Friday, 27 January 2012

Eric Chenaux - Guitar & Voice review

Favorites-of ’12:: Eric Chenaux Guitar & Voice

In 2010 Toronto based musician Eric Chenaux (Phleg Camp, The Reveries, The Draperies and The Lifelikeweeds) released “Warm Weather” with Ryan Driver (Deep Dark United, The Silt, The Fake New Age Music band and mutant jazz outfit The Ryan Driver Quartet).  Since then Chenaux has been uncharacteristically quiet in terms of solo albums. This latest venture Guitar and Voice is precisely that, and yet a lot more. Nine tunes, many, featuring the plaintive, almost wraithlike, voice of Chenaux, accompanied by solo guitar, some, simple poignant instrumentals. Not to say that one should expect any ordinary album of guitar and voice based verse, Guitar And Voice features playing that is at once delicate and complimentary to the voice, the next searing tangentially into dissonance.

The opening track “Amazing Backgrounds” features vocals brimming with despair and melancholia, resting upon guitar lines that wrench any essence of romanticism from the piece, and leave the listener curious and slightly unnerved.  “Simple/Frontal” is an instrumental piece that despite displaying no obvious sense of melody uses the guitar to create a soundscape of unfinished, and in some way, not quite yet fashioned tunes. Whereas again “Dull Light (White or Grey)” is a more or less straightforward tune that still somehow manages to display the unique characteristics of Chenaux’s playing. There is a sense that the guitar lines throughout may be improvised, and the very strings themselves are coming to life and creating music of their very own.

“Sliabh Aughty” opens with sustained guitar lines that are distorted, bent and mutated and may be familiar to the connoisseur of improvised or avant guard guitar.  But again Chenaux makes these simple lines his own which should be regarded as a remarkable feat in itself. The lines gradually increase in intensity and distortion to finally envelop the listener who is still willing to pay attention. “Put in Music” has all the characteristics of the improvised guitar playing of Derek Bailey with scratched, bowed and scraped strings, alongside distant vocals that somehow successfully manage to complement the cacophony that those guitar phrases create. On pieces such as “However Wildly We Dream” those never ending, yet never really begun melodies are somehow immersed into the song as a whole, and it is not until one is prepared to deconstruct the song, that one realises how these should not be capable of being fused together. The great strength of this collection is that these disparate elements do combine to create some truly original and inspirational pieces.

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