TARAB : Wind Keeps Even Dust Away
23five010, Compact Disc
published in 2007
$12.98, plus shipping
Eamon Sprod (aka Tarab) professes a romantic attachment to the notion that the world is falling apart, a terminal process only enhanced by the intrinsic obsolescence from the output of consumer culture. Yet, this Australian sound artist is not one to wallow in the nihilism of such poetics, rather he counterpoints these thoughts with the allegorical implications of his nom de plume. Tarab is an Arabic word that doesn’t readily translate into English, but it might be best defined as the ecstatic surrender one can experience when listening to music. Through installation, performance, and composition, Sprod reinterprets the physical detritus of the landscape within a hypothetical topography where dirt, soot, and smog emerge as privileged materials, in to which he has grafted the potential for a transcendent response.
Field recordings are fundamental to this creative process, bolstered by sympathetic sounds activated by Sprod’s own hands rummaging through crumbling leaves, rusted bits of metal, broken concrete, and shattered glass, just to name some of the more obvious sources. Wind Keeps Even Dust Away is only the second documentation of Sprod’s compositions; yet, it is an accomplished work on par with the best of contemporary sound ecologists (e.g. Chris Watson, Eric La Casa, Toshiya Tsunoda, etc.). On this album, Sprod presents an intertwining series of compacted collages that tease aquatic references from abandoned and overlooked sites of the arid Australian landscape. Every sound of a pipe gurgling with water is but a mirage of sand, rust, and dirt cleverly tricking the audience’s collective ear.
With its subtle transitions and evolving sound structures, Wind Keeps Even Dust Away figures into the models of psycho-geographical wandering, as Sprod explores sets of roughly cut textures, resonant frequencies, and atmospheric vibrations that are intrinsic to an imagined space and then shifts into another with its particular idiosyncrasies. While the ecstasy that the word tarab implies may not be an immediate reaction to this album, wonder and discovery certainly are as experienced through this exemplary album of re-engineered sonic dislocation.
Tarab, aka Eamon Sprod, has worked on the fringes of Melbourne's experimental sound world for several years now. He aims in his work to "recreate the interior environments which occur through our interaction with the commonplace and often overlooked." Wind Keeps Even Dust Away, whose five tracks take their titles from the five words of the album title's proposition, certainly has an undeniable, almost queasy sense of interiority. Despite ostensible stasis, its feeling of a great, broody particle mass shifting about, there's an underlying, sweeping motion to "Even" in particular which is so strong as to get right inside the head of the listener and inculcate that lurching, spinning feeling you get when you're about to be sick from alcohol. Imagine, however, if you can a rather more pleasing and edifying version of that feeling -- a cleverly particular take on the details and dynamics of electronic motion. -- David Stubbs
Tarab is the name that Australian sound-artist Eamon Sprod chose to make his own music and this is his second full-length after an excellent CD on the Naturestrip label. As for this one, it is not a surprise to find it released on 23five which is both a label and a nonprofit organization which has always supported the groundbreaking works of artists such as John Duncan, Christina Kubisch, Francisco Lopez or Coelacanth amongst others. What strikes one first here is the the quality of the field recordings as well as their dynamics. In the dizzying overture, for instance, you can distinctly hear distant waves crashing, the sound of water gurgling through a rusted water pipe, sparse metallic rubbings – the whole thing quickly turning into a multi-layered "drone" full of underlying tension... until the sound of a broken glass pierces the air. This is really impressive. From the start, you know that this album will be very special. Throughout the disc, each sonic event thus resonates with the utmost clarity. Yet, they are arranged in such a way as to appear both very close and distant at the time. Actually, the more you listen to this CD, the more you get the impression that the sounds are saying something... which is not only is due to the musical quality of the recordings, but also to the way they constantly overlap and follow one another.
