Circuit Des Yeux: Vision Quest

Circuit

One-woman bedroom expat Circuit Des Yeux learns to branch out

Circuit Des Yeux is the recording persona of Haley Fohr. Pronounce the first word English-style, the rest in French. “Its translation is ‘the nerve that leads the eye to sight,’” she says. “It’s not really a natural thing—it’s just something I kind of created.”

That’s not the only thing that Fohr, who was raised in Lafayette, Ind., has invented. The Midwest breeds artists who are stubborn and singular out of necessity—that’s what it takes to transcend the cultural milieu. She started making records in 2007, the summer after she graduated from high school. Those early LPs, issued by De Stijl, articulate an entirely solitary perspective; they were written, sung and played entirely alone. Their rudimentary instrumentation and murky recording are balanced by Fohr’s decidedly non-amateurish singing, which had been honed by training and competition since the first grade. Her contralto voice has a supple maneuverability, even at its deepest pitch, and that projects extreme emotional states with withering power.

Years of solo touring on the basement punk and noise circuit actually reinforced the internalized character of her music. “I would get onstage and tap into something, and I would not even notice the audience,” she says. But in 2013, she forged an alliance with engineer and multi-instrumentalist Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas), and through him began working with the Chicago-based musicians who appear on her fourth album Overdue (Ba Da Bing!). Subsequently, she moved to the city.

While Fohr is at the controls on In Plain Speech (Thrill Jockey), the fifth Circuit Des Yeux LP is a more communal affair. Guest musicians contribute woodwinds and strings that infuse the grainy black-and-white sonics of her early platters with timbral color. On “Do The Dishes,” a chopped and looped sample taken from a Southeast Asian mouth-organ record forms a hurtling rhythm, which matches the pace that Fohr sustains through rounds of chores and a nude run on a treadmill in the song’s accompanying video. Its images of desperate domesticity, utter vulnerability and quiet recovery indicate that Fohr is thinking about other peoples’ lives.

“For a long while, I think I used writing and music as a chance to work through things within myself,” she says. “Now I have reached an age where I really want to be a part of society, and I want to give something back.”

This impulse has also led Fohr to begin working with other musicians. Despite her dismissive assertion that she was just a “side guy,” her voice brings a transformative emotional presence to the trance-inducing patterns on Mind Over Mirrors’ latest release, The Voice Calling (Immune). And on a wild new single, she and ex-Harry Pussy guitarist Bill Orcutt do gladiatorial battle over the course of four brief, unnamed songs.

“I’ve made it a point for 2015 to be my collaborative year,” she says. “I’m trying to work with other people and learn from them and grow in that way.” She’s off to a hell of a start.

“So, we got in touch, or we’ve been in touch off and on,” she says, “but I got in touch and said I’d be interested if you ever need a vocalist, so he sent me about an hour of material, and I was a huge fan of Harry Pussy in high school—I used to be in a punk band that was kind of like a Harry Pussy worship band, and so I know his vibe. It’s pretty raw, there’s not much overdubbing or anything, so I did it kind of true to the form. I just took a day when I was feeling a certain way and like ripped four or five tracks, and they’re all between 20 seconds and a minute and a half. And they’re all going to be on that single. It was pretty easy and pretty great.”

—Bill Meyer

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In The News: Yoko Ono, Blitzen Trapper, Paul McCartney, !!!, Peter Gabriel, Chills, Josh Ritter, Icarus Line, Bottle Rockets, Jam And More

Yoko

Manimal Group has announced the January 22 release of the sequel to Yoko Ono’s 2007 collaboration album Yes, I’m A Witch. Yes, I’m A Witch Too features collaborations with Death Cab For Cutie, Peter, Bjorn And John, Sparks, tUnE-yArDs and more … Blitzen Trapper’s new record, All Across This Land, will be out via Vagrant on October 2 … The next two installments in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection will be Tug Of War and Pipes Of Peace, which will both receive multiple configuration reissue treatments complete with previously unreleased tracks and demos and never-before-seen video footage. Both are due out October 2 via MPL and Concord … As If, the sixth studio album from !!!, is set for an October 16 release from Warp … On October 2, limited-edition, remastered double vinyl versions of Peter Gabriel’s first four solo albums—Car, Scratch, Melt, and Security—will be released on Real World … Fire Records will issue the first full-length album from the Chills in 19 years, Silver Bullets, on October 30 … Duncan Sheik will release new album, Legerdemain, on October 9 via Sneaky/Kobalt … The latest full-length from Josh Ritter, Sermon On The Rocks, is due out from Phytheas/Thirty Tigers on October 16 … All Things Under Heaven is the eighth album from the Icarus Line, set for an October 2 release via American Primitive … October 2 marks the release of South Broadway Athletic Club, the new album from the Bottle Rockets, on Bloodshot … Season Of Mist will release Kylesa’s seventh album, Exhausting Fire, on October 2 … Puscifer has announced the October 30 release of Money Shot via Puscifer Entertainment … A five-LP vinyl boxed set containing Harmonia’s entire back catalog, Complete Works, will be available from Gronland on October 23 … What’s Going On: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival chronicles Taste’s performance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, and will be available on multiple formats from Eagle Rock on September 18 … On September 22, Sally Crewe will release Later Than You Think via 8 Track Mind … Rounder is issuing the long-awaited album from the Cox Family, Gone Like The Cotton, on October 23 … Half Japanese’s Jad Fair & Jason Willett have announced their forthcoming album as a duo, The Greatest Power, which will be available September 8 via Dymaxion Groove … A six-CD deluxe boxed set featuring previously unreleased concert performances by the Jam, Fire And Skill: The Jam Live, will be released by UMe/Polydor on October 30.

