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TARAB : Take All The Ships From The Harbour, And Sail Them Straight Into Hell
23five014, Compact Disc

Dusted Magazine
August 2009

Like any fiction writer worth a damn, Eamon Sprod (a.k.a. Tarab) is a good liar. He takes what is familiar to us - field grabs of domestic, urban, and natural sounds - and distorts, heightens, and intensifies them until what was recognizable becomes strange yet still resonant with truth. He uses simple means - microphone placement, subtle manual manipulation of the environment and some careful editing - to create his extended compositions. His third full length recording, the cumbersomely and cryptically titled Take All the Ships From the Harbour and Sail Them Straight Into Hell, should put him at the forefront of the rapidly developing (and increasingly crowded) field recording scene. It also suggests that "field recordings" is becoming a dull tool for the job of describing what artists like Sprod and the roster of the Compost and Height download label are working at, a souped-up hybrid of musique concrète and field recording. 
     
Like much work in the hybrid, Take all the ships..., a 55 minute suite of environmental sound, is drawn from a few specific places (in this case, Angel Island, a deserted military base turned national park), but is not really meant to be about that place. Instead, it is a layered series of sonic events that act as metaphors. The dominant mood here is bleak and overcast, and certain motifs recur: wind howling and whistling through pipes, ice cracking and tinkling, shortwave radio transmissions, the complaint of metal being scrapped and twisted, booming reverb that seemingly has no source. The sounds become signifiers of desolation, solitude, a creeping sense of life that has no human presence. 
     
This metaphorical approach moves the result into fictive, often surreal territory, but, like G*Park, Sprod’s recording method is austere but meticulous. This means that his sounds retain plenty of natural reverb and keep their stochastic character. They hold the interest even when the inevitable lulls in activity set in, those moments when the piece feels more episodic than fully developed. But in their precision and ability to evoke tactile images, Sprod’s sounds are powerful ones, reminiscent of what Tod Dockstader has said about the sounds he preferred: "“I like to have edges. Sound to me is always very physical. I can feel, not just hear it. It has personality. It has weight, proportion. It’s like I can pick it up and hold it." The sounds are masked, but not abstracted. They are the kind of lies you want to believe. -- Matthew Wuethrich


Brain Dead Eternity
August 2009

A claimant for the top spots in the artistic area where acoustically stimulating communiqués exploit the interaction linking a specific environment and the objects that furnish it, Australian Eamon Sprod (Tarab) recorded the basics for his new record in regions of the globe that are both pretty close and very distant from where he’s based. In the latter case the zone in question is Angel Island, in the bay of San Francisco, which initially used to lodge an immigration center, then became an American military base, and today is managed by the US National Park Service. The remnants of what once were buildings stuffed with anguishing truths are decaying in silence; that’s exactly the kind of setting this man needs to create. 

The lack of human presence is a too-heavy burden for the average soul to resist to, and I’ve often wondered what people who usually talk ad infinitum might receive from an opus like this, in which the most recurrent incidence is a sort of hushed resonance, in between a ghoul-infested hall and an abandoned warehouse that only a desperate somebody enters, expecting to unearth something “useful” amidst dumped materials and rotting debris. Past glories gone, nonexistent future, worn-to-shreds existences, yet a still strong dignity imbued with a special type of holiness. Concepts that quickly find their way across the psyche as one listens to these forlorn echoes, a crushingly desolate aural ambiance just rarely pierced by ruthless clanging abrasions, or enhanced by other kinds of crackling and hissing matters; sounds that progressively discover an accommodation in the deepest meanders of the brain causing an unusual intoxication, not obeying to the desire of distancing ourselves from a contemptible reality. 
     
Is it the wind, or a poisonous gas? Are those whispering insufflations the last calls to observe the world’s leftovers before they definitively disappear? As soon as a powerful rumble is heard from a long distance we hold our breath, trying to virtually grasp the nature of that place and blow that vision away, ashes of meaning in the sea of ignorance. The sensitive listener remains silently waiting for more of those moments, in the vain hope of being led through a path of comfort. It doesn’t work, the frequencies of tarnished rational mechanisms and the reverberations of individual negligence sticking painful needles in the flesh of illusory beliefs. 
     
