TARAB : I'm Lost
23five019, Compact Disc
release date: June 24, 2014
$12.98, plus shipping

A schizoid-concrete opus of environmental sounds heightened, stimulated, decontextualized, and teased into a psychic puzzle of industrialized and post-industrialized detritus, I'm Lost marks another milestone in the ever impressive catalogue from Australian sound-artist Eamon Sprod, who adopts the moniker Tarab for his endeavors. The title is one that explodes with a multitude of meaning. There's the geographical frustration in losing one's way as the surrounding landmarks fail to match with whatever technology may be in use (e.g. a sextant, a compass, an iPhone, a torn map, one's poor memory of a childhood neighborhood, etc.). There's the psychological implications of being lost from the existential narratives that we have scripted for ourselves due to broken relationships, failed jobs, dead relatives, natural disasters, the hand of God, etc. In addition to these possibilities, Sprod proposes that the notion of "lost" could also be an inversion of the idea of the "found object" or the "found sound," instead becoming the "lost object" or the "lost sound." Sprod's semantic wordplay is hardly a conceptual gimmick, as he fully immerses himself in the confusional framework while maintaining a consummate technical prowess over his field recordings. The compositional approach is rhizomatic, with dead-ends, wrong turns, and reprisals of these same dead-ends and wrong turns, offering a blackhumor sneer at the stubbornness of humanity's inability to learn from our mistakes (e.g. pollution, blight, poverty, disease, etc). Within the album's harsh edits and disjointed collages, Sprod renders sound with dysphoric associations through his vacant drift, crumbled gravel, scalding plasma-tube frequencies, and putrid factory noise. I'm Lost achieves the same psychological gravity as heard in the works of Sudden Infant, P16.D4, and John Duncan with an even greater sense of dislocation from those pioneers of radical tape splicing.

Tarab // track 4 from I'm Lost


Chain DLK
Septembr 2014

Some people are interested in shredding the veil of Maya, while other ones could be ideally more interested in breaking the windscreen or the rear-view mirror of their own car as a deforming lens or misleadign diaphragm between sentient individual and surrounding reality and the skilled Australian sound artist Eamon Sprod aka Tarab, who builds visionary mosaics of field recordings and focused on the perceptional prophylaxis of mass transit on his previous release "Strata", seems to follow this spiritual and artistic path. Noises (mainly those ones which come from technological devices, artificial objects, traffic, social environments) got placed in Tarab's puzzling patchworks as disturbances which heavily influence the perception of reality, whose "natural" elements are just like insignificant entities, as it's clear since the first of five tracks of "I'm Lost", which could vaguely resemble some neurotic sequences of sketches of movie makers like David Lynch or Darren Aronofsky. The second track features claustrophobic entities over an almost silent blown stream, which precedes the oppressive grid pattern of radio frequencies, confusing sonic objects, squeaking sheaves and disquieting trembles of the third track and the very high frequencies and the electric stridencies of the fourth one. The final track, the longest one, got filled with outlines of social sketches which seem to get exterminated by an electric buzz getting out of a broken pressure relief device. Besides any implied interpretation of the title, Tarab seems to pinpoint his grabbed disturbances and heterotopic non-places as possible sources of (spiritual, geographical or sensorial) bafflement. -- Vito Camarretta

The Sound Projector
August 2014

Well if Eamon Sprod is lost in this album, what hope is there for the rest of us as we try to follow him about on this set of field recordings all chopped up, fragmented, distorted and amped up to an extreme? – but no matter how far the soundscapes take us, we somehow find our own points of reference in recognisable sounds. The album’s seemingly modest and low-key title turns out to be deliberately layered: “I’m Lost” could be interpreted in a narrow physical sense but it could also be read in other ways. There is the loss you feel when you lose loved ones or your relationships break up either intentionally or through neglect or simply because the other people have moved on. There’s the loss you feel when your youth becomes a distant memory and familiar objects, cultural and technological items associated with your generation and knowledge are superseded by other cultural ephemera and become obsolete. There is loss on a greater scale as well: buildings are demolished to make way for new ones, industries change and certain kinds of work become redundant, valuable history and advice are forgotten, countryside is submerged under cables and concrete, and the world is soon brought to the brink of another global war by yet another lot of incompetent politicians and their unseen puppet-masters. (Well at least one thing doesn’t change!) Through this work of five meditative pieces, Tarab demonstrates that the concept of loss contains within itself an openness and potential for creativity and inventiveness as new associations, directions and goals are free to form and connect. The album is at once quiet and noisy as scraps of unrelated field recordings of industry, the natural world, domestic life and urban environments are pashed together with no thought for how they blend (or not) together. Of course the more you listen to this recording, the more y ly in the music that are unique to it and to your ears. Other listeners will make their own associations. In this way, you’ll find your own supports in the music but they’ll be unique to you as a listener. Listeners become aware of the environments in which they live and the detritus they unthinkingly leave behind. The lost and forgotten, the things that seem innocuous at first but which have serious consequences for us later on (things like plastic rubbish left on the ground, scooped up by the wind or washed through stormwater drains into the ocean where it might choke a sea animal that swallows it), the things we try to ignore or forget but which have a habit of annoying us and demanding our attention … Tarab scoops all these up into these five expansive and highly absorbing sound dramas. Repeated spins of the album do eventually result in your finding yourself as a unique being, free of all past associations and structures. Isn’t that a paradox, that to know and find yourself, you have to be lost? -- Nausika

