AMN Reviews: Odd Circus – Mantha (2021; Good Idea Music)

Odd Circus is a relatively new avant rock trio consisting of Graham Robertson on sax and effects, Partin Whitaker on drums, and Crews Carter on bass and effects. They approach their material with an improvisational slant while still playing rock with a capital R. As a consequence, the Mantha EP has more in common with psychedelic offerings and Krautrock than the jazz that their instrumentation might suggest.

Indeed, Robertson’s sax is the main lead instrument, and yet its signature sound is processed to the point that it occasionally resembles guitar or keyboards in terms of texture and attack. In other words, his playing does not scream “sax” nor does it make one think “jazz”. He stays within the boundaries of the prog-rock rhythms provided by Whitaker and Carter, and yet manages to explore through compelling and emotive leads. The aforementioned effects are keys-centric, with washes of sound as well as backing lines for Robertson. A representative track is Amarok, with a sequenced synth line, noisy processed sax, and a driving yet busy rhythm.

Mantha is an intense and structured jam session that never lets up. It manages to be both spacious and full of notes, making it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.