—Emily Costantino

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From The Desk Of Failure: The Nerves Before The Storm

Failure’s new album, The Heart Is A Monster, is an unexpected surprise. After a two-decade absence and a parade of band/side projects, guitarist/vocalist Ken Andrews, bassist/vocalist Greg Edwards and drummer Kellii Scott reconvened to follow up 1996’s critically acclaimed and commercially ignored Fantastic Planet. Monster sounds contemporarily fresh, and yet still feels like a logical next step 19 years after its predecessor. Failure will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.

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Scott: Playing live, and playing well live, is one of the greatest 60 or so minutes I will ever live. I adore it, I live for it, but the 20 or so minutes leading up to showtime are excruciting. Easily the most uncomfortable and anxiety riddled moments of my life today. I’ve tried everything from life-ruining drugs and booze to meditation and even sleeping up until the moment before getting onstage. Not one crazy idea has ever helped, and I can’t truly explain why I still experience these moments after doing this for such a long time. My only consolation is that it goes away after about 30 seconds of playing. I will say, though, as much as I hate how uncomfortable it briefly makes me feel, I don’t believe I would have the desire to play if I didn’t experience it. Oh, by the way, I believe some people call it fear.

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Essential New Music: The Fall’s “The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall,” “The Wonderful And Frightening Escape Route To The Fall,” “This Nation’s Saving Grace” And “Schtick: Yarbles Revisited”

Fall

Four vinyl reissues from the Fall cast a critical eye on Thatcher-era England

They were named for a Camus novel; their biggest influences include Can, the Velvets, Captain Beefheart and horror-fiction writers such as H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe; their only constant member once said, “If it’s me and your granny on bongos, then it’s the Fall!” If there is an illustration of “difficult” in the universal dictionary, it is of notorious Mancunian crank Mark E. Smith, a guy whose prolific band (in whichever guise over its four-decade-plus run) has released more than 30 proper studio albums.

Two of these—plus flotsam and jetsam from the group’s fertile 1984-’85 period—have now been reissued on vinyl, and serve as a terrific reminder of a collective at the very top of its (admittedly jagged) form. The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall and its companion piece, The Wonderful And Frightening Escape Route To The Fall (adding a contemporaneous EP), mark the group’s leap to Beggars back in the day, and signal a huge step forward creatively. Tracks like “c.r.e.e.p.” pierce pop with a poison arrow; “Disney’s Dream Debased” is a dissonant cousin of early Psych Furs; “Elves” is essentially a piss-take on the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Smith met his then-wife Brix touring the U.S. around this time, and the two began a songwriting collaboration that pushed them further toward the pop wars’ Eastern Front.

This Nation’s Saving Grace stands as the group’s high-water mark, both critically and creatively. It’s a snarling, socialist beast of an album that—along with its sidekick Schtick: Yarbles Revisited—zigs between classic Fall ragers (“Gut Of The Quantifier,” “Barmy”), singles majoring in sarcasm (“Cruiser’s Creek,” “Couldn’t Get Ahead”) and some experiments (“Paintwork,” which features a section accidentally erased on tape by Smith), yet nonetheless streets ahead of most contemporaries. Smith never met a British character he couldn’t assassinate; these four releases place the lacerated remains of 1980s Middle England out in the middle of the road, right where he originally ran them down.

—Corey duBrowa

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Normal History Vol. 332: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“How many folks here have been engaged in social change work and have experienced either themselves or other people burn out? Holy, a lot of people.” – Harsha Walia, from the video “Connecting The Heart And Mind”

“Nobody’s Asking” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):

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From The Desk Of Failure: Virtuosity

Failure’s new album, The Heart Is A Monster, is an unexpected surprise. After a two-decade absence and a parade of band/side projects, guitarist/vocalist Ken Andrews, bassist/vocalist Greg Edwards and drummer Kellii Scott reconvened to follow up 1996’s critically acclaimed and commercially ignored Fantastic Planet. Monster sounds contemporarily fresh, and yet still feels like a logical next step 19 years after its predecessor. Failure will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on them.

