Eric Chenaux's music is a tricky thing to classify. His endlessly inventive balladry is informed by jazz, improv, and folk, and is played out via his idiosyncratic electrified acoustic guitar playing and clear vocals. Despite the preconception that experimental music can be trying and dark, it feels affectionate and lush in this instance.
Slowly Paradise proves to be an apt title for a record that refuses to be rushed. The album's songs unfold at a languid pace, with much of its charm lying in the woozy, leisurely way these compositions play out. Opener "Bird & Moon" evolves like a tipsy daydream, "Slowly Paradise (Lush)" is a curiously meditative interlude, and "There's Our Love" hangs like that wonderfully hazy feeling between sleep and waking. Throughout, Chenaux maintains a surrealist air, courtesy of unpredictable rhythms, warped guitar lines, and the crystalline quality of his delicate falsetto which cuts through these heady mixtures like silk.
The ever-so-slightly folky textures of one of the record's highlights, "An Abandoned Rose," offer little preparation for the psychedelic slant of the track, which bends and flexes in a way that seems to defy physics as Chenaux asks "What has found me?" These psych experiments feed into the inherent romance of a record that exudes the lightheadedness of being in love. On "Wild Moon" he croons "Come away with me/I'm a wild moon," which is as impossible to resist as the unconventional, spellbinding guitar solo that rings out as the track draws to its conclusion.
Chenaux has made a gorgeously hypnotic record that feels like a genuine break from life's often aggressive pace. Paradise may come slowly, but come it does in an assured yet unexpected way. Arthur Russell is one of the few who has achieved the successful symbiosis of warmth and innovation as Chenaux has here.