Review: TARAB – Material Studies #1 (Hemisphäreの空虚, Jan 24)

I first encountered sound artist Eamon Sprod’s solo project TARAB when I heard 2018’s HOUSEKEEPING, a CD that evolved from a multimedia installation in a unique manner: “rather than a documentation of an installation, this iteration has been arranged from the debris collected during the process of making one.” Sprod is an artist who often seems to adopt a scientific approach in creating his music, playing the role of a curious and active observer in the midst of his surroundings, though the emotional impact of his work never seems to suffer (despite the cold impartiality one may associate with the practice of science). In the case of Material Studies #1, the identities of Sprod’s surroundings are not made nearly as clear; we are told that some of the elements are sourced from old cassettes from the project’s early days, but other than that the “materials” he utilizes are quite wide-ranging—metallic machinery that resembles recordings I myself once captured of children’s playground equipment, small vibrating objects on agitated surfaces, Velcro-like scrapes and scratches. The exhumed tape remnants add a crucial dimension to the music, unseating the clearly and closely recorded tactile events with a cloying layer of ghostly hiss and hum. There’s a particularly strong stretch near the beginning of side B where heavily processed micro-sounds flit and crackle around droning, soupy clatter, the former almost resembling the hyperactive granular textures of pure data synthesis. Material Studies #1 is essential listening for all those who love to turn their ears to immersive, textural sonic landscapes that refuse to abandon their gritty, earthly origins.