Guitar & Voice
CST088      CD 180gLP MP3 FLAC

Reviews
"Songs hover above the ebb and flow of Chenaux’s unhurried guitar – there’s a stillness at the album’s heart, like watching harbour lights at midnight. It’s Amnesiac-era Radiohead transposed to a jazz bar. Chenaux’s voice is high, jazz-tinged and husky, like a latterday Arthur Russell, or indeed Thom Yorke. His drifting ballads of urban lovesickness offer a heartfelt kind of alt lounge music that is irony-free... As with the whole album, considerable care has been taken with the sound, and these are bright, ringing consorts like a meditative viol group or gathering of Hardanger fiddles...Chenaux’s voice in particular benefits from the game-raising approach. An interesting example of a performer getting more experimental and simultaneously more studio-savvy, Chenaux has produced his best work yet"
The Wire

"In addition to placing his delicate songs into a nakedly intimate and idiosyncratic soundworld, this disc also constitutes the best portrait of Chenaux as a wildly imaginative and extremely sensitive guitarist... [Guitar & Voice] is full of the exotic textures and warped phrasing one may have hoped for—ripe chromatic notes dangle inexplicably, thin sustained tones fray at their ends, copious amounts of wah-wah smear and smother loose-stringed bends as drones haunt the periphery. Yet, all the while, it retains a certain poise and clarity perfectly encapsulating what is so intriguing about Chenaux. The gorgeous viol-like bowed guitar instrumentals that make up the interstitial tracks are also a welcome surprise, with their peculiar harmonic intersections and flattened, coarse inflection."
Musicworks

"[Guitar & Voice] is just that, just those perfect things, guitar and voice - coaxed & shattered & sublimated & splintered & mirrored & burned to ash...This is unquestionably one of the best albums of 2012."
Said the Gramophone.

"The album alternates between atmospheric, lushly textured instrumental pieces and gorgeous ballads that feature Chenaux's warm, feather-stroke vocal melodies... Throughout the collection Chenaux combines meticulous songcraft with experimental instincts, so no matter how pretty or tuneful a piece is, he adds compelling layers of noise and texture, shaped with an improviser's sense of adventure."
Peter Margasak / Chicago Reader

"I’m in love with Eric Chenaux’s Guitar & Voice... Whether Chenaux is delivering compelling images atop gentle guitar solos or producing long, airy drones, the sound throughout is intoxicating. Recorded by Radwan Moumneh at Six Saint V, a small Montreal apartment provided by Constellation to visiting musicians, Guitar & Voice has a sound that is both distant and dreamlike (guitar) and present and natural (voice), making it great fun to listen to on the hi-fi. I was hooked from the opening moments of the album’s lead track, 'Amazing Backgrounds'."
Stereophile

"On the album’s instrumental tracks—only four of the nine songs feature his airy falsetto—Chenaux’s bowed guitar is a swirling insect-buzz of drone notes and haunting melodies. It’s the sort of playing that leaves you wondering how those sounds are even possible—like he’s performing music alchemy. Paired with the breathy ballads, the instrumentals add intrigue to this compelling collection. Chenaux delivers a quiet intensity, but it’s no less powerful than full-scale rock bombast."
The Grid TO

"When he sings, Chenaux’s airy vocals magically, or more accurately impossibly, move mountains and melt ice...Guitar & Voice is, ultimately, simply a voice and a guitar and perhaps his stark presentation is why the connection is so powerful. Chenaux’s compositions have an intensity that is not often found in such precious pieces, but the open ended nature of the songs let the listeners consume the songs fully and completely."
HeroHill

"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...'Sliabh Aughty' opens with sustained guitar lines that are distorted, bent and mutated and may be familiar to the connoisseur of improvised or avant-garde guitar. But again Chenaux makes these simple lines his own.. '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...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 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."
Alternative Matter