A Closer Listen
June 2014

This album is comprised of field recordings, but don't expect to hear field recordings; they've been chopped up, rearranged, amplified, and skipped like flat stones across a glass surface. At one point the speakers spew the ugly sound of a busted CD; anyone who knows this sound will rush for the remote. And yet, everything is intentional: the glitch, the fuzz, the squelch, the sonic debris. Tarab's intention is to decontextualize and disorient, and he does so here in spectacular fashion. When one hears the sounds of birds and running water, one thinks, "how lovely!" Not in this context, in which they are surrounded by harsh drone and over-amped rustle. That's just in the first minute. The impression is that of an exploding car driving through a factory. On this album, the artist (Eamon Sprod) elaborates on themes last explored on Strata, including broken objects and the immunizing effect of mass transit. The words I'm Lostcan indicate a number of things: that one is physically lost, emotionally lost, spiritually lost. By removing the normal signposts from his soundscapes, Tarab dares his listeners to find the port in his sonic storm. Fortunately, the human mind is so good at finding patterns that it tends to impose them even where they don't exist. For example, the wind of the second track may be intuited as a chorus, or the entire album as a buildup to breakdown. The more one listens, the more one begins to hear repetitions: there's that bird again, there's that running water again. Either one is going in circles, or one has just found one's way. The album shares the appeal of early industrial music. At times it sounds as if Tarab has killed and gutted a metal turkey, stuffed it with sprockets and gears and thrown it against a wall. The music is dangerous in all the right ways. Save for that intentional CD glitch at the end of track four, it's also quite beautiful. This adjective may fly in the face of all that Tarab is trying to achieve, but as much as he may wish the album to serve as a commentary on humanity's "dead ends", these are the sort of mistakes most listeners will want to hear again, perhaps reveling in the very idea of failure. We may continue to colonize, desecrate and pillage, to the extent that birdsong and running water become only footnotes in our sonic landscape; but the metallic and emotionless possess their own peculiar allure. -- Richard Allen

Secret Decoder
June 2014

Tarab is the guise of one Eamon Sprod, an electroacoustic savant operating out of Melbourne, Australia. Over the course of five albums and various EPs and CD-rs of dense and calculated sonic experimentation, Sprod has established a body of work that is as moving and brutal as other heavyweights in modern musique concrète realm like Francisco Lopez or Sudden Infant and micro-tonal purveyors Frank Bretschneider and Alva Noto. Sprod's Tarab now returns with I'm Lost, a five-song suite of wholly meditative pieces that explore the feeling of being without direction, context, or identity. But the concept doesn't end at literally being lost. As the label expounds, Sprod extends the concept to include "an inversion of the idea of the ‘found object' or the ‘found sound,' instead becoming the ‘lost object' or the ‘lost sound.' " As the CD's liner notes explain, sounds on the disc range from having been amassed with reason (collected, captured, sought, borrowed, begged), without reason (stumbled over, lost, overheard, misused), with purpose (begged, stolen), and/or with a certain disdain (broken, trodden upon, ignored). Track 04 is one of the more overtly micro-tonal tracks here, deploying high-frequency tones of varying harmony over a disheveled din of various clatter. While the physical activity almost sounds like someone waking from a drugged sleep in a scrap-filled shed, looking to break out into the empty woods outside, the intensity of the tones screech almost to the point of discomfort, adding a dread and loathsome air to the scene's action. Scraping and distant noise clouded with static round out the event with a morbid but fascinating sense of doom. -- Bobby Power

August 2014

Il compositore concreto australiano Eamon “Tarab” Sprod torna con “I’m Lost”, dopo uno split con il navigato Eric La Casa (Compost And Height, 2010), il breve ma violento “Acquiescence” (Kaon, 2011), le asfittiche composizioni senza titolo di “Shards Of Splinters-Fragments Of Sketches/ Killustiku Killud-Kriimude Killud” (Semperflorens, 2012), e l’oltre mezz’ora di “Strata”, contenuto in “Strata” (Unfathomless, 2013), la sua creazione più aerea e, d’accordo col titolo, stratosferica. “I’m Lost” si compone di cinque parti senza titolo. La prima è un delirio quasi dadaista di suoni naturali, sprazzi di rumore abrasivo e loop di spezzoni di suoni tutti i giorni. La seconda è un pianissimo con vibrato alla Anton Bruckner, tra venti e piccoli rumori, prolungato ed estenuante, fino a un lieve crescendo. La terza mixa due tecniche storiche dell’alea d’avanguardia, i radioworks e la musique concrete, prima di farsi un concerto di tremori a diverse altezze e volume, quasi uno studio sul contrappunto, costantemente immerso in un ambiente terribilmente plumbeo. La quarta è una sonata di frequenze altissime, insostenibili all’orecchio umano, con stridori che creano un guscio ultrasonico che richiama la stasi delle campane tibetane, mentre il clima si fa sinistramente cosmico. La quinta, la più lunga (12 minuti) attacca con un bollore di microfoni a contatto con l’aria, quindi mostra una registrazione d’ambiente con trambusti di persone e stoviglie, osteggiandola con un delirio di distorsioni e interferenze, fino all’emissione violenta di un gas sterminatore: la “Modern Dance” dei Pere Ubu ha trovato la sua dead end. Primo albo per la community no-profit di artisti elettronici 23five inc. dai tempi della monumentale “Take All The Ships” (2009). E’ un Tarab sempre più maturo: nel suo caso significa anche “visivo”, quasi cinematografico. Un affresco urbano fortemente distopico di spazi vuoti, senza più compromessi, emozioni o speranze vitali, in compenso forte di una tensione in inesorabile aumento. Quattro anni di lavorazione. -- Michele Saran