Shame on me. I've been feeling guilty because I've been loving Pete Taylor's Mortuus Auris tapes on Stunned (obviously!) for a long time now yet I haven't said word one about them here. What is the point having this whole "blog" thing if I'm not gonna use it to just hang out and tell people what I like? Well, I like this. A lot. Mission accomplished.
The praise ain't gonna end there, I assure you.
Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden (say what?) lumbers to a start with radio static and recordings of angry and/or chattering individuals from there a mellow groove via short keyboard loops kicks up and a rude synthesizer starts spitting all over them. You'd think they might wanna high-tail it outta town, but the burbling filtered drool enters into the fold along with a chiming bell and the mechanized crank of a log ride. Taylor skips the drop right to post-splashdown calm. Continuing to lay low, a modest beat materializes and disappears before everything shifts into a minimal dirge with metallic sawing overtop (like an actual saw maybe?). While not exactly a euphoric rise, a repeating figure of synth swells leads the listener by the hand from dark gray into the lighter gray. It's a great moment as it manages to stagger, thrust and lilt in the same breath. Beautiful to say the least, but in a modest sort of way. The tape slips down into a deep undertow briefly before resurfacing with a lurching beat of crunching static. What sounds like slowed-down bells stretch out across the cassette's hissing plains until an everchanging piano figure emerges amongst the drones. Aquatic bee-booping synths straight outta that Dolphins/Orphan Fairytale collab tape drip and swoop around, juxtaposed against the tense background drone. Taylor makes good on his suggestion as a brief echoing keyboard piece in the Black Monopoly Orphan Joker Child Fairytale vein crops up. Surprisingly, it seems like the first side will wrap with earnest guitar strumming and a woman speaking French but Taylor pulls some organ loops out of his hat to conclude the side.
The second side opens up with a barely there drone with a splash of accordion or similiar instrument. A haunted piano and various reversed noises show up not making it very far before an unusually lush keyboard (for this tape) takes control. Passing through random pitter patter, perhaps a recording of rain, a fantastic twitching, squirming beat comes together almost instaneously and leaves way too soon. In it's place though, is some kind of meditative hand-drum beat. Though I don't actually know if it's a hand-drum being used. There's a sound on here that really perplexes me as I can't tell if it's a sample of a human voice or a synth or a layering of various sounds but anyhow, it shows up for a bit to confuse me, thought you might like to know that. More confusion is on the way too, after a brief lovely bit of piano rains down, I'm met with something could maybe be a field recording of trickling water run through some filter pedals. Somehow I doubt it, but Taylor creates a really tactile, pseudo-gastrointestinal mess of a beat. I like it. Heading to one of my favorite parts of the tape, a group of foreign-sounding pieces ranging from monk-like chants to Middle Eastern dance music. I cannot quite tell if they're original or appropriated recordings, probably the latter I assume. The various pieces are occasionally broken up by rough patches of noise, or infilitrating drones. Acoustic guitar makes its return, picking out a repeated arpeggio, until some seriously thick noise hi-jacks the tape and drives it into the ground 'til it perishes in flames. Or so you think! A buoyant guitar strum returns and fends off the noise, ending the tape on a bouncing, upbeat note. It's always nice to see the good guys win.
Taylor's work as Mortuus Auris seems focused in creating potent miniatures but this tape finds him applying that concept in a more streamlined, larger framework. Practically each mini-piece has a few drifting tones and some rhythm cycling but there is a longform fluidity to the tape due to some skilled editing. It definitely feels like a whole as opposed to fragments spliced together. This is the kinda tape that's a journey (which is why, for better or worse, this review was basically written like a tour-guide.)
60 minutes. No filler. Finely crafted and supremely bitchin'.
Stunned supplies fitting "dismal paradise" artwork too. Sold-out but you're bound to find a copy languishing somewhere. If you will it, dude, it is no dream.