Hylé Tapes 018 : "Strain / Galaxy" by Mortuus Auris & The Black Hand
"Mortuus Auris & the Black Hand (MAbH) is the shape-shifting musical project of audio/visual artist Peter Taylor (London, UK). The project was founded in 2008 after the loss of a large collection of animated and illustrated work, sparking a new creative direction. Throughout the last 7 years the artist has explored a rich sonic pallet traversing musique concrète, Gamelan cut-ups, drone, ambient improv and industrial techno.
STRAIN/GALAXY will be the 11th solo full length since the self-titled debut on Digitalis Ltd in 2008. This new work is quite a departure from the taught analogue ‘tribo-industrial drum patterns’ of the previous double CD ‘Digestiv Komune’ on S.I.N.K
CDs. MAbH has returned to decayed tapes and ventured into new experiments with piano and analogue synths. Minimal composition often takes the place of previous heavily improvised structures; yet the overall sound remains full of live interpretation and reactive playing.The
final mix resonates over various tapes at different stages of decay, allowing washes of hiss and thick ambience to creep over the cleaner synth, piano and vocal recordings. This album was an effort to find peace, to find time away from the din of residing and working in such a confusticated city full of clamour and impatience.
Since the completion of STRAIN/GALAXY MAbH has continued to utilise simple melody as a core motif to construct his most recent works. He is also compiling video of some of his most beloved places, in order to record a slow moving document, at a pace contradictory to the aforementioned chaos which surrounds him. The artwork was created by Peter Taylor, (photography, type and layout).
Gratitude to Richard Frances of Hylé Tapes for having faith in this record and for creating a spot on his fantastic new label to host it."
released October 30, 2015
All music & artwork by Peter Taylor.
As an eight-year veteran of the scene, Mortuus Auris & The Black Hand (MAbH – that’s how it’s shortened), aka Peter Taylor of London, has crafted a fairly vast discography of uncompromising artistic vision. It’s not a stretch to say that he continues this trajectory with his latest release, Strain/Galaxy, on the inimitable Hylé Tapes. “Uncompromising” is definitely the adjective you want to use when describing MAbH work, because whether the music is quiet or loud, the compositions are assured, resonant, and contain an uncharacteristic depth an emotion that’s missing all too often from ambient/drone/noise artists. Here MAbH works the gentler side of this aesthetic, featuring piano, analogue synth, and tape manipulation. He has also eschewed straight improvisation for a change of pace, and although there is some live and on-the-spot revision and world-building, it’s obvious that Taylor’s favoring melody here more so than he has on previous recordings. You know what? I’m totally digging it.
Did I say “uncompromising” was a good adjective for this? Let’s also throw “expansive” into the mix, because Strain/Galaxy is nothing if not wide open, a vastness onto which you can project yourself and every thought that comes into your mind. “Strain” begins your travels with pensive accompaniment, a dawning, a realization, and an anticipation of endeavor. Waveforms activate themselves, but only when you’re ready, about seven and a half minutes in – Taylor knows when you’re ready, and does it right. The track decays into stark transmission, but ends with gorgeous piano. Twenty-five minutes of magnificence. I have to take a deep breath, because that was only one side.
The first 10 minutes of “Galaxy” is simple ghostly piano, piped in from another dimension. It disappears into nothingness, but is soon replaced by euphonic drone. By the track’s end, you’re awash in cosmic synthesizers, transcending physical existence. It’s something I strive to do every day, so I guess all I have to do is strap on some headphones and pop in some MAbH to evolve into Arthur Clarke’s space child. The wordless voices that end the tape are the angelic tones of extraterrestrial beings guiding listeners to greater planes of being. Don’t look now, everybody, I’m spirit!
You thought Mortuus Auris & The Black Hand was a black metal band for a second, didn’t you? I don’t blame you – I did too once upon a time, when I was a young whippersnapper. Hopefully by the end of this review you’re sold that Peter Taylor’s the musician for you, the man to soundtrack your future. Who needs all that noise? It’s all distraction. Strain/Galaxy is the cure for all that.
- Cassette Gods -
Beginning with elegant minimalism and a sense of ethereal grace, Mortuus Auris & The Black Hand’s “Strain/Galaxy” released on Hylé Tapes is an amalgamation of ambient experimentation that feels nothing short of otherworldly in the most beautiful sense. Electronic purrs and whines streak across the composition like comets through a night sky on side A (Strain) of the tape. The piece ebbs into waves of harmonic tones, flows on to include resonating feedback and distant sounds of echoed chants and finally, concludes with a poised and poignant feeling composition on piano, bringing listeners back to earth from their trip to the stars that began the piece.
Side B (Galaxy) begins with an ominous hum which melts into soft, yet building piano which fades in and out of moments of silence as if the melody is holding its breath in a pause before exhaling and continuing again. The composition wanes and waxes, piano to humming synth and hisses, then back again. The album’s concluding minutes feature eerie vocalizations paired with stark hums and murmurs, giving the listener the feeling that they have lost themselves deep within the catacombs of an ancient, perhaps even celestial, deity.
“Strain/Galaxy” is an entrancing album from start to finish and is ideal to be listened to on cassette. The tape is available through Hylé Tapes in limited edition of 50.
- United Cassettes -
Youtube : "STRAIN/GALAXY [SAMPLE] MAbH - JURASSIC COAST"