 Probably this is the best documentation released by Tarab until now: marvelously unsolvable, deeply affecting, incomprehensible for the populace, evolutionally constructive. Set aside a good chunk of your time and concentrate when listening, prior to even attempting to speak. It takes a while for this 56-minute piece to sink in; when it happens, a small fraction of enlightenment has been achieved. It corresponds to the awareness that the end is near, right behind the gate many herds are confidently, pretentiously, anticipating to traverse, childish victims of an absolute joke. There’s no need to be afraid, though: when the mind is not working anymore having reached its expiry date, hollowness suddenly stops spreading, and the cosmos breathes a little better. Transformed energy does not rant about god, but contributes to the propagation of a massive vibration. -- Massimo Ricci 


Scrapyard Forecast
August 2009

Junk, dirt, dust, scratching things, found things, decay. This is the Australian based Eamon Sprod's third album, the follow up to 'wind keeps even dust away' also released by 23five in 2007. It seems Sprod has come a long way since then as somehow his music has become even sparser and even more focused. The focus seems to lie more in the urban landscape and not the rural like his last effort. Less flaking branch bark and flickering fires, more rusted metal scrapes (!) and mass rejected commercial detritus. Though there are moments of what could only be the result of isolated nature walks. I love this man's work. It's so peaceful and completely mind enveloping and he always seems to capture many different worlds of sound, as if he's taking us on a journey to all his favourite adolescent stomping grounds, but we get to experiencing it through years of wear and tear. Eventually, a windswept drone fills the spaces between the scrapes, blurring and dulling the sharp edges. Very nice. For fans of anything to do with the the tactile or discarded. Organum, Coelacanth, Small Cruel Party. -- Adrian Dziewanski


Textura
August 2009

Though it's also a single-track composition, Tarab's Take All the Ships from the Harbour, and Sail them Straight into Hell... leaves little doubt as to how Sprod feels about mankind's habit of soiling the natural world with its creations. In place of a relentless sound mass that slowly diminishes in intensity, Tarab's piece alternates between quieter sequences of rustlings, creaks, and footsteps and louder episodes where heavy pieces of metal grind against one another. Field recordings figure heavily in the Melbourne-based sound artist's composition, with many of its sounds originating from Angel Island (a one-time Nike Missile site for the US military) in the San Francisco Bay area. Though Sprod arranges and layers the material with care and circumspection, he does so without altering the naturalistic character of the sounds themselves, and consequently the ease with which they can be identified helps keep the listener engaged throughout the fifty-five-minute piece (toy instruments and found objects are also used as sound sources). Cavernous whistles, rumbles, creaks, distant voices, water churning, winds, animal noises (pigs, ducks), and rattling surface during the piece's ebb and flow, before the materials swell into a collective, water-drenched crescendo. Listening to the recording is much like sitting on a dockside bench with your eyes closed, taking in the comings and goings of ships and all the rest of a typical day's sounds at the harbour, and then hearing them played back in an edited, hour-long form.


Bagatellen
August 2009

Oscillation, metal scraping on metal, dragged, large space, little sounds, pushing and pulling, drawing sounds from a well, giving way to a larger atmosphere, looks upwards, the movements made in the space, following ears and eyes, sense of touch, crunching and crackling, ebbs and flows, capturing dead industry, utilising abnormal machinery, thousands of automatons, mechanical insects, strata of life, the industry and the soil, breeds intrigue, 7:07, gives way to gradual silence, the reverberation of fricative liquids and solids, what has been, starts up, as if the mechanical insects are building from scratch the sounds of the distant sea, playing derelict objects, creating imagery that conjures their original purpose, beautiful hyperbolic crackles, 10:10, white noise, a switch to real insects, are they insects? Evolution of sound material, insects oscillating like drones reminiscent of the discs commencement, entomophobia, tunnels, passed out, miasma, life above, next layer, clamour of the upper levels seeping onto your skull, down the indented walls, are sounds coming towards you or are you going towards the sounds? Reoccurring crunching, heard with your eyes, realignment, looking up, again an open manhole cover, sparks of electricity hitting the dead concrete, what is the equivalent auditory terminology of a silent film? Relief 21:24, auditory storyboard, light, humorous, head sinking into a record player, intensely natural transition, each facet of each atmosphere is so real, so much so, it becomes harder and harder to quiet your mind, the thousands of imagistic unions.
     
Album cover acts as a graphic score. 
     
