Circuit des Yeux – Reaching for Indigo

Reaching for Indigo is a truly impressive singular statement that vividly captures a century of folk, classic rock, and mid-century electronica

Album Review by Ross Devlin | 23 Oct 2017
Album title: Reaching for Indigo
Artist: Circuit des Yeux
Label: Drag City
Release date: 20 Oct

Beginning with a solitary organ, Circuit des Yeux's complex, masterful Reaching for Indigo is a prog opera of slow, complex instrumentation and cinematic pop. The album's twists and narrative turns are tightly controlled, written to simultaneously impress and mock a gilded stage. And because Haley Fohr is the only vocal presence on the album, the result is even more impressive: a truly singular statement that vividly captures a century of folk, classic rock, and mid-century electronica.

Perplexing, abstract moments give way to grand, hair-raising builds. The album is punctuated by moments that are immediately memorable. The smouldering, discordant trombone on Brainshift; the single beat transition on Paper Bag from a cauldron of frolicking synth, to stadium-sized Robert Plant impressions; the creeping, certain doom of Falling Blonde. Fohr has designed a brisk album of relatively long songs – the lead single Black Fly is over seven minutes – that never feel overwrought or languid.

Every chapter is fast-paced fantasy, with every song transition coming at the apex of highest tension. Epic crescendos and operatic vibrato on Philo are subtly underpinned by strings. The brief Call Sign E8 contains digitised murmering syllables, a sort of vocal warm up before the stunning performances on the album’s final act. Falling Blonde is beautifully maudlin, a ballad for a woman ensnared by the unforgiving, urban world.

The characters on Reaching for Indigo seem especially contemporary. They are victims of trauma and irrelevance on Falling Blonde, amnesia and uncertainty on Brainshift, but also valiantly driven, a roundtable of female knights that ride chrome horses, defeating smoke-breathing dragons. Fohr has written songs about deviants navigating the unforgiving late-century America, some of them containing autobiographical allusions, like her own journey to Chicago.

Whether her latest set of stories – epic and experimental of a lustful, Wagnerian prog-rock vogue – concern the author is unclear, but Fohr is at the forefront of every moment; an exciting frontwoman and impressive songwriter.

Listen to: Brainshift, Paper Bag, Falling Blonde