Upset The Rhythm presents…
Wednesday 5 December
The Islington, 1 Tolpuddle Street, Angel, London, N1 0XT
7.30pm | £10 | TICKETS
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.
ROBERT SOTELO is the nom de plume of Andrew Doig, a 36 year old serial musician originally from Peterborough, UK. Andrew's middle name is Robert, whilst Sotelo is his mother's maiden name. Sotelo's verdant world of sound is at once intimate, choosing to build songs up from ambitious layers of instrumentation into miniature psych pop overtures of genuine sincerity of feeling. Very much grounded in that particular forward-facing strain of mid-60s rock that edged towards psych, Sotelo's music owes as much to Davies and McCartney's unashamed belief in melody as it does to the uncertainty and confusion that comes with mid-thirties existentialism. Debut album ‘Cusp' (Upset The Rhythm) was an album that explored the individual in a post-social life era, with Sotelo starting the project initially as an attempt to re-engage with the people he used to know, without relying on nostalgia as a common bond. From this worthy spark of a plan, he's created something grand and compelling, a vast tapestry of songs that stand up and sound afresh. Check out his exquisite recent cassette ‘Botanical’ on Nicey Music too.
Upset The Rhythm & Bison Records presents…
STILL HOUSE PLANTS
Thursday 13 December
Servant Jazz Quarters, 10A Bradbury Street, Dalston, London, N16 8JN
7.30pm | £7 | TICKETS
STILL HOUSE PLANTS are an experimental three-piece from Glasgow. This December they’ll return to London in support of the release of their debut LP, 'Long Play' (Bison Records). Combining visual strategies, free improvisation, garage and punk, Still House Plants build melodic hierarchies scaffolded around ambiguities and intimacy. Fresh from being selected for the Cafe OTO x Jerwood Foundation Artistic Development fund, and following two sold out tapes on Glasgow label GLARC, 'Long Play' collects the group's raw guitar-drum-vocal palette and stretches it to include violin, piano and home recording. Ranging from seconds-long to seven:minute:somethings, the album coagulates to form a heady meld of rudimentary phrases, kinetic repetition and malleable samples. Experimental songwriting is rarely so forthcoming, emotive, or approachable. Still House Plants have also been artists-in-residence for the CCA/AC Projects Music Residency and at The Pipe Factory. The trio have performed internationally too, touring with Mette Rasmussen to perform at Ultra Eczema's 20th Anniversary, Fasching Jazz Club with Rasmussen and Richard Dawson, as well as at KRAAK festival.
ASHLEY PAUL is an American composer/performer whose intuitive process integrates free form song structures with a focused approach to sound and clatter. A complexity of instruments including saxophone, clarinet, voice, prepared strings, bells and percussion create a delicate palette, uniquely her own. Her solo albums have received critical acclaim being chosen in The Wire: Top 50 Albums of 2013, Pitchfork’s “The Out Door” best experimental sounds of 2013, number one on Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s “Tongue Top Ten” in Arthur Magazine. Paul’s recent LP on Slip, ’Lost In Shadows’, is a bewitching, expansive, deeply personal excavation of recent motherhood, told through songs dissolving and re-crystallising at the threshold of free improvisation. At the LP's heart is Paul's mercurial multi-instrumental style, which renders the primal wails, clunks, and twangs of clarinet, saxophone, percussion, and guitar uncannily melodic, alchemised by frank, vulnerable vocals. The deft negotiation of the fragile and the coruscating evidenced on Paul's 'Line The Clouds' (2013) and 'Heat Source' (2014) has now reached a kind of hesitant sublime.
Thanks as always for your time and attention!
See you tomorrow at the show.
Upset The Rhythm
UPSET THE RHYTHM