Monday, July 23, Casa del Popolo
One of those quiet nights at the Casa where the room sat completely empty until the minute before it was packed near to capacity. A full room on Monday for MiSR, Le Fruit Vert, and Eric Chenaux. MiSR found Radwan Moumneh (seated, wearing sunglasses) on mandolin, Jessica Moss (up font and standing) on violin, and (forgive me) a third on a floor tom. The trio played a single piece, starting rhythmically and quiet, slowly building into percussion, and ending with a sparse group acapella.
Le Fruit Vert features former CKUT music director Andrea-Jane Cornell and Marie-Douce (of Pas Chic Chic, others) facing off on a near-total-dark casa stage. For those familiar with Cornell’s other musical exploits, this performance was particularly exciting as the duo ventured into decidedly more… tonal waters. Chanting, churning, and overlapping vocal melodies fought break against slow, measured chest-ringing bass hits and the dark stirrings of Marie-Douce’s organs. Other sounds: the pair wore bells on their heads. Andrea-Jane was obviously conducting some other unidentifiable spectral sonic daemonry from an immense pedal-spread on the floor.
The night finished with Eric Chenaux (seated next to a chair bearing his effects pedals). He switched between a heavy hollow-body electric guitar and a smaller classical, but with both he laid out distinctive and simple songs (mostly, from what I can tell, from or in the style of his newest release Guitar & Voice, out now on Constellation). Simple is perhaps not the best word considering Chenaux’s songs were sprawling—meditative and tense tracks that often featured 5-10 minutes guitar interludes. To pull off such… adventurous guitar riffing (this blog-poster having seen even the likes of Dinosaur JR’s J Mascis fall very short on a similar seated fuzzed-out riffing odyssey) is a feat in and of itself, but to see Chenaux play crescendos up and down the neck with the evocative emotional gut punch of a Really Good violinist was something else entirely.
Barely moving, and with the mic a few inches further than normal away from his face, Chenaux played quietly, but had no trouble being heard over the rapt crowd. What a voice! I had heard of his involvement with fellow by-way-of-Toronto Constellation artist Sandro Perri, and the similarities are definitely there (but, oh look, a young Chenaux playing post-punk, a bit of a head-turner as well…).
All ’round: one of the better shows I’ve had the pleasure of attending in quite a while. Watch out for Le Fruit Vert’s immanent debut tape on Los Discos Enfantasmes as well as Eric Chenaux dates in Ontario and Quebec this summer.