Best Soundtrack for Staring Into the Void

Circuit des Yeux

Critics' Picks

Haley Fohr started out playing sludgy noise rock with the duo Cro Magnon in 2007, and her solo project, Circuit des Yeux ("the nerve that connects the eye to sight," as she explains on Facebook) began in 2008 with blasts of primordial skronk. She played dingy basement shows, often armed with only a Casio keyboard, a floor tom, and tapes, but a few leaked CD-R recordings piqued the interest of the DeStijl label, which in the late aughts released the primitive, experimental Symphone and Sirenum. After moving from Lafayette, Indiana, to Bloomington for college, Fohr honed her skills, and on 2011's Portrait she veered between lo-fi soundscapes and emotive songcraft. After a brief stint with noise-rock occultists Thee Open Sex, Fohr relocated to Chicago in late 2012 and began to focus on Circuit des Yeux, transforming herself into a folk chanteuse who soulfully sublimated her noisy past into transcendent performances full of pained howls and delicate melodies. Playing solo or with backing bands staffed by the likes of Ben Billington (Quicksails) and Brian Sulpizio (Health & Beauty), she's been tearing it up on U.S. and European tours, and somehow she's found time to start a studio in Little Village with Cave's Cooper Crain. Fohr's latest and most sophisticated full-length, last year's Overdue (Ba Da Bing!), adorns its dark dirges with full-on string arrangements and bleary-eyed psychedelia—you can hear bits of Karen Dalton's junkie blues and Robbie Basho's wailing tenor, but the intensity is more like Swans or Keiji Haino. Her performances are great opportunities to confront all that is dark and troubled in your soul.