"Gorgeous, plaintive, dusty beauty with some Fripp-y guitar. Eric Chenaux coaxes a strangled violin-like sound to open this track but his voice comes in, calming and a soothing against soft tones. 'Amazing Backgrounds' is reminiscent of David Sylvian's work with Robert Fripp on 'Gone To Earth' and is a thing of great beauty..."
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Description

Eric Chenaux is one of Canada's most respected and long-standing experimental guitar players and songwriters, starting with legendary Toronto punk band Phleg Camp in the early 90s and tirelessly expanding his musical vocabulary and reach in countless improv, avant-folk, damaged jazz and contemporary music ensembles throughout the 2000s. Since 2006, Constellation has been home to Chenaux's more overtly song-based work, his clear voice and erudite lyricism guided by an utterly unique guitar technique and a deep immersion in pop and folk traditions from medieval to post-modern.

With this fourth album for the label, simply and aptly titled Guitar & Voice, Chenaux has made what in a literal sense can be called his first solo album, in that the recording features only his playing and singing; no guest or supporting musicians, minimal overdubs, and a rigorous structure that alternates back and forth between longform lyrical vocal-based songs and shorter, cacophonously harmonious bowed-guitar instrumentals.

Chenaux sees the entirety of Guitar & Voice as balladry. The album's four tunes with singing are clearly ballads, but filtered through Chenaux's uniquely distorted, refracted, genre-defying lens. Jazz, consort-music, free/improv, Scottish folk, psych/noise, medieval, baroque and pop influences do not so much compete as synthesise in various ways across these four songs. Heartbreaking lyrics delivered in Chenaux's strong but gentle lilt are set against an ever-shifting array of sounds and strategies elicited from acoustic nylon-string guitar (with the help of a small but expertly-deployed chain of wah-, freeze- and fuzz-pedals). Traditional song structure and lyrical arcs manage somehow to anchor themselves to constantly surprising, unpredictable and virtuosic contrapuntal guitar work, always playing at/with the threshold of sonic experimentation and improvisation. Chenaux's ballads sound like no other.

With the exception of "Sliabh Aughty" – a beautifully fried 8-minute Hendrixian workout (were Jimi searing an Irish piping tune rather than the American national anthem) – all the album's instrumentals are miniatures of a sort. Each is a a bowed guitar piece, recorded acoustically, re-amplified through Leslie speakers and re-recorded as installation pieces in the studio. Each of these short pieces shifts and slides along a stream of harmonic consonances and dissonances where melodic motifs are continually subject to slippage, and each is intended to frame and expand the sentiments (and sentimentalism) of balladry that inform the album as a whole. As Chenaux insists, "They are not interludes. They are ballads with the same interests as the 'songs'. They lilt similarly. They flirt from the margins into the romantic similarly. The imagined strangeness of the romantic, but through a psychedelic lens."

Guitar & Voice was beautifully recorded by Radwan Moumneh at Six Saint V, a small Montréal studio apartment provided by Constellation to visiting musicians. The sessions were then mixed at Hotel2Tango. "Put In Music" was treated and mixed by Chenaux's friend and labelmate Sandro Perri in Toronto.

Thanks for listening.

Release date: 6 March 2012
Running time: 45:45


Packaging notes
CD comes in a custom gatefold paperboard jacket with the disc in a printed paper dust sleeve. 180gLP includes download code and screen-printed 12"x18" poster.


Tracklist
1. Amazing Backgrounds
2. Simple/Frontal
3. Dull Lights (White or Grey)
4. Sliabh Aughty
5. Le Nouveau Favori
6. Put In Music
7. Genitalia Domestique
8. However Wildly We Dream
9. Glitzing For Stephen Parkinson


Credits
Recorded at Six Saint V (Constellation's studio apartment for visiting musicians in Montreal) and mixed at the Hotel2Tango by Radwan Moumneh. TRACK 6 mixed by Sandro Perri.

Mastered by Harris Newman.