Review: Tarab – HOUSEKEEPING (self-released, Dec 27)

Over the course of avant-garde music history, the ‘symphony of objects’ has always been a mainstay in unconventional sound sourcing and composition, bolstered along by such landmark works and recordings as Luigi Russolo’s 1913 manifesto The Art of Noise, Group Ongaku’s domestic improvisations on the archival release Music of Group Ongaku, and Michael Siegel’s Sounds of the Junk Yard recordings for the Smithsonian Folkways label. The use of items we see and use every day to create new, separate, even alien sonic constructions is an often rewarding paradox, as demonstrated by Tarab’s HOUSEKEEPING, an album in two parts derived from a multimedia installation presented in 2017. “Rather than a documentation of an installation, this iteration has been arranged from the debris collected during the process of making one.” HOUSEKEEPING is an agile, dynamic work, embracing the potential of the smaller sounds we often take for granted. Part I begins with breezes of tumbling impacts, the high level of processing still retaining each individual object’s weight and motion. Later in the piece, it progresses into less manipulated recordings of what is presumably the performance of the original installation, which is phased in and out with cut-up style clatters of pans and utensils, an interesting and disarming contrast that still maintains the energy of the items chosen. Part II resides in a much more spectral atmosphere; we are kept in the shadows, listening from a distance or from another room as clunks and clanks reverberate through the heavy air.