MAbH (Mortuus Auris & the Black Hand, yama-no-kami, The White Meadows) is the solo project of UK based artist Peter Taylor. MAbH has been producing music since 2008, having had his debut on Digitalis Limited. 21 albums and singles later, 'Look Under' was born.
'Look Under' is a collection of seven pieces that claw beneath the surface, never quite fully appearing in the light. The dimness of sounds is that of a captured breath; a head, half-submerged in water - ears below the surface, and tired eyes watching the wider world flushing in chaos. Never quite drowning yet never coming up for air.
The record was made during a time of personal lockdown, through psychologically enforced isolation. The final recordings took place from January to March 2020, just before the recent pandemic set in; an all to brief respite before the world was once again behind closed doors.
As Peter says, "Being housebound due to a prolonged episode of chronic anxiety I spent any moment of respite from these symptoms trawling through old field recordings, exploring my vinyl and tape archives. I stitched together a world from these oddments which filled the shelves of my home. As my symptoms eased over the coming months I ventured out with a microphone to pick up short snippets of my local surroundings, capturing the odd busker or winter weather. But most of my time was spent listening, recording, constructing and playing keys - interacting with the soundscapes I’d constructed.
The record also contains a lot of radio static as I searched the outside world from my room with an old battery-powered radio, finding meditative tones in medium and longwave sonic hunts. I played a few improvised synth pieces on this record (fewer than usual) and spent more time in repetition and minimal chords, mirroring the square-breathing techniques I had to employ regularly.
One thing I never knew about chronic anxiety was how frightening the fear of dying really is. Fear of imminent death is something we bury deep within ourselves, only confronting with armoured rituals, humour, or irrational thirst. The shock of knowing death loomed so close was, and still is, crippling for me. Even writing about it sends shivers of terror across my body. However, the respite I found between these episodes were like shafts of light upon the wings of mayflies.
The ephemeral nature of peaceful moments, however short, hung in my mind as hopeful reminders of my ability to exist; to feel and live without fear. I wanted to capture and reflect on these moments; to have them last. You can hear this on ‘The Breaking Ground’ and in parts of ‘Official View’. I didn’t want to shy away from some of the more visceral moments, but kept a quiet dissonance to other creations, reflecting on the unnerving over the loud horror of such uncomfortable themes. These elements of disquiet appear in ‘Sparks and Ashes’ and ‘The End of the Island’, both occurring at the end of the record as a last gasp before the jubilant yet surreal ascension of ‘Look Under’. The final movement of reemergence is filled with trepidation and confusion, halting suddenly leaving you wondering “what next?” "