eric chenaux

Eric Chenaux, Say Laura

“The Canadian songwriter has one of the all-time great singing voices in popular music, an intensely romantic Chet Baker-ish instrument that seems to float with piercing direction, like a paper aeroplane thrown hard through mist. Backed with his equally distinctive burbling guitar, Say Laura is a perfect gateway to his oeuvre with some of his loveliest compositions.” – The Guardian


Eric Chenaux, Say Laura

“This shift between dream and reality, between the ground and a consciousness-expanding dimension, is what makes Eric Chenaux records so precious and unique.”

The Quietus • “Albums Of The Year 2022”


Eric Chenaux, Say Laura

“As delicate and lovely as a rare orchid, the album follows its own inner logic, with the songwriter guiding us through a wide-open landscape that’s unusual but strangely familiar all the same.” – UNCUT



Eric Chenaux, Say Laura

« Des «tremblements de terre très doux» à répétition dont les matières très poétiques évoquent autant la trompette fébrile de Chet Baker qu’un solo de stylophone dans un disque d’exotica ou la guitare explosée de Derek Bailey. (…) Magnifiquement instable, le jeu de ce guitariste canadien est l’un des plus précieux de la musique expérimentale contemporaine. » – Libération



Eric Chenaux, Live at The Rose Hill

His unconventional verses are stretched into long, meandering forms that give the impression

Of rambling into dissolution, burrowing deeper into dazed introspection until subtly nudged back into a structure dictated by their own obscure logic, as though suddenly startled by the spotlight. … The guitar on his knee is like the ventriloquist dummy that keeps on bursting the earnest bubble with rude comment…gorgeously unfurling busts of golden light or dizzily whooshing spirals accompanied by a low, steady, bodily pulse… Reading Ted Barrigan’s early 1960’s ssequence of poems The Sonnets a few days later, I come across a repeated epiphet that runs throughout his blunted lines: “Feminine marvellous and tough”. It’s as good a despription of Eric Chenaux’s captivating, transporting and uncompromising music as any I can think of. – Daniel Spicer, The Wire, May 2022



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.

– Carl Wilson, Said The Gramophone



Marla Hlady & Eric Chenaux, Fluff

(…) what’s crucial here is the balance between Hlady’s arrhythmic approach to sound and Chenaux’s compositional directness. “Refuge Du Domaine De Gaspe” is split into two parts and recalls Miles Davis’s “He Loved Him Madly” – Chenaux’s guitar uncannily like Dominique Gaumont’s unforgettable brokenness and bluesiness – there’s a similar sense of space, albeit a space never ruptured by rhythm, only stereo-strafing breezes of static noise that meld into the wah-wah guitar and overhanging lambent darkness that suffuses through the piece. An engrossing half-hour that could go on forever before the set closes with “PatroRoc Amadour”, voices finally entering in tiny shards and sudden rumbles, medieval drones and glimmers of minimalist sound barely puncturing the fuzzy silence.

– Neil Kulkarni



Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Slowly Paradise is perhaps a distant cousin to Arthur Russell's World Of Echo, too; it shares that album’s combination of oceanic instrumental tones and unabashedly vulnerable vocals, it also has songs that seem to be private works made public. […] This is a remarkable record - it is wildly experimental and as comforting as a soft embrace. The most interesting art almost always has a sense of duality, and Slowly Paradise is no different; where it radically differs is in the lack of combat between those opposing forces. Chenaux’s love for Sade, for example, in no way contradicts or confuses his love for Derek Bailey. This album is truly his strongest yet, and this closing song is his zenith.

– Eden Tizard, The Quietus


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Magnifiquement instable, le jeu de ce guitariste canadien est l'un des plus précieux de la musique expérimentale contemporaine. […] intensément sensuelles, qui lui permettent de faire montre d’un feu d’artifices de timbres étranges et impressionnants en toute sérénité. Ou, pour citer une belle œuvre du chantre de la musique acousmatique française François Bayle récemment rééditée, des «tremblements de terre très doux» à répétition dont les matières très poétiques évoquent autant la trompette fébrile de Chet Baker qu’un solo de stylophone dans un disque d’exotica ou la guitare explosée de Derek Bailey.

