Photo by Sylvestre Nonique-Desvergnes
Eric Chenaux is a Canadian guitarist, songwriter, singer and sound sculptor. He has released seven solo albums of experimental song on the Montréal-based imprint Constellation, charting an adventurous and uncompromising path through avant-folk, pop and out-jazz composition, increasingly rooted in a unique and elemental juxtaposition of fried, frazzled, semi-improvised guitar and smooth, clear tenor balladry. He has been called “a musician like no other” by Tiny Mix Tapes; his solo albums praised by The Quietus as “stunningly beautiful, genuinely inimitable, whose reputation will only grow with time.” Gracing the cover of The Wire magazine in 2017, the feature article declared: “Chenaux succeeds in generating an astonishing array of timbres. A singer and songwriter possessed of angelic sweetness and clarity accompanying himself with largely improvised, visceral guitar textures that seem intent on undermining and obscuring his own songs. It’s the need to communicate tussling with the urge to obfuscate; lucidity versus opacity; form against chaos.”
Though based in France for the past decade, Chenaux was a key figure in Toronto’s fertile indie and avant/improv music scenes throughout the 1990s and 2000s, releasing a first solo album of instrumental improv guitar in 1999 and co-founding the experimental music label Rat-drifting in 2001, which documented a dynamic cross-section of iconoclastic Toronto experimental music projects over the ensuing decade, including several ensembles in which Chenaux also figured as a member: The Draperies, The Reveries, The Guayaveras, The Marmots, Allison Cameron Band, Drumheller and Nightjars. Previously he was a core member of the cult Toronto postpunk/math-rock group Phleg Camp and the related duo Lifelikeweeds.
Chenaux’s first album as a singer-songwriter was Dull Lights, released on Constellation in 2006, and an acclaimed, highly original solo discography has unfolded since then: Sloppy Ground (2008); Warm Weather With Ryan Driver (2010); Guitar & Voice (2012); Skullsplitter (2015); Slowly Paradise (2018) and Say Laura (2022). He has featured on a range of collaborative records issued by other labels through this same span, including Okraïna, Avatar, Grapefruit and Three:four. He has performed and recorded with countless artists, including Ryan Driver, Sandro Perri, Eloïse Decazes, Michelle McAdorey, Nick Fraser, Martin Arnold, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, Pauline Oliveros, John Oswald, Michael Snow, Brodie West, Han Bennink, Christine Abdelnour, Michael Moore, Josephine Foster, Martin Tetrault, Wilbert De Joode, Gareth Davis, Jacob Wren, Norberto Lobo, Nathaniel Mann and many more. Chenaux also composes for film and contemporary dance, including a long-standing association with conceptual filmmaker Eric Cazdyn for his solo music, and in recurring collaboration with multi-media and sound installation artist Marla Hlady.
About Chenaux’s guitar playing, music critic Carl Wilson writes: "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 multiples 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."
Eric Chenaux lives at Le Pouget in the commune of Condat-sur-Ganaveix in central France with his partner and their dog, tending to a field of wild horses.
16 Feb 2023 - Saints en Puisaye, FR @La Maison Composer
17 Feb 2023 - Paris, FR @Le Café de Paris [with Ausgang 256, Léonore Boulanger]
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