Circuit Des Yeux plays a special set with strings from London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists.
Before the pandemic cast its weather of mourning onthe world, and before she began weaving together her sixth album as Circuit Des Yeux, -io, Haley Fohr found herself grieving a close friend. For a time, the loss severed her from herart. A singular, celebrated figure in the Chicagoexperimental music scene, known for her arrestingvoice and the transportive moods she growsaround it, Fohr had kept a steady creative practicesince she first began recording her ownmusic as a teenager. Grief ruptured that foundation.Fohr could not write for months, the longestfallow period she’d crossed since she experiencedher first episode of major depression at 17.
Working at home on her computer, Fohr wrote, arranged, and produced each note of -io. She wrote for a 23-piece orchestra, gathering strings, horns, and drums around her daring vocal melodies. She staged-io on a scale vaster than anything she’d recorded before, a scale that matched the enormity she’d weathered, big enough to hold the world in its tumult.
Under COVID restrictions, Fohr could only record with six other players in the studio at a time. She and her collaborators — 13 renowned musicians from Chicago’s jazz, classical, andexperimental scenes — built-io layer by layer ,entwining its pain with the clear yearning that’s parks at its dark heart. Horns cry out like terrified and distant voices from the dizzying waltz of “Neutron Star.” A spaghetti-western guitar reverberates as if in a cavern amid the percussivepummel of “Dogma.” Strings thrash against each other like sheets of rain amid “Vanishing’s”apocalyptic thrum. Amid them, Fohr’s voice rears inspace, overdubbed to the point where it becomes an architecture of its own, at once the subject in the narrative and the surrounding environment. The effect is at once capacious and crushing,like being drawn into a gas giant.
This is what happens when you take grief’s smothering and render it in space: It expands. It becomes something you can traverse. That quiet, impossible feeling of loss can suddenly be crossed. The body moves through it. What once seemed to be an impenetrable collapse turns into a site of possibility. From the wreckage, something grows, and the ruin is no longer a ruin. In all its smoldering and all its weight, it is simply a place to begin.
Tickets £18 +bf
Silk St, Barbican, London, EC2Y 8DS