– Olivier Lamm, Libération


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Eric Chenaux gets right under the skin and in your head with the intoxicating, jazz-wise chops and strikingly classic-sounding vocals of Slowly Paradise; an instant modern classic if we’ve never heard one.



Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Chenaux sounds, in some ways, further and further from a tangible reality on this record, but even those moments sound off serenely to me. His instrumental reprise (dare I call it a remix?) of the record’s title track is an abstracted mesh of shifting tones and plucks, but hiding within it is a stay-at-home folksiness that makes me feel centered. The record’s final track and last triumph is “Wild Moon”, an eleven minute long slice of minimalism that lays down on a bed of soft, mallet-like percussion. Over it Chenaux exchanges spewed guitar solos and gorgeously sung thoughts, stray but certain: “Human love. Harmony. Come away with me. I’m a wild moon.” It’s the stuff of a more free, more all-embracing Chenaux; Slowly Paradise is made from tangled knots of the purest joy.

Norman Records


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Last autumn Eric Chenaux confessed to The Wire “I don’t think my guitar and my voice agree on much.” He’s not kidding. His singing, high and overtly emotional, travels from the back of his throat straight to wherever each listener stores their reserve of scepticism, then opens its locked door like a master key. His guitar playing, on the other hand, undermines directness at every turn. The bulbous lead on “Bird & Moon” sounds less like a guitar than Robert Wyatt using his mouth trumpet to imitate a kazoo; his strummed accompaniment on the same tune pulses so woozily that Dramamine sales will surely spike in any town where the radio picks it up. […] But is opposition really at work here, or interdependence? A vocal take of the title track prescribes slowing down when the seasons pass; an instrumental version taken at a slower tempo enacts that recommendation. And on “Wild Moon”, semi-comic guitar and a piano that oscillates between Bolero-like ardour and ringmodulated acidity set the stage for words that plead for romantic assignation, but ultimately leave alone. When the singing’s done the guitar returns, its tone so stretched and distorted that you can’t quite tell whether it’s purging or celebrating the lyric’s outcome. Are the voice and guitar together or not? It’s complicated.

– Bill Meyer, The Wire (April 2018)


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

Like Chet Baker crossed with David Grubbs, this singer-guitarist, blessed with a gorgeously unguarded voice, takes jazz into bold new territory.

– The Guardian


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

This is the organic culmination of our protagonist’s most singular travels, and he’s reached a most puzzling bliss. I literally can’t figure it out. […] guitars wobble around as if he’s unwinding the strings in real time, like in the babbling creek of "An Abandoned Rose".  […] Slowly Paradise best makes sense as a single session, or maybe one segment of REM sleep. Textures do repeat, the tempo remains a leisurely gamble, and Chenaux muses over motifs – moonlight, the night, slowly, our love. But in dreams, the repetition starts to blur – you trick yourself into déjà vu, recollecting dirt roads that you’ve never tread upon and people that you’ve never met. And you can’t tell yourself it’s wrong, because dream logic demands that it is so. Chenaux’s stumbling, then, creates an oneiric whole – a romance, yes, but casually surreal, with shaky cameras and unexplained backstories.

– Lee Adcock, Drowned In Sound


Eric Chenaux, Slowly Paradise

The title track tilts at Nick Drake and Nina Simone, while strings suggest loose fencing wire twanging in a stiff breeze and a waterlogged Wurlitzer plays. The 11-minute, Robert Wyatt-ish "Wild Moon" - with its woozy keys and extreme fretwork building to a quivering peak – stands out, but sensual beauty abounds.

