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TARAB - Strata

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Unfathomless U18
Release Year: 2013
Note: field recordings made at 'vacant lots' in the suburbs of Melbourne - abandoned zones between factories, railways & highways, somewhere in between the 'industrial' and 'nature'.. TARAB tried to capture the odd feelings of emptiness that occur in these areas... lim. 200 copies
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €14.00

More Info

"Strata has been constructed from recording made in a series of vacant lots and their immediate surrounds in the north-west of Melbourne. These vacant lots are backed onto by various factories and warehouses on one side and a train line and Moonee Ponds creek (perhaps more aptly described as a concrete storm water drain) on the other. Running some 20 meters above all this is a large multi-lane highway overpass. This area has interested me for some time, the creeks and their walking paths act as a thoroughfare of sorts somewhat removed from the rest of the city. Somewhere to move through but not to stop and spend any real time. This collection of empty lots in particular has become an overlooked pocket, acting as a trap and dumping ground for rubbish or as a safe out of the way location for homeless people to live. It is a place where the industrial meets nature to create a zone which is strangely neither. It has a odd feeling of emptiness while being both sonically and physically dense with traffic noise, over grown weeds, hidden dwellings and rubbish.

As discussed in the introduction to Francesco Careris book Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice (Editorial Gustavo Gili, 2002) there is a common held view of the urban landscape as full with small pockets of emptiness (be it parks or demolition sites), as opposed to the rural landscape which is seen as empty with small areas of density. A view which holds within it much of the associated baggage regarding centres, peripheries and social marginalisation. What is thought of as empty is often simply that which is not seen or heard, the majority of people wilfully choosing to ignore. As for many others, these areas of cities hold great fascination for me, acting as a sort of hidden zone, full of the traces and debris of various past and present human activity, whether commercial, domestic or nefarious. All the while being slowly eroded by weather and reclaimed by the now unrestrained plant and animal life.

Rather than attempting to document this location I set out to construct a sound piece from the place itself through my direct interaction with it. Somehow collecting together all the existent traces I could unearth to form the work. Not only through walking, observing and recording the various areas and sounds but also by crawling and scratching around in the dirt; sifting through the piles of discarded objects; listening to the solid vibrations of the concrete pylons and traffic noise from inside the creek; by burying microphones and dragging them through the dirt and rubble. Strata attempts to respond to ideas of urban density and emptiness, and to show how these states blur and overlap each other. I have tried to highlight the small hidden details and with them create a condensed hyper-real version of my many wanderings through this area. But perhaps more simply put, Strata is the result of a process of attempting to, if only fleetingly, inhabit somewhere. To see, hear, smell and touch it." ]Eamon Sprod, September 2013]