Any review of Circuit des Yeux is going to inevitably focus on Haley Fohr’s voice, so rich and powerful it could summon things. Fohr has said in interviews that she is wary of her voice going deeper and deeper with each album, yet her ambition as a songwriter allows her to pull off her increasing idiosyncrasy. Her psych-folk is infused with krautrock drive and expands around ambient loops and fractured cello. The overall effect is at points earth-shattering, almost paganistic in its mysticism.
Playing at The Lexington it initially looks as though she’s set to downscale, accompanied by just cello and drums, occasionally playing a 12-string guitar herself, but not always. Yet Fohr’s voice alone fills the stage, with its range of deep swoons and anguished yelps.
The 3-person setup is also helped by the performance’s focus on recent release Reaching for Indigo which, compared to Fohr’s other work, is focused on more intimate timbres and moods rather than intricate chord progressions. The album, influenced by an unexplained physical breakdown that deeply affected Fohr last year, delves into the deepest reaches and most unbridled excesses of her inner self. Consequently, the live performance at points feels intensely personal, despite her draggling moppy hair obscuring her face.
Black Fly draws you in with luscious guitars and sweeping strings, but then Philo and Brainshift hit you deeply with their minimal instrumentation but vocal emotional intensity. Her voice reaches its most passionate heights with just the accompaniment of the mournful yet fractious cello.
Otherwise the performance centres on the toe-tapping, proggy combo of Paperbag and A Story of This World Part II. The ambient synths on record at the start of Paperbagare replaced by a cuckooed vocal loop before a shuffling two-note progression of kraut-y drums and immersive guitar ensues. “Stick your head into a paper bag and see what you will find” – she bellows, as she invites us to explore wherever it is that this adventurous, traversing music takes you.
In the end, we reach the marching drums of the Neu evoking dreaminess on A Story of This World Part II. It crescendos to euphoric howls and crashing drums and carries with it an almost primal and world-opening momentum. The album is called Reaching for Indigo and it’s here that we get closest to reaching it.
She encores with a rare divergence away from Indigo to the more conventionally structured Fantasize the Scene from In Plain Speech. This is Fohr at her most catchy, with a guitar-vocal combo and a belting chorus more typical of your usual singer-songwriter.
It’s an indication of Fohr’s songwriting prowess that she can create such intensity in both the more conventional and explorative songwriting styles and perform both with the same engrossing power.
Upcoming European Tour Dates
25/4 at Centro Cultural Manuel Benito Moliner in Huesca, ES
26/4 at Sala 0 in Madrid, ES
27/4 at MAC Museum in A Coruna, ES
28/4 at Auditorio de Espinho in Espinho, PT
29/4 at ZDB in Lisbon, PT
1/5 at La  de Apolo in Barcelona, ES
4/5 at Kammerspiele in Munich, DE
5/5-6/6 at Donaufestival in Krems, AT
7/5 at Trafo in Jena, DE
13/5 at National Concert Hall in Dublin, IE
14/5 at Mono in Glasgow, UK
15/5 at Soup Kitchen in Manchester, UK