– Sharon O’Connell, Uncut



Performance at Supernormal Festival, August 2017

I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t figure it out. I was standing in the barn at Supernormal festival in Oxfordshire at the end of summer. Eric Chenaux is on stage singing and playing, and then singing and not playing, but the molten sound of his guitar carries on. Then he’s playing along to his own echoes, finally stopping his virtual ensemble on a dime to sing a cappella. Solo and accompaniment bounce off each other within the tight matrix of a verse-chorus song, all controlled by Chenaux via his effects pedals. But his feet are touching them when you least expect, and the whole relationship of performer to sounds is in flux.

– Derek Walmsley, Masthead, The Wire



Eloïse Decazes & Eric Chenaux, La Bride

Attention, il ne s’agit pas là d’un disque de folklore de nos régions, tristement destiné à prendre la poussière dans un petit musée d’ethnomusicologie. Mais de chansons en quelque sorte “rock”, éternellement modernes, qui parlent d’amour, d’adolescence, de manque, de mort, de regret, de feu et de chevaux. Des chansons de tous les jours (“ce répertoire qu’on chantait en travaillant, dans les champs, dans les cuisines”, dit Eloïse), qui ont passé les siècles. Des chansons anciennes, sur une musique vivante, mouvante, à base de guitares que l’alchimiste Chenaux et ses pédales d’effets transmute en vielles à roues, en trompes, en souvenirs du Velvet Underground, en brumes et en fluides épais : inouï.

– Stéphane Deschamps, Les Inrockuptibles



Eric Chenaux, Skullsplitter

Chenaux's combination of hacked music box guitar experimentation and lonely lounge crooning conjures a spell simply too enchanting to break... Skullsplitter dispatches the listener on a mission to crack the mysteries of time and space, and without offering much in the way of answers, its potential for repeat listens is enough of a reward. Skullsplitter is a triumph of post-modern songwriting, where decisions can be recast and repurposed to suit the needs of the present.

– Tom Beedham, Exclaim


Eric Chenaux, Skullsplitter

In the field of avant guitar wrangling, Chenaux's style is genuinely distinctive. His latest is an(other) effortlessly lovely solo set that recalls John Martyn, Marc Ribot, Arthur Russell and the Hardanger fiddle tradition, as it weaves trippily between improv jazz, electronica, folk-drone and lounge balladry. Chenaux's pure, sweet voice soars along Chet Baker and Jeff Buckley lines and he's no lyrical slouch, although an instrumental interpretation of the Rodgers and Hart classic "My Romance" is a highlight. More heartmelter than skullsplitter - but just as ruinous.

– Sharon O’Connell, Uncut (March 2015 issue)


Eric Chenaux, Skullsplitter

Mesmerizing […] Skullsplitter is an intriguing choice in title for this record, as it evokes the image and idea that Eric Chenaux is a man with two brains. At the very least, his two cranial hemispheres might be operating at the same time, but never in tandem. From the left side comes his voice, pure of tone and true; from the right, the wild and wondrous sounds Chenaux coaxes from his guitars. Left brain, ordered and logical. Right brain, experimental and original.

– Jim Di Gioia, Quick Before It Melts


Eric Chenaux, Skullsplitter

Like his previous (and gorgeous) album Guitar & Voice, Eric Chenaux’s Skullsplitter is an experiment in magnetic poetry, a juxtaposition of opposing poles (namely heavily processed guitar and soft crooning) bent toward each other in forced unity, a bizarrely resonant statement of truth constructed from arbitrary strands of manipulated phonemes squashed together without regard for formal grammar […] Skullsplitter comes off as an unrestricted celebration of balladry rather than an absurdist triumph over linguistic limitations. Spaces between symbols that are normally filled in by your imagination are here filled with vivid images that pour from outside-in. It is therefore somewhat paradoxical that, while Chenaux bends all sorts of rules as he tinkers with folk balladry as a genre, Skullsplitter’s resultant conventional gorgeousness often overshadows its moments of off-road innovation. […]Although it is exploratory in terms of space and texture, Skullsplitter is anything but incidental; it unfolds like an epic poem, in all its boundary-dissolving creativity and intentional patterning. […] As a poem, Skullsplitter is profoundly affective, unbridledly resonant, effortlessly fluid, and distinctly original, even as its stanzas are often filled with thorny consonance and nauseating assonance. […] Skullsplitter is simply a breathtaking feat of balladry and engineering.