Wind drenched landscape, recorded through a bottle, through a wall, a vacuum, the outside world heard through a beehive, inside out, complementarity, ectosymbiosis, felt through the senses of bacteria, auditory ecotone, saline meets fresh, attracting new life, ancient vessels rotting inside the whale, hulls rubbing against its rib bones, the blow hole of the whale creating a cyclic push and pull, enhancing the decay and rot, infrasound made audible, croaking beams, vast unseen patterns, microcosm of said images returning overhead, positive feedback, a fugue of micro and macro, each continually altering the others perspective, 37:02, torrential rain ends the story, drowning out all traces, leaving no remnants, an empty stomach to be filled with pistol shrimp, filters, a flock of birds heard through a wooden leg, temperature ebbs, ravenous birds dig at your feet, slowly engulfing. Listening through a tube whilst inside a tube, auditory retraction, cymatics, shapes form inside the tubes, sharp, a mended ear, feedback system, correlating information all over a series of circuits, receive as soon as send as soon as receive until such meanings are non-existent, roofs of the circuit in flux, naive realism, everywhere at once, vacant estates, drawing breath, a slow night, enclosed in a box, no ears, lead snow. -- Patrick Farmer


The Sound Projector
July 2009

Tarab has no qualms about urban decay, however. He ends up using the very fabric of rotting cities to make music, as you will hear on Take All Of The Ships From The Harbour, and Sail Them Straight To Hell. This Melbourne-based artist made site-specific recordings in Angel Island in San Francisco, a zone with a lot of interesting 20th-century history but now apparently somewhat neglected. Combining his recordings with other similar recordings from Australia, Tarab has captured a mood and an atmosphere rather than documenting actual sounds of flaking plaster and rusting nails (although there may be some metal girders groaning in protest somewhere on this record). In like manner, C M von Hausswolff, Christopher McFall and Marc Behrens have each in their time exhibited a similar unhealthy fascination with deserted once-thriving urban areas, and like Tarab have brought some sort of melancholy, desolate process-art out of the experience.


Dark Entries
July 2009 

Wanneer je album slechts één nummer bevat van bijna een uur lang, dan kan het maar beter verdomd goed zijn. In dit geval is het gewoon goed in zijn genre, doch geen echte uitschieter. Het genre noemt 'avantgarde' en de muziek bestaat uit één lange mix van veldopnamen en manipulaties daarvan. Best wel onderhoudend, maar ik ben toch blij dat er bij wijze van meerwaarde een uitleg bij hoort. Eamon Sprod / Tarab ging op zoek naar enige plaatsen waar de mens ooit geweest is, maar die hij reeds lang achter zich heeft gelaten. Wat er nog staat zijn lege verroeste barakken, achtergelaten zwerfvuil, niet meer gebruikte installaties e.d. ... Het schoolvoorbeeld van hoe de mens een nestbevuiler is en zijn nest na een tijdje achterlaat. Denk aan woorden als 'desolaat' en uitdrukkingen als 'Door God vergeten'. Voor dit album deed Tarab vooral veldopnamen op desolate en door God vergeten Angel Island voor de kust van San Francisco, ooit een immigrantenquarantaine, daarna een marinebasis met kernkoppen en nu een Nationaal Park. Met zijn opnamen en enige 'objects trouvées' nestelde Tarab zich in z'n studio om dit verrassend afwisselende, half organische half elektrische klanklandschap te maken. Het geduld van wie de volledige rit uit zit kan beloond worden... Misschien ook een idee: laat deze CD een hele nacht op repeat spelen in uw huis. Wedden dat inbrekers het eerst in hun broek doen alvorens hun geluk te gaan beproeven bij de buren?


Monsieur Delire
July 2009 

Ë premire écoute (plutôt distraite, a bouge beaucoup ici aujourd'hui), voilà un disque d'art sonore particulirement intéressant. L'ouverture (un boum issu des profondeurs de fréquences en flottement) est saisissante. Une composition lente et minutieuse de textures métalliques et aquatiques. Mais ce n'est pas du drone. C'est plutôt prs de la musique électroacoustique ou de l'art sonore d'un Daniel Menche ou mme d'un John Duncan. Je dois absolument le réécouter dans des conditions parfaites. Je flaire la perle –– Francois Couture


Octopus 
July 2009

Artiste sonore autant préoccupé par des considérations écologiques militantes que par l'édification d'une musique de drone puissante et organique, Tarab (aka Eamon Sprod) a joint l'utile et l'agréable sur cet album au titre virulent. Puisant ses sources dans des field recordings extrmement environnementalistes (bruit de vents, crissements d'insectes dans le sable) ou dans la manipulation d'objets lourds, de pices métalliques notamment, Tarab les transpose dans un exercice sonore hyperbolique, chacun de ces éléments se retrouvant volontairement exagéré, grossi, dans une entité sonore massive et ondoyante, flirtant dans ses moments les plus intenses avec un white noise éruptif et dans ses moments les plus calmes avec un dark-ambient distancié et épidermique. Une expérience métaphorique à l'impact certain. -- Laurent Catala


