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Rhythm & Views

Musée Mécanique

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This debut CD by the Portland-based chamber-pop group evokes feelings of a childhood world in which fragile perceptions, melancholy and benign spookiness mix in beguiling ways--which makes sense for a group named after a San Francisco museum of vintage coin-operated games and amusement-park novelties.

Along with contemporary guitars, drums and bass, bandleaders Micah Rabwin and Sean Ogilvie incorporate strings, brass and vintage instruments to craft a delicate sound that might be called psychedelic-Victorian-shoegaze. There's a little Simon and Garfunkel here, a little Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd there.

"The Propellors" establishes its time period with the opening lines, "December 17, nineteen-hundred three / propellers strapped to wings." The arrangement employs acoustic guitar, musical saw, electric piano, accordion and Beatlesque harmonies to illustrate a haunting tale of fin de siècle flying machines.

"The Things That I Know" is a wistful look at youthful love, in which bells and strings frame a tender acoustic-guitar melody that locates itself somewhere between Nick Drake and Belle and Sebastian. One of the best tunes is "Fits and Starts."

It'll come as little surprise to music fans that Rabwin and Ogilvie enlisted producer-engineer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Laura Veirs) to help realize their singular sound and vision.

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