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Guitar & Voice

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Album Review

The title for Eric Chenaux's 2012 album pretty readily sums it up — Chenaux playing guitar and occasionally singing and that's pretty much it. As a moody, woozy, and still delicate listen, though, the baldness of the title doesn't quite match the contents. A combination of straight instrumentals and some vocal and music numbers, Guitar & Voice has its prominence in the choice of instrument, with Chenaux's playing on bowed electric guitar resulting in a series of textures that sound like everything from distressed squeezeboxes to murky but still beautiful bagpipes to something else again. It's not a complete banishing of guitar-as-guitar, but songs like "Simple/Frontal" and "Le Nouveau Favori" work hard to make it seem like the instrument was never actually used at all. But it's hardly a theme for the full release, as straightforward guitar plucking and strumming surface in compositions such as "Dull Lights (White or Grey)," while the twisted drones on "Sliabh Aughty" are another extension of the possibilities. Chenaux's vocals as they surface give a soothing, light feeling to events, adding a gentility overall and in some cases further sweetening the arrangement, as on "However Wildly We Dream." "Put in Music" is a standout, delivered in a high and fragile tone that seems like a distant old ballad relocated over a partly queasy, partly melodic flow — his sudden acoustic guitar break is a marvelous moment. Meanwhile, calling one track "Genitalia Domestique" is a little bemusing — but then again, why not?


Born: Toronto, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Eric Chenaux is a Toronto-based guitarist, songwriter, and sound sculptor; he is a key figure in the city's improv and indie music scenes. He has worked both as a bandleader and sideman in a wide variety of settings, from experimental and modern classical composition to jazz, country, and...
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Guitar & Voice, Eric Chenaux
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