Welcome the chameleonic sonic world of Circuit Des Yeux aka Haley Fohr. Her lonesome otherwordly voice is a mix of Nico, Odetta and Bill Callahan, and her sound is impossible to stuff into a singular, definitive category. The Circuit Des Yeux sound is alternately urgent and passionate or austere and emotional. Songs can be lush and regal or awash in a transportive electronic haze. Back in 2016 Fohr released an album under the name Jackie Lynn that was ostensibly a country record but featured inflections of lo-fi, psych, new wave, Linda Perhacs and Suicide. Which is to say Circuit Des Jeux-Jackie Lynn-Haley Fohr goes everywhere and does it with extraordinary panache.
This past Halloween, Fohr offered up a virtual show recorded at Constellation Chicago, consisting of 8 fan chosen “Sad Songs”. Included were an assortment of spellbinding performances of tracks by Bill Fay, Lucinda Williams, Grouper, Purple Mountains, Sibylle Baier, Fleetwood Mac…and Nico.
“Janitor of Lunacy” served as the opening track on Nico’s emotional, windblown masterpiece 1970’s Desertshore. The song was written as a tribute to Brian Jones, a friend and briefly a paramour. “Janitor” is a gorgeous, ominous dark cloud of a song and with it’s hypnotically swirling harmonium and mannered keening is about as rocking as Nico gets. Covering Nico might seem a little on nose given the similarity in Fohr’s vocal timbre, but her pipes are infinitely more powerful. On her cover, acoustic guitar replaces harmonium and Nico’s gothic, controlled vocal is replaced with Fohr’s intense, operatic wail. Prepare to be steamrolled because it’s all kinds of amazing.