What makes Tarab unique, however, is that he neither reproduces, nor juxtaposes carefully-isolated field recordings, but creates highly evocative soundscapes made of multiple and conflicting sources : be it the wind in the trees, the chirping of locusts, the sound of a running stream or metal objects & crumbling leaves being rummaged through, all are heard conversing together, in one voice or in turns. These are sound events which are orchestrated in such a way as to create an abstract "symphony" of sorts – with its own movements and variations, each of them displaying a variety of emotional colors. The way Tarab suggests the intervention of a human presence is thus fairly unique. Whether it is at the source of the recordings themselves or situated at a crossroads of various manipulations (on site or at home – via the machines), new "impossible" spaces constantly appear before our ears. This is neither a lament on the disappearance of things past, nor a naive celebration of change; its poetics is more of a "phonographic" kind, engaging us to listen and reflect upon these mirroring re-creations. After the music has stopped, my memory of it seems to take a life of its own. And this just feels like any great musical piece I may have heard – not just a "wonderful" CD in the field recordings category. In this sense, I think the title of the album – the five words of which actually correspond to its five tracks – shouldn’t be taken lightly.
"Wind Keeps Even Dust Away" almost reads like an haiku – no doubt its meaning is open to multiple interpretations, but after several listens, I felt it was particularly appropriate since Tarab’s music breathes with life, simply. It is suffused with of all of the chaotic, yet secretly-organized interactions we have with the world around us. I would also like to mention that "Tarab" is actually an Arabic word that doesn’t really translate into English. It’s known to express the "ecstatic surrender one can experience when listening to music" which I see here more as a nod to the profound musicality that permeates this work than anything else. 9/10 -- Francois Hubert
One thing that must be said about Wind Keeps Even Dust Away is that it requires full attention to appreciate. Many of the sounds are very quiet and variations in volume throughout the album mean it is definitely not something to listen to on a portable media player or in the car. With the right listening environment, the detail on offer is mesmerising. The key word here is texture (which is obvious from the macro photography of the album's sleeve) as Sprod explores everything from the fine grain of a strong wind on "Keeps" to the unidentifiable hiss of "Dust" (it sounds like rain but the promotional material insist that any water sounds are a trick of the ear). This is music I want to touch.
Sprod plays with dynamics in a similar fashion to the aforementioned Lopez. On the opening piece there is a constant drone cut short by the shattering of glass. The glass is not significantly louder than the ambience that precedes it but the sounds are different enough for the transition to be jarring. The silence that ensues is quiet indeed. The volume ebbs and flows on all of the pieces in surprising and captivating ways, it is like the soundscapes are there to habituate the listener to a sound before shocking them out of their comfort zone. The album closes with the superb "Away." Here, Sprod goes wild with all his techniques and saves his most interesting recordings for this piece. It is 13 minutes of disturbing moods and seriously unsettling sounds ranging from a thunderstorm of metallic clangs to something that sounds like a man made from glass cracking his knuckles. This piece is worth the cost of the CD alone.
I have always had a soft spot for field recordings and found sounds but finding artists that can either record sound in a way that captures the essence of the location or can use raw recordings in a creative manner is difficult to say the least. When dealing with sound works like this, it is the little details that make or break an album. Luckily Sprod has a good ear for details and brings the most out of them when assembling his compositions. The care and detail that have gone into Wind Keeps Even Dust Away make it a very satisfying listen. -- John Kealy
