Fresh Stream



At the end of last month, Bloomington, Indiana via Chicago artist Haley Fohr, also known as Circuit Des Yeux, self-released her fifth LP Overdue, an expansion of her idiosyncratic, experimental folk oeuvre. Fohr’s frenetic, ever-shifting composition often eludes easy characterization. The psychedelic tag it sometimes receives with all its paisley baggage does not convey the uncompromising bleakness of her sound. When Fohr allows swirling abstract patterns to engulf her compositions, it’s either droning synth, stabbing feedback, or washes of distortion and tape collage. In her mix for Stadiums and Shrines, Fohr included songs by both Nico and Tim Buckley, both of whom strike me as insightful touchstones not only because of their respective interest in baroque arrangements, but because of their shape-shifting, respectively androgynous singing voices. Like those two figures, Fohr’s musical decisions are autonomous and personal: take a classical musical training, a fascination with outsider folkies and textural experimentation, and add the despondence of a recession period.

The first track, Lithonia, introduces the cross-section of musical schools that Overdue inhabits. Midway through the song, the gauzy string arrangement flares up and rusty guitar feedback begins to scratch the bottom surface of the mix. The effect is a fusion of baroque arrangement with the noisey spirit of guitar-experimentalism vis-a-vis Steve Albini or Thurston Moore. Fohr is able to sneakily traverse two opposite sides of the artistic spectrum, between classical refinement and jarring noise. Lithonia exhibits a distinctly American character both in the optimism of its chord progression and its association of dreams with money; “If the truth sets you free, I’d rather be living in my dreams?” states Fohr. Even here, on what ends up being cheerful cut on the album, Fohr makes clear that she is struggling with a compromised idea of optimism. In an interview last January, she talked about the threat that four years of student debt poses to her existence as an artist. There’s a somber angst to the record that feels not only valid in Fohr’s case, but symptomatic of the millennial generation of artists. The rest of the album ranges from the warbled incantations of “Acarina” to the demonic jangle of “I am”. Slyly weaving from abrasive confrontation to starry-eyed catharsis, Overdue is though and through an inspired aesthetic and cultural statement.

Listen to Side A of Overdue below; purchase the LP or download it on her website.

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