– Jazz Scott, TinyMixTapes


Eric Chenaux, Skullsplitter

Though he's credited with vocals, guitars (electric, un-amplified electric, nylon-string), speakers, melodica, and electronics, the album's essence is constituted by the combination of his pure voice and idiosyncratic guitar playing. More precisely, his music derives its considerable impact from a striking juxtaposition: on the one hand, a crystal-clear voice that glides and soars, and on the other, guitar playing that never harmonically parallels the voice's trajectory but more diverges from it with oblique, semi-improvised lines. The two function like tributaries that flow in the same direction yet possess distinct shapes.




Performance at Festival Rush, 2016

La guitare d’Eric Chenaux est un mystère : parfois elle sonne comme une trompette, parfois comme un harmonium. Toujours, elle sonne désaccordée. Mais justement désaccordée. Belle comme la liberté, comme la nature, comme des blocs de glace qui se détachent de la banquise. Étrange, mais jamais abscons ni hostile, juste beau selon des canons de beauté auxquels on n’est pas l’habitué. Eric Chenaux est un guitariste libre, et un chanteur étonnant et délicat, dont les chansons sonnent comme des classiques anciens du jazz et de la soul, mais tombés de leur piédestal, anamorphosés. Eric Chenaux est un martien qui joue de la guitare. L’écouter, c’est apprendre à écouter autre chose, et surtout autrement.

– Stéphane Deschamps, Les Inrockuptibles



Drumheller, Sometimes Machine

While ostensibly fulfilling “supergroup” criteria, their slightly introverted and peculiar collective demeanour demands a more humble tag. Operating from a decidedly jazz foundation, the group’s skewed tunefulness and textural whimsy recall Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, or Eric Dolphy.

– Nick Storring, Musicworks



Nightjars, The Natural Playmate

The Natural Playmate, apparently the final release in the Rat-drifting catalogue, is a series of extremely concise and focused improvisations performed by Eric Chenaux (guitar) and Jason Benoit (banjo). The familiar misshapen melancholy found on many Rat-drifting albums runs through this entire disc, yet amidst this sticky tremble and slouch there is an extremely refined and intimate counterpoint between Benoit and Chenaux. Meandering narrowly within tight bounds, each piece is very distinct, coming off more as beautifully-executed-but-mostly-forgotten folk tunes than as capital-C Creative Music.

– Nick Storring, Musicworks



The Allison Cameron Band, S/T

The six pieces here stand at the intersection of Cameron’s particular brand of unhurried “small-m” minimalism, the resonances and modal language of folk music, and loose dry textural improvisation practiced among her and her peers. Her band, in which she works with two adept improviser-composers, Stephen Parkinson and Eric Chenaux, permits her to realize the concerns of composition and improvisational work simultaneously. Applied to a core instrumentation of banjo, guitars, and harmonicas, her lean interlocking melodic ideas and sophisticated, decidedly leisurely rhythmic figurations, are inflected with the timbral palette of her improvisations. – Nick Storring, Musicworks



The Reveries, Blasé Kisses

Just how home-made and exotic the Rat-drifting musical family can get becomes apparent on the latest episode, Blasé Kisses,  by The Reveries, the same musicians heard earlier as The Draperies. However, Driver and Tielli have dropped synth and brass in favor of “mouth-mikes” (literally-waterproof cellphone components in the singers’mouths) and other assorted instruments, and the free improvisation has given way to very odd vocal renditions of standards like “My Reverie” and “Moonlight in Vermont.” The latter sounds like aliens have landed on the shores of Lake Champlain only to launch a campfire sing-along, some joining in from beneath the waves. An almost crazily playful form of disarticulation, it creates a dream state around familiar texts. It may be heard as an elaborate joke about the current state of jazz singing and repertoire (it’s such a treat to hear singers doing something different with this material), but it has a weird ambience all it’s own.

– Stuart Broomer, Coda Magazine