Ondarock
July 2009

Artista e designer del suono con base a Melbourne, Eamon Sprod (in arte Tarab) consegue diversi diplomi d'indirizzo artistico-musicale e quindi debutta in varie compilation di elettronica sperimentale, tra il 2005 e il 2007. Solo nel 2009 raccoglie forze, ambizioni e programma stilistico per realizzare "Take All The Ships From The Harbour And Sail Them Straight To Hell", il suo primo lavoro maggiore (firmato per 23Five Inc., la sua nuova community di artisti elettronici indipendenti). Tributo di un'ora ai poemi di musique concrete del passato, "Take All The Ships" crea un'atmosfera rada ma asfissiante, discretamente avulsa dall'impostazione teorica di Varese e Xenakis. Stridori metallici, scie ventose, rimbombi e radiazioni suonano come voci nel vuoto che emergono a varie altezze (con un uso spastico di crescendo casuali, tagli improvvisi di strati di suono, pianissimo impercettibili, drone inquinati). Nel suo insieme, la piece appare come un "Eskimo" Residents-iano ormai disabitato, rimasto preda di forze arcane silenti. Si pu˜ anche decidere di non crederci, e allora si perde un viaggio di musica possibile (campionato in buona parte nelle ambientazioni Angel Island, dalle parti della baia di San Francisco) in un pre-storico industriale che sbanda nell'astratto ambientale. -- Michele Saran


Rockerilla
July 2009

Una lunga traccia di cinquantacinque minute costruita su field recordings registrati per la maggior parte su un'isola nella baia di San Francisco. Angel Island  stata un avamposto della marina militare americana e ancora prima un centro di smistamento per gli immigranti che entravano negli Stati Uniti. Sull'isola campeggiano ancora grandi costruzioni metalliche per lo pi abbandonate. Eamon Sprod ha provato a descrivere la desolazione di quest'isola, oggi Parco Nazionale, con i suoi microfoni. Pochissimi gli interventi digitali in post-produzione. Come per tutti i dischi della 23five  consigliato l'ascolto in cuffia. -- Roberto Mandolini


Vital Weekly
June 2009

Eamon Sprod, also known as Tarab, has already released a CD on 23Five before Wind Keeps Even Dust Away (see Vital Weekly 579) and before that on Naturestrip (see Vital Weekly 422). We now learn that his music deals with places where "mankind has scarred the surface of the earth" and from the recordings of those locations he creates a soundscape. Here it is Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay, which was once used as an immigration station, then a Nike Missile site for the army and now left to decay. There is lots of 'empty space' recorded, like a wind howl through a large empty space. Then somebody stumbles at the far over a piece of metal, and decides to scrape that along another piece of metal. The microphone is moved slowly to the outside and we hear more wind and water. All of that is used here by Tarab to create a piece that sounds like a 'live' piece but surely isn't. He has put the sounds together in a very delicate and precise way, resulting in this very fine soundscape, which seems to be a bit more drone like than before. Fine music again. -- Frans De Waard

TARAB : Wind Keeps Even Dust Away
23five010, Compact Disc

The Wire
Issue 280, June 2007

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


Foxy Digitalis
July 2007

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 


Brainwashed.com
January 2008

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


Musique Machine
June 2007

     
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 


Quiet Noise
June 2007

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


Bagatellen
May 2007

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


Vital Weekly
Issue 579, June 2007

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


Earlabs
May 2007

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


Spex
July 2007

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


ei-mag
July 2007

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


Bad Alchemy
August 2007

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. 


Chain DLK
August 2007

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


Octupus
May 2008 

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

TARAB : Surfacedrift
Naturestrip, Compact Disc

Paris Transatlantic:

