Having been making music together for a decade, Canadian duo Mares of Thrace – Stef MacKichan (a jazz-trained drummer) and Thérèse Lanz (baritone guitar, vocals, electonics) – are constantly evolving their sound and found themselves with significantly less members each time a new project was forged. It’s at this point, with second full length release The Pilgrimage, that Mares of Thrace find themselves with a record of true intensity, blinding in it’s fury and depth.
With the only instruments being drum, that deep and dirty baritone guitar and Lanz’s frenzy laden vocal, Mares of Thrace have an dynamic sound on their hands. Buzzing waves cut through the heavy atmosphere, punctuating these ten tracks with a sludgy undercurrent of doom.
A darkly rich tone permeates opening track “Act 1: David Glimpses Bathsheba,” courtesy of that against the grain use of baritone guitar. You’ll find no bass here; the only stringed instrument is used to incredible effect and the sound is full, stretching into the unfathomable abyss of depth created by this two piece and their assault on the senses.
The Pilgrimage is charged with bombast and groove; “The Gallwasp” and “The Perpetrator” dominating with an aggressive swagger whilst “Triple B” comes in waves of electronic fuzz and feedback, almost alien in the midst of all that opposition. Sliding into “The Goat Thief” with a dissonant disquiet, Mares of Thrace adhere to no rules but their own. Edged with a resistance to conform, this track languidly coils around a tightly controlled drum beat, finally breaking with screams from the very core of the soul. The impressive vocal range of Thérèse Lanz adding a raw harshness as well as a deeply roared spite to a record built on enigmatic themes and the Biblical tale of David’s seduction of the married Bathsheba….and the subsequent ramifications of such an act.
Fascinating and compelling, The Pilgrimage is founded in a desire to create; pulling in multiple directions the record is steeped in huge walls of sound yet holds a gentle mystery in the more subdued moments. Instrumental piece “The Three-Legged Courtesan…” showcases the power of serenity with simple lines from the two women behind this partnership, seguing into “…and the Bird Surgeon” with an expertise not usually seen so early in a groups career. A whispered introduction is unnerving, drawing in the mind and waiting for it to crack. Squalling feedback kicks all other sounds into the void, closing The Pilgrimage with a electronically drenched foreboding. Mares of Thrace destroy the senses. And you will be thankful.