THESE SUSPENDED THINGS
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 
Turn-of-the-century Russian colour photo


Eric Chenaux - "Dull Lights (White or Grey)". Eric Chenaux has made the best album of his career. After five LPs and a decade of working with acts like Sandro Perri, Ryan Driver, Drumheller and Michelle McAdorey, he has made Guitar & Voice, which is just that, just those perfect things, guitar and voice - coaxed & shattered & sublimated & splintered & mirrored & burned to ash.

Much of Guitar & Voice is unlike "Dull Lights". "Sliabh Aughty" is an eight-minute psychdelic jam, distortion singing in the wind: like Hendrix's spectral American flag but freer, jaggeder, caught in ozone and gulf stream, bedroom wah-wah. And four more songs - almost half the record - consists of bowed guitar instrumentals. These are stern, gorgeous things. The guitar(s) sound more like a viola de gamba, a Hardanger fiddle, than any beat-up old strummer. Rough and droning, baroque, these tracks feel wide and tall in ways that no pop music can; they transform Guitar & Voice from a collection of tunes into a kind of concerto, a whole roaming work.

Unfortunately I cannot just give you all of Guitar & Voice. You must order it from Constellation.

But they let me give you "Dull Lights", so let me talk about "Dull Lights", this music that evokes Perri, Chet Baker, recent PJ Harvey, Little Wings, Richard Youngs, Arthur Russell, Willie Nelson, Derek Bailey, Hoagy Carmichael and on & on. It is a song of heartache, bruise, trampled love. Ambivalence that isn't. I wouldn't mind / if everything I know / would spring and fall, Chenaux sings, low-high.

If you leave, things may happen differently
like the sound of friends and beer
If it's blue it's not me and it's not you
dull the lights ...
Let the season decide
The song's title rises up in unexpected gaps, end-of-lines. All the lyrics seem so bruised, blood running thin circuits underneath. Whereas much of the record feels very much like an inside-music, songs from a room, "Dull Lights" is too big for that. Exterior, unwalled, with horizon and air. Civilizations will rise and fall while Chenaux sings his song. Things will be demolished. His fingers dance on strings - a guitar that summons summer nights, spanish valleys, dusty bus-stops - and yet there's always that far, listening drone. Someone just out of picture. A waiting face. An answer that won't be hurried.

This is unquestionably one of the best albums of 2012. (Buy.)

(photo source)

Posted by Sean at February 23, 2012 11:26 AM
Comments

Love it.

Posted by blahdeedah at February 24, 2012 3:20 AM

Bravo.

Posted by Andy at February 29, 2012 8:22 PM
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Sean Michaels lives in Montreal. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here.

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