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

It seems like I wrote about a new Odd Circus EP just a few weeks ago. Wait…that’s right, I did. Here, this trio of saxophonist Graham Robertson, drummer Partin Whitaker, and bassist/sound engineer Crews Carter continues their journey with a set of four tracks spanning 25 minutes. These recordings were made about a year ago, in the same session as the aforementioned EP, and will be released by Good Idea Music on June 25.

Odd Circus is an unusual combination of styles. Their main thrust is sax-driven rock played in a metal style, but without guitar. This is coupled with free improvisation and avant-garde dabblings. Accordingly, their music exhibits a sense of openness despite being grounded in driving, yet creative, rhythms. For example, the bass riff of Maniac sounds like something from Primus until the distorted sax wailing and whooshing electronics kick in. Other influences might be Ex Eye, a hint of Mr. Bungle, and the ever-present King Crimson.

While there is a certain relentlessness to Arch Nova, like a train about to go off the rails, Odd Circus can slow it down as well. The beginning of Wasteland does so with overdubbed sax drones and motifs atop a more deliberate rhythmic pattern. Of course, the track evolves into an uncompromising heavy jam. Regardless, if you like your creative music on the heavy side, this EP is a short burst of energy that might land right in your wheelhouse. Strong recommendation.

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