There's something rather haunting yet calming about the sound of wind, I guess you could almost call it's natures music or often rtyhmic breath. With Wind Even Keeps Dust Away sound artist Tarab( aka Eamon Sprod) manipulations and layers wind sounds to such an captivating and very musical effect giving them an almost mystical quality. The wind recordings are made through tunnels, over wind chimes, or just bare wind whistle or call seemly along abandoned streets or disused industrial complexes. But he doesn't just simple present us with wind recordings he composers and creates with them, layering up textures of sound, letting certain pitches streached out and drone, or ring in an eerier often shrill manner, moving the sound elements out into strange rhythmic and tinkling patterns that offer up such rich sound treats. He also utilizes other sounds as well as wind, he mixes in the breaking glass, water in broken pipes, low road drone, distant industrial clanging and bending, bird and natural sounds, sea, heavy rain down pours- and other sounds your often unshaw of their origin. The album manageds to be haunting, strange and clever- the sound pallet always active and interesting, Sprod mangers to cut the sounds so they never out stay their effectiveness, atmosphere or musically and sound impact. Often giving a 3 dimensional feeling to the recordings, as if you can put your hand into them and feel the environments and sounds, there recorded with such rich sonic detail, pitch and quality. A very fine album that mangers to utilise sound elements and environmental recordings to build wonderful rich sonic and musically worlds. I can really seeing this having appeal beyond the simple sound recording/ environmental fans- this will appeal to people who enjoy drone, ambient and something a little bit different. -- Roger Batty
Exemplary album of re-engineered sonic dislocation lautet treffend die abschließende Feststellung am unteren Rand des Beipackzettels. Denn eben so verfährt Eamon Sprod aka Tarab auf seinem zweiten Album, und zwar indem er wenig bis gar nicht nachbearbeitete Klangfragmente aus Field Recordings zu fünf erstaunlichen Geräuschcollagen verordnet. Diese, meist mit einer Spieldauer um die zehn Minuten, entwickeln allesamt ein beträchtliches dramaturgisches Innenleben, nehmen den Hörer mit auf eine Reise zwischen extremen Details und weit ausladenden Soundpanoramen. Raschelnde Blätter, pochende Wassertropfen, stampfende Maschinenrhythmen und prozessierter Texturoverload verschwimmen vergleichsweise harmonisch ineinander, während auf der anderen Seite wirkungsvoll eingesetzte Kniffe, wie beispielsweise das im dritten Stück immer wieder kehrende Knarzen einer Tür inmitten einer pulsierenden Naturaufnahme, als willkommene Sollbruchstellen fungieren. So findet sich Wind Keeps Even Dust Away keine Sekunde mit einem unbefriedigenden Klangtapetendasein ab, sondern ist vielmehr eine spannende und fordernde Hörraumerweiterung, die den Hörer zu einer neugierigen und staunenden Beschäftigung mit unzähligen, nur allzu leicht übergangenen Details anregt. -- Tobias Bolt
The second release by Tarab (Eamon Sprod), a sound artist based out of Melbourne Australia, follows nicely upon his surfacedrift, issued by Naturestrip a year or two back. While field recordings form the basis of the tracks presented here, Tarab freely mixes in manual activities of his own, manipulating various materials, natural and man-made (vegetation, stones, glass) concocting, at its best, a densely textured music that flows like a intricately detritus-strewn creek. This is heard to best advantage on the opening track, "Wind," its layered gurgling picking up all manner of flotsam, harshly interrupted at one point by shattered glass but inexorably streaming, buffeting off erose banks, entering windswept, metallic climes (acquiring new pollution?), spiraling out of sight. It’s a fine piece of music and if the remainder of the disc struggles to reach that degree of richness, there’s still much to be enjoyed. "Keeps" is more desolate, evoking an abandoned city over which the occasional large aircraft passes, ignoring what’s below; good, moody work. "Even" and "Dust" are somewhat less successful, the former replete with wood groans and quacks, awash in wind but not quite cohering, the latter a bit too dependent on masses of static and echoic scuffling, though not uninteresting, especially toward its conclusion. The album is brought home forcefully, however, by "Away", which begins with a thunderous, visceral rumble that flattens out into an intensely eerie, quieter section, the scattered, clanking sound this time backed with the ghostly moans of distant, enormous generators. A powerful piece closing out a strong recording, highly recommended for fans of the genre. -- Brian Olewnick
