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.
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 - A Closer Listen 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 - Secret Decoder June 2014
This is a new album by Tarab (Australian sound artist Eamon Sprod), but it culls pieces made in 2007-2011. Sound art both ambiant and harsh, heavy on sharp contrasts and white noise. Minute attention to detail seemingly contradicted by the violence of the jumps found in these collages. Sprod is navigating through a labyrinth and he doesn’t find the exit at the end of the album. His hesitations, dead ends and back ups become the “narrative” of I’m Lost. A difficult listen, but a very stimulating one.
François Couture - Monsieur Delire August 2014
The title of this Australian artist’s latest album is extremely fitting. Passages of roughly edited tape, collages of indecipherable found sounds, and bizarre production is disorienting at best, and downright baffling much of the time. It is because of this confusing, jarring, and sometimes frightening nature that the disc works so well.
This is my first experience with Eamon Sprod’s work, so I was not fully sure what to expect past the initial sound clip that I heard. Of course, the intentionally vague (yet beautiful) artwork does nothing to elucidate things much, something I doubt was an accident. The first of the five untitled compositions is an appropriately forceful introduction, and is gripping to say the least. Very lo-fi field recordings are paired with white noise bursts and subsonic bass that pummels through a jerky stop/start jump cut editing, and this is just the first 30 seconds. Mechanical clattering, birds chirping, a passing train and what could be a tape recorder left in an oil drum as it rolls down a steep hill appear in the following five minutes.
The middle pieces are a bit less chaotic, but only marginally so. The second is largely built upon hollow hums and ghostly scrapes, occasionally interrupted by a razor sharp outburst or crackling texture that builds to an aggressive jet engine roar before pulling back to a dull hum. Sprod mixes subsonic bass and jump cut noise for a chaotic opening of the third piece before scaling back to an ominous rattle that stays more consistent through the remainder of the composition.
The final two pieces are more akin to opening in terms of frenetic noise and pure dissonance. Eamon uses static bursts and digital edits effectively on the fourth piece, mixing up the shimmering harsh noise and crackling textures. Paired with the unidentifiable junk found sounds, Sprod shifts between pensive ambience and abrasive chaos at a ridiculous pace. The final piece might begin at a low volume crinkling, but what could be a microphone scraped on a gravel driveway prevents it from being anything but ambient. Distant talking and cricket chirps might sound peaceful, but violent clattering noise is anything but.
The absurdist, junky noise collages of I’m Lost reminded me of Sudden Infant or Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock’s work, but without the organic, occasionally nauseating component both Joke Lanz and Rudolf Eb.er are fond of exploiting. The harshness, aggression and unpredictable production is consistent with that scene though. Violent, sometimes unpleasant, and infrequently introspective, I’m Lost is a schizophrenic, but brilliant mass of sound.
Creaig Dunton - Brainwashed - August 2014