For an album that opens with a flutter of flutes, Haley Fohr’s (Circuit des Yeux) work is all about the prolonged tension that occurs when you stand up a few dynamically disorienting, unusual (but no less perfectly matched) elements close to one another.
You can hear the guttural enunciations of the songstress against waves of bass that seem to rise from the deep, leaving the listener with the feeling that they’re standing at the center of a Wurlitzer organ speaker. Bombastic and operatic, this album methodically arranges a dizzying array of digital, noisy, and sometimes acoustic that approaches, beholds, and sometimes even touches the unnervingly bold.
The hazy “Dream of TV” opens with a tender string section, while the vocals rise to the forefront like a jewel from some underwater treasure, quietly ascending to the surface. The track sort of erupts about a third of the way through, the next few minutes filled with somewhat unnerving, almost disturbing sound before finally relinquishing into a familiar, peaceful soundscape, only here with the vocals in the forefront.
There is a touch of the sentimentality in the concise sharpness of “Fantasize the Scene,” but executed with a certain keenness, a type of self-awareness. Indeed, Circuit des Yeux is well aware of the power of its songs. Fohr arranges the music carefully, rounding out her songs without dulling her natural edge. The folky, nuanced outro of “A Story of This World” is shiver-inducing in its calmness, with its bouncy strings and confident trills and waves of flute.
In Plain Speech isn’t an easy ride to take; it seems to lull the listener with disarming, seemingly conventional elements of pop, only to come around out front and confront its audience with stark, honest imagery. It’s ultimately a satisfying journey; by album’s end we’ve explored variously exciting, serene, textured and haunting scenes with Fohr as our guide.