Releases on 23five always look beautiful, with an extra carton cover around it, great design and great music. A collectable label. They are from Los Angeles [no, we're from San Francisco], but have a special connection with Australia. Before they released a compilation with musicians from down under, and a retrospective 2CD of Gum, now it's time for Tim Catlin and Tarab. Tarab is one Eamon Sprod and before he had a CD on Naturestrip calledSurfacedrift (see Vital Weekly 422). Now the meaning of the word Tarab is revealed: it means something like "the ecstatic surrender one can experience when listening to music." I can imagine the 'tarab' for Eamon when he was recording the sounds captured on Wind Keeps Even Dust Away, as he is one of the types to run around with a microphone to capture sounds. He is actively involved in bringing out the sounds, rather than an objective by stander capturing sound events. He rustles the leaves, bumps upon metal and such like. Rather than doing an electronic process the microphone changes the sound. Location and position of the microphone is important. Unusual places with natural reverb have his special interest. Although his work is compared to Chris Watson, BJ Nilsen, Francisco Lopez and Toshiya Tsunoda, I think it comes closest to the work of Eric La Casa. It has the same poetic, collage like quality. It's a great CD. -- Frans de Waard
Again I found another myspace-pearl, namely Tarab, the Melbourne based sound artist Eamon Sprod, "who bolsters his field recordings with sympathetic sounds activated by his own hands rummaging through crumbling leaves, rusted bits of metal, broken concrete, and shattered glass, just to name some of the more obvious sources." Tarab is an Arabic word that might best defined as the "ecstatic surrender one can experience when listening to music" (press text). In my case, Eamon Sprod fulfilled this definition, as I was listening to the release with this obvious smile on the face, derived from deeply enjoying one track after the other. He skillfully managed to arrange his collages of arid Australian soundscapes, always having a kind of narrative structure in mind. "With its subtle transitions and evolving sound structures, Wind Keeps Even Dust Away figures into the models of psycho-geographical wandering, as Sprod explores sets of roughly cut textures, resonant frequencies, and atmospheric vibrations that are instrinsic to an imagined space and then shifts into another with its particular idiosyncrasies" (press text). A well described summary of Sprod's way to work. He has a good instinct for recording and selecting interesting textures and layering them, without becoming too dense but neverthless rich of sonic flavours of many different kinds. The recordings are not heavily processed, maybe little bit eq-ing here and there, adding reverb in a well dosed manner, but the beauty comes from the original files themself. Why process over and over, when the material is strong enough on its own? This makes the release so wonderful organic and you are always curious what happens next. -- Sascha Renner
Ein kleines Highlight ist auch Tarab mit seiner Kollektion von Feldaufnahmen gelungen, die für Wind Keeps Even Dust Away (23five) arrangiert wurden zu einem subtilen Drone- und Wetterdrama, das besonders auffällig mit Kontrasten spielt, die zwar oft etwas überzeichnet, dankenswerterweise aber nur selten wirklich plump erscheinen. Ebenso gut hätte das Album übrigens auch von Touch herausgegeben werden können, denn neben der durchgängig hohen Qualität des Dargebotenen spricht auch die menschenleere Stimmung der Gesamtpräsentation eine Sprache, in der man sich mit Touch-Labelboss und Artwork-Designer Jon Wozencroft sicher recht flüssig verständigen könnte. -- Kai Ginkal
In general, no small portion of the releases on 23five deal with pure magnetization—the answer by the question, continuity by the discontinuous, the transgression by the taboo. Much in line with this reasoning, the field recordings that curl through Wind Keeps Even Dust Away are boldly defined, thanks no doubt to the fact that Eamon Sprod doesn't forget to include in the scene his own act. In going through the compositions, the respective objects are revealed as manifesting and shrouding a fundamental antagonism. The chimerical objects of this fantasy lead about Sprod's desire while simultaneously being posed by it. This friction opens up a flexible and dramatic sense of time, as whistling wind ululates and proliferates alongside thin, high-pitched electronic sounds and other random noises filtered into buzzes and croaks that read like messages cutting through the borders