Here’s an exercise. Take a leisurely trip to work or just about anywhere in your city. Ditch the comfort of your AC vehicle and jump into the lurid public transport. Plug in your best noise cancellation, high def headphones into your portable music player, push volume to max and listen to “Bats” on loop. Don’t stop till you reach your destination and unplug. Let the drone silence fill you and ruminate on what just happened. That is how you need to listen to “Bats.” Delhi-based alt rockers sophomore album will lead to a lucid interval when the player stops. Everything hangs amiss in space. After all you’ve just been through a conundrum of sounds and events - from metal (In The Laboratory There Are No Rules), to experimental (Poxilation Chickachaemia), to psychedelic (It Feels Good When The Medication Kicks In) to literal sci-fi tones (Andromenda) and even nocturnal fuzz (Bats).
If there is something like an abstraction fissure in your imagination, The Circus will fill it in with “Bats.” As compared to their grunge-heavy debut album “From Space,” “Bats” is amped with intense modulation and electronica thrown in for good measure. There is a restraint in their collective madness with “Bats,” marking a departure for the maniac hysteria of “From Space.” Yet it’s ambivalence in stitching together random guitar passages and even more random tones somehow come together perfectly into one big collated mass of ludicrousness. For The Circus that is its inherent strength. The snakingly long tribute to drugs in It Feels Good When The Medication Kicks In is the perfect example. Guitarist Arsh Sharma lets loose his signature riff frenzy as he goes for gold with his tone experiments with a racy pulse.
Just when you think you’ve figured a pattern in “Bats” madness, you are thrown off by its sole acoustic ballad <Insert Name Here>. In the company of thick-tone bullies, this song is the understated antidote. Restrained, calm and almost meditative, The Circus’ risk to strike a somber chord pays off.
Producer Anupam Roy had the inimitable challenge of making The Circus sound coherent in their incoherent lyricism and mashup of tone-play and word-play. And he produced it with finesse. In an attempt to extend their same abstraction to the CD jacket, the band employed photographer Vijay Kate to shoot still city life for each song. It took a while to make the connection, but it’s worth the self-challenge. If this isn’t self-indulgence, then there would be no The Circus. And we are not complaining.
Listen to In The Laboratory There Are No Rules from the album: