – Faulkner’s South – Luxury Wafers Sessions from Luxury Wafers on Vimeo.

Centauria smacks of gypsy folk tale. My new-school ear keeps expecting a Gogol Bordello style throwdown. Instead, it continues along, theatrical with a dose of Leonard Cohen, sorrowful strings, horn and howling vocals which drive you to gather dried planks from the nearby picked-over forest to toss as fuel into the meager fire burning in the slender cylinder standing atop the bare dirt in the center of town….

The fun harmonies and upbeat vibe of Faukland Islands transport the listener back to a warm party at the beach among friends, full of charm, looking good and feeling better.

Moving on to Faulkners South, there’s certain danger of becoming drenched in a murky, dreary reflective predicament.

A bip-bop David Bowie mode follows in Little Love Affairs.

The Love I Fake comes off sleazy-jazzy, tiptoing around a cabaret ’till the punch comes with a super catchy pop refrain, the empowered cry out of a girl on top of her game, so to speak, disdainfully mocking her clients. Yep, it is a prostitute song. Check out the neat sounds that come out of their throats at the end in addition to the embellishment of grunts. Unbeatably wheedling lyrics: “I wish I could feel the love I fake, I wish you could see the faces you make.”

Memory Lost at Sea feels like a spy thriller that takes place down at the docks.

The vibrant energy, pianette, funky rhythm, wierd Freddie Mercury-ish-ness and groovy repetitive riff of My Life in Film Festivals makes for an addictively synesthetic experience you can taste and feel.

Finally, buckle up for a wacky horn-infused ride with Scooby Doo in the Mystery Machine in User Friendly Guide to Change, a number that’ll make you want to get down in a psychedelic way with Shaggy, Velma and your buddy Austin Powers, too, “…like a flower bends toward the memory of the sun…” It’s super energetic, yeah man. Quincy Jones would be proud. Also, it’s more than a deja vu or short-term memory loss – you really have heard the song before: it’s the intro the CD Baby podcast.

Listen to the tracks (option/click to download):


Falkland Islands

Little Love Affairs

Memory Lost at Sea

My Life In Film Festivals

The Love I Fake

User Friendly Guide To Change

Check out Chris Robley on Myspace

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