of perception. The stirrings of "Even" first crystallize certain themes, but then undergo serial changes of state as pungent chords fester, blend, and enter into a state of degradation, an orgy of annihilation. "Dust" is made up of grimy metallic sequins that slide in and out of recognizable patterns, infused by a low groundswell of resonance, and undergurded by swirling, insistent but centerless expressive motifs. A great many contingent sounds—from shattering glass, wood groans, rustling leaves—bristle within this dense hive, filling out a panoramic space, and in so doing, celebrating the inexhaustible multitude of beings. Over the course of the rest of the album, this fresh surge of malcontent, decaying sounds and piercing squeals testify to a fascination over nature as a squandering of energy. -- Max Schaefer
Cinema pour l'oreille oder "psycho-geographical wanderings," wie immer man das Soundscaping des Australiers Eamon Sprod bezeichnen mag, es spielt mit Klängen seinerr australischen Lebenswelt und der Einbildungskraft der Hörer. Die mit Naturbildern, mit Illusionen von Natur oder einfach nur Illusionen gefüttert wird. Gluckert da wriklich Wasser mitten im Sandsturm? Braust da ein Regenguss übers trockene Land, oder rascheln nur die Blätter? Warum zersplittert Glas? Schizophonie führt zu Dislokatioin. Man wird durch Rumpeln, Dröhnen und Zischen in die Betriebsamkeit eines Verladebahnhofs oder einer Fabrik versetzt. Dann wieder in grillendurchzirptes Hinterland. Es bitzeln Bläschen vor einem aufrauschenden Blätter- oder Regenvorhang. Sind diese Grillen echt, dieses Insektengesumm? Wenigstens die knarrende Tür? Vögel zwitschern un quäken, während Donnergrollen näher rollt und Wind die Äste schüttelt. ein Wolkenbruchgewitter entlädt sich Chris-Watson-plastich über diesem Phantomlandstrich drinner scheppern Stangen oder Röhren. Ein industrialer Kladderadatsch macht viel Lärm um Nichts. Und doch sind schon Leute in Pfützen ertrunken.
Melbourne soundmaker Eamon Sprod debuted with the album Surfacedrift on the Australian label Naturestrip in 2005, and this second full-length quickly establishes him as one of the best field recording-based composers around. Tarab, adopting as a monicker an Arabic word for the "ecstatic surrender one can experience when listening to music," is allegedly interested in the falling apart of modern world, through the sonic exploration of its junk and debris; however, his flowing and emotional soundscapes seem to find a new sense of beauty, rather than depicting a miserable sight. Sprod weaves microscopic close-ups of wind, water, glass, earth and whatever contributes to a rich texture, and skilfully alternates moments of serene contemplation with bursts of turmoil, as in the storm of "Away" which closes the album. Tarab is surely working along well-established lines, and I'm not the first to mention Tsunoda, La Casa, Toy Bizarre or Watson as possible references; but this rather inevitable element doesn't detract from the absolute excellence of the listening experience. -- Eugenio Maggi
En Arabe, le terme 'Tarab' peut se traduire approximativement par extase ressentie à l’écoute de la musique. C’est aussi le pseudonyme que s’est choisi l’artiste sonore australien Eamon Sprod, peut être pour indiquer son ambition de nous transporter vers ce même état de plénitude sensorielle ! Pour ce faire, il fait appel au pouvoir évocateur de la nature, à ses masses sonores en mouvement et à ses textures organiques ou minérales. Forêts grouillantes, flux d’air et d’eau, bruissements animaux se mêlent ou se confrontent aux sonorités créées par la manipulation du métal et du verre dans un montage soigné qui plonge l’auditeur au cœur d’une lente dérive à travers les grands espaces. S’inscrivant clairement dans le courant actuel d’écologie sonore qui interroge les relations entre environnement et activité humaine, Tarab utilise des enregistrements naturels sur lesquels il intervient spécifiquement et exerce de subtiles transformations acoustiques. Il signe ici une belle réalisation en cinq parties (chacune reprenant un mot de la phrase du titre) qui, bien que se laissant aller épisodiquement au collage d’effets faciles, demeure particulièrement fluide et cohérente. Un point à noter également : AprèsSurfacedrift, sorti sur le label Naturestrip très porté sur les soundscapes, ce disque est seulement la deuxième parution de cet artiste. Autrement dit, non seulement une preuve du suivi de ses investigations mais surtout une œuvre de jeunesse qui laisse augurer du meilleur pour la suite à venir. -- Jean-Claude Gevrey