NeilYoung

Edwards: Sucked soulless. Recently, someone very close to me, too close in fact to even mention, pointed out guitar break number two on “Vampire Blues” by Neil Young, from On The Beach. Right from about 3:10—but listen to the whole song. “Good times are coming.” The cutest most deranged cripple of a guitar solo I’ve ever heard.

Video after the jump.

Read More »

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Film At 11: BC Camplight

In January, BC Camplight released his third full-length album, How To Die In The North, via Bella Union. The LP was met with both critical acclaim and positive fan reception. Now, BC Camplight has issued a new clip for “Grim Cinema.” The video itself is a montage of movie clips that seem to be critiquing gender roles within the world of cinema, with most of the women shown as oversexualized objects and the men being there to protect them. Check it out below.

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Vintage Movies: “High Sierra”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’00s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

HighSierra

High Sierra (1941, 100 minutes)

Humphrey Bogart, about to turn 42, got second billing to Ida Lupino in film noir gem High Sierra. It was the last time he’d play second banana to anyone. His breakthrough performance as ex-con Roy Earle paved the way for every Bogey classic yet to come, from The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca to The African Queen and The Caine Mutiny. Only George Clooney, in recent years, has approached such a middle-aged bonanza.

The gates to Mossmoor Prison swing open and Roy Earle walks out, a free man. A mug in a battered coupe opens the car door for the pardoned man. “I was gettin’ kinda worried, Earle. Been waitin’ for over an hour.” Earle looks around and takes a deep breath. “I been waitin’ too—over eight years!” he says. “The park’s down there, ain’t it?” “The park? Say, Earle, you feelin’ all right?” Earle gazes up toward the blue sky and says, “I will be, soon as I make sure that grass is still green and the trees are still growin.'”

Earle heads straight for Big Mac’s place to get connected for some work. “Where’s Big Mac?” he barks at a face he doesn’t know. “Gone to California. I’m running things from this end now,” says a guy in a three-piece suit. “Who are you?” demands Earle. “I’m Jake Kranmer,” the man replies. “Copper, ain’t ya?” snarls Earle. “Used to be. I resigned,” says Kranmer (Barton MacLane). “Don’t worry about me. Mac wants you to start for California right away. The car downstairs is yours.”

“What’s the set-up?” asks Earle warily. “Tropico Springs, the richest little resort town in the world, they say. The hotel there gets all the sugar, and you’re gonna knock it off,” says Kranmer. “Am I?!” demands Earle. “Listen, Earle, you’re workin’ for Mac now. He calls the tune and you dance to it.” Earle takes the car keys, an envelope of cash and a map from Kranmer, then slaps him viciously twice across the face and slowly walks from the room, never looking back.

As Earle crosses into California behind the wheel of a ’38 Plymouth Deluxe coupe he begins to overtake an ancient Model T with three occupants, traveling at a snail’s pace. The old man behind the wheel suddenly veers to the left as a jack rabbit jumps into the road. Earle manages to avoid a certain collision by driving into hardscrabble beyond the road’s edge. He pulls into Ed’s Last Chance For 50 Miles filling station, followed soon by the Model T. “Wow, we made it!” says the old man to Earle. “I’d sure like to shake your hand, sir. I kinda lost my head back there, but you saved our bacon.” Grinning broadly, Earle shakes the old-timer’s hand and says, “I saved my own bacon, too.”

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MP3 At 3PM: Noon:30

Noon30

Noon:30 is offering up a free download of “Gun,” which comes from its latest EP, Finding Release. “Gun” is a weird, slow-building song that starts with a subdued vocal line atop a subtle groove and ends in chaos and schizophrenic noise. Noon:30, composed of songwriters Aissa and Blue, seems to be building toward something grand with “Gun.” Download it below.

“Gun” (download):

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Essential New Music: Yonder Mountain String Band’s “Black Sheep”

YMSB

Combining punk and bluegrass seems like a harebrained idea, but maybe not so far-fetched for a band that started performing 17 years back as the Bluegrassholes. The boys and girl in Yonder Mountain grew up on punk and metal, and found that the faster-than-light shredding of traditional bluegrass wasn’t that far from the adrenalized rush of punk. On Black Sheep, Buzzcocks hit “Ever Fallen In Love” is taken at a blazing tempo that honors both traditions, although the harmonies and solos are more bluegrass than punk.

The album combines the band’s rowdy acoustic picking with a rock feel that will appeal to folks who wouldn’t dream of attending a bluegrass show. Other standouts include the soulful R&B of “Love Before You Can’t,” the slow bluesy “Annalee” and extended jams like “Around You” and “Drawing A Melody,” tunes that let the band members show off their considerable chops.

—j. poet

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