Eric Chenaux releases a new video for the song “There’s Our Love” from his critically acclaimed album Slowly Paradise. Filmed by longtime collaborator Eric Cazdyn, the video woozily captures Chenaux and Ryan Driver as they play guitar and synth, respectively, before turning its focus onto a televised tennis match. As the camera gets increasingly close to the screen, the visuals break down into a dizzying array of digital noise that goes hand in hand with Driver’s understated yet disorienting synth lines. All the while, Chenaux’s vocals and guitar maintain a degree of human warmth in the midst of the increasing digital blur. In true Cazdyn fashion, the video succeeds in capturing Chenaux’s sense of humour and creativity while providing visually striking accompaniment to this sublime piece of music.
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 is Eric Chenaux’s new 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.
Chenaux will be touring extensively across around the UK and France this spring, alongside a few other EU dates also announced – read below for the full confirmed itinerary to date…
12.03.18 Biarritz, FR Librairie le Festin Nu
15.03.18 Joué-Tours, FR Le Temps Machine
29.03.18 Metz, FR Théâtre du Saulcy
30.03.18 Lyon, FR Le Bal des Fringants
31.03.18 Montbrison, FR Cinéma
05.04.18 Montreuil, FR Les Instants Chavirés
06.04.18 Brussels, BE AB Salon
09.04.18 London, UK The Lexington
11.04.18 Manchester, UK The Portico Library
12.04.18 Stirling, UK Tolbooth
13.04.18 Edinburgh, UK Henry’s Cellar Bar
14.04.18 Glasgow, UK Glad Cafe
15.04.18 Bradford, UK Fuse
18.04.18 Southend, UK Twenty One
19.04.18 Hastings, UK The Palace
20.04.18 Brighton, UK Rose Hill Arts Centre
21.04.18 Bristol, UK Bristol New Music
25.04.18 Copenhagen, DK Alice
26.04.18 Aarhus, DK Tape
11.05.18 Dordogne, FR Secret place
12.05.18 Dordogne, FR Secret place
13.05.18 Toulouse, FR Le Taquin
23.05.18 Berlin, DE Kiezsalon
03.06.18 Labège, FR Maison Salvan
30.06.18 Poitiers, FR Le Confort Moderne, Festival Bruisme