The magnificently-named Naturestrip label (nature strip - a strip / slice / cross-section of nature - or nature's trip? both will do just fine) is based in Melbourne, Australia and concentrates on the work of "artists whose aesthetics range from raw documentation to concrete music to instrumental composition in which field recordings form a core element." Sort of like Ground Fault with more ground than fault, as it were. Local sound artist Eamon Sprod, aka Tarab, kicks off the label with Surfacedrift - not sure all these names shouldn't be lowercase.. forgive me if so - which the accompanying press release describes as "traces of sonic texture created by microphones dragged through leaves and gravel / rain pounding against buildings / waves crashing inside of an abandoned factory / surfaces against surfaces, scraping against one another. Marks are left." Reminds me of that Luc Ferrari autobiography: "It took a long time to realise that scraping (frotter) is what interests me most".. Unlike Toshiya Tsunoda, of whom more below, Sprod doesn't provide a blow-by-blow account of the recording process, preferring to let the music speak for itself. The above listed sounds are all more or less recognisable, along with others - the roar and crackle of an open fire, birdsong near and far - but Sprod uses them not as mere local colour, as Ferrari might, but as raw material to build larger, more abstract structures with. The most satisfying piece in terms of form is the opening "surface" (track titles like "iron" and "leaf" hardly communicate the meteorological turmoil that underpins these pieces), but the most exciting sounds are to be found on "bottle". You might have dreamt about finding a message in a bottle, but I'll bet you never wanted to be one yourself - I wonder if this is what it sounds like in there out on the open sea. -- Dan Warbuton


The Wire:

Surfacedrift is the impressive debut for Melbourne's Eamon Sprod, who has adopted the moniker Tarab for his exploration of field recordings coupled with found object improvisation. Each of the four lengthy tracks maps out a psychogeography through sound, specifying the intimate details of these environments and accentuating the pre-existing natural elements with sympathetic textures provided by Sprod. Most of the time, his hand (which can be heard rustling leaves or dragging objects through gravel) is perfectly attuned to the natural settings, so as to render his own scrabblings almost indistinguishable from his recordings of wind, violently creaking door hinges, waves lapping at coastal boulders and rain water spewing out of a clogged gutter. Where the boundaries between what are natural and performative are blurred on Surfacedrift, Sprod's compositional wandering through his complex spaces recalls the intuitive collaging of material found in Francisco Lopez's epic La Selva and Chris Watson's Weather Report. -- Jim Haynes


Touching Extremes:

In concrete music, space dimension and sound placing are everything, more or less the key to an active participation by the listener. Surfacedrift by Eamon Sprod, aka Tarab, is put together with class and extreme care of the acoustic detail, as a single entity but also in a group of concordant events. Sprod takes any challenge like the most obvious and natural thing to do, using natural elements' intrinsic value as means of personal contact with the world around; he just cuts a way to a listening experience that includes daily life timbres - the rain, a creaky door, liquids flowing into cups or bottles - gently mutated and inserted in your own environment after electronic/ambience treatment, therefore introducing fresh perspectives to otherwise easy to forget manifestations. Tarab's research is extremely focused, never intransigent; challenging and stimulating, the whole work pays back your attention with its resplendence and limpid character. -- Massimo Ricci


Earbash

"This is a journey into sound." If we can bypass for a while the cheesy ambient chillout connotations and po-mo irony that the phrase invokes, then we can consider that this is indeed what surfacedrift is. Not a "psychedelic" journey, enhancing some sort of altered state, but a carefully guided journey into focussed and attentive listening. These are pieces recorded and mixed with an ear that obviously delights in the textural complexities and aural subtleties of our everyday soundworld. Environmental recordings of the likes of open fires, rainstorms, birdsong and ocean waves are amplified, layered and re-contextualised to form the basis of the mixes of these tracks. Sonic minutiae are repositioned and foregrounded into new and sharper juxtapositions. Regular dynamic and volume relationships are altered–askew. There is a feeling of being drawn into a familiar soundspace, but at the same time reverberant spaces and aural cues seem slightly disorienting, perspectives are shifted and blurred. Favourable and well-deserved comparisons have already been made with the structured field recordings of Chris Watson's Weather Report and Francisco Lopez' La Selva. This is high praise indeed as these CDs (the latter especially for me) are classics of this genre. However what sets this work apart from other purely environmental collages/remixes is the way that these environmental recordings are layered and offset with the improvised playing of found objects. It is here that Tarab's (Eamon Sprod) live performance techniques intersect with his mixology. In performance Sprod performs using a variety of materials such as rocks, leaves, scrap metal and glass as his sound sources. Using techniques such as rubbing, scraping or dragging he is able to generate a wide palette of textures and rhythmic impulses in much the same way as that most unheralded of sound practitioners, the foley artist. Here however, these foley-style gestures are not aimed at reinforcing the believability of visual imagery or to sync action with sound, but to enhance and subtly focus the environmental recordings. They are mixed so that it is often impossible to tell what is played and what is environmental sound. The intention is not to draw attention to any distinction between performed or environmental sound–the two combine synergistically, complimenting and reinforcing each other to produce a familiar yet hyper-real soundspace. Definitely a journey into sound worth taking. -- Tim Catlin