My first foray into Mabachus came with late 2012’s “The Great Culling”. What immediately struck me about the Toronto quartet was their willingness to take chances and make something that wasn’t defined by a predominate label or category. Making experimental music was a badge of honour for this crew, and they refused to bow to a more popular format in order to be more accessible. And after a nearly four-year break in action, the band has finally released what they hope will keep the flame stoked in their vision of pure artistic expression with “Petroglyph”.
The band has made it known that they don’t know what to consider their sound, which to you, the reader, could make it a little hard to garner what you’ll be ingesting. Drummer Dave Foster has made a stated that the band are sloppy jazz. It’s hard to determine an overall sound, but with elements of said jazz, and including metal, progressive and math-rock, it’s a very multi-faceted and layered sound that demands repeated listens to fully take in all the many parts at play in the band’s sound. If you like your music multi-dimensional where you don’t know what you’ll hear next, you should definitely eat this music up and request seconds and thirds.
This five song EP starts off with “The Bull”. A lumbering, full-on start resembling the giant animal moves into an odd syncopated rhythm section with clear and beautiful vocals courtesy of Sandra C Yeomans. Definitely not a bad way to start the release. “Breakfast At Midnight” gives us a nice interplay between guitarist Jeff Aymer and bassist Travis Foster, both going in their own certain directions that meet in a perfect mold of what the band’s sound is capable of. The awesome drum variety from Dave Foster in the middle of the track with bongos and maracas adds yet another layer to the diversity of the band sound. The vocals continue to impress all over this track. “The Grotto” is a very guitar-forward track with an interesting picking style complimented by the tight bass and drum accompaniment. “Dinosaurs” offers a rambunctious and energetic country guitar (almost Nashville style) intro to help start the song off, which keeps up with help from a bass-heavy bottom-end. Yeomans sounds equal parts scared and defiant in her repetitive exclamation of “don’t eat me!” to the giant lizard subject of this song. Near the end of the track, the drums get more chaotic and the guitar gets more distorted. Such a flurry of distinct sounds makes this my favourite track on the EP. “Rum’s Good” has an almost laid back delivery for the final song, which helps to establish Yeomans beautiful and commanding vocal style, showing many facets and harmonies throughout.
Of interesting note is the multi-language lyrics used in three of the five songs presented, including a tribal dialect in “Breakfast At Midnight”, Italian in “The Grotto”, and French in “Rum’s Good”. It’s a very interesting approach and it helps to add yet another layer to the band’s experimental songwriting nature. Staying on the experimental subject, standard time-signatures are not present in the Mabachus sound, which adds even more depth to the unidentifiable sonic delivery.
All four musicians add their own flavor to the band. Sleek, sexy and pitch-perfect vocals by Sandra C Yeomans help guide the chaos. The guitars are played intricately and distinctly by Jeff Aymer, adding many layers to the final product (and he’s a dead ringer for Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde in certain aspects of his playing). Expertly played bass by Travis Foster gives a beautiful and punctuated bottom-end, and Dave Foster’s chaotic and off-the-wall yet precise drumming adds a great one-two punch to keep the Mabachus machine moving. And with all four players, they’ve helped progress the sound to another level from their debut, which is a feat in itself considering the material they had to try and top.
For something truly different and unique, give this band a try. With the lack of originality and distinctiveness in music these days, you, the listener, owe it to yourself.
01. The Bull
02. Breakfast At Midnight
03. The Grotto
05. Rum’s Good
Playing time: 21:45
Release date: 5 May, 2016
Website: Mabachus Bandcamp