Extremely over the wild moon that Eric Chenaux is coming back to play London this December!
Upset The Rhythm presents…
Wednesday 5 December
The Islington, 1 Tolpuddle Street, Angel, London, N1 0XT
7.30pm | £10 | https://www.wegottickets.com/event/451542
ERIC CHENAUX makes conceptual music that’s not meant to sound conceptual. He operates among various ‘traditions’ but perhaps most broadly, Chenaux’s records grapple with the relationship between improvisation and structure in very particular, unique, idiosyncratic ways – and quite without irony or cynicism, through love. Because fundamentally, Chenaux writes love songs, which he sings in a voice honeyed and clear, while his guitar gently bends, frazzes, chortles, diverges and decomposes. This juxtaposition of his mellow, dexterous crooning and his highly experimental (and equally dexterous) guitar explorations, explodes even unconventional notions of singing and accompaniment, of tonal and timbral interplay between guitar and voice.
As a solo artist, Chenaux’s improvisation methods are in certain literal ways solipsistic: as a singer-songwriter, he plays his guitar around and against his voice, challenging easy notions of harmony/harmoniousness, improvising ‘with himself’ in pursuit of surprising himself (and his listeners) as he unfurls ribbons of voice and instrument often to the point of seeming independence, all the better to capture – and be captured by – unforeseen, intimate moments of interdependence: a definition of freedom, as a profoundly intentional state of openness, presence and play. Even within avant-garde currents of folk and jazz balladry, Eric Chenaux feels like an outlier. Yet his music remains wonderfully warm, generous and fundamentally accessible in spite of its irrefutable iconoclasm. While the constitutive elements of Chenaux’s solo work in recent years might suggest some underlying devotion to asceticism, the opposite is much more true: his musical reveries resist, critique and counteract austerity (in all its forms) in a joyful abandonment to the improvised space where playfulness and light-heartedness are taken seriously, and where love is invoked and expressed, without reductive or facile sentimentalism, in a full, nuanced, clear-eyed suspension/rejection of the cynical life.
Slowly Paradise (on Constellation Records) is Eric Chenaux’s most recent solo record – a lovely collection of mostly long songs guided by soothing, buttery singing and bent, fried fretwork. It is arguably Chenaux’s most assured and essential solo work, expanding upon the critical acclaim his previous releases Guitar & Voice and Skullsplitter have rightly garnered.
“Ornette Coleman might call it harmolodic. Chenaux might call it an amazing background. His strings chime with all those thoughts at once. I adore the way he teases out a melody, never beginning a phrase so much as joining one already in progress. The sound quivers and multiplies such that I picture his strings fraying and sprouting into more strings, weeds, nests, marshes, frogs’ tongues, canceled coins, nickel pipes, drainage systems, catacombs, coral reefs…I could pick Chenaux’s guitar out of a lineup within a few woozy notes, because it’s no longer confined to the orthodox pluck, squawk and scrape of [Derek] Bailey-influenced guitar improv; instead it has absorbed Bailey’s open field of possibility into a love of song. And the songs are strong enough to take it.” – Carl Wilson, Said The Gramaphone
“In the field of avant guitar wrangling, Chenaux’s style is genuinely distinctive…His latest is an(other) effortlessly lovely solo set that recalls John Martyn, Marc Ribot, Arthur Russell and the Hardanger fiddle tradition, as it weaves trippily between improve jazz, electronica, folk-drone and lounge balladry” – Uncut
“Chenaux’s voice expands haunting, jazz-tuned melodies from the inside. His voice is weightless, haunting, alighting on words and phrases without putting pressure on them, then skittering up an octave or so for spectral climaxes.” – Dusted Magazine
“Eric Chenaux’s delicate and deft approach creates utterly beautiful and beguiling songs. Few musicians, experimental or otherwise come close” – Music OMH
“He can seamlessly veer from fragile and lilting to wonderfully rich and expressive in the space of a single song” – The Skinny