Guitar & Voice, Eric Chenaux’s fourth album for Constellation, is arguably his most comprehensively representative recording to date, unselfconsciously connecting disparate parts of his musical personality. 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.
While his previous Constellation efforts succeeded in capturing the warmth of his lopsided balladry, they seldom managed to adequately convey his subtly perverse palette of guitar tones, or his ambling improvisatory whimsy, both of which one encounters in his live appearances. Guitar & Voice however, 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. To these ears, this is a true highlight both in Chenaux’s career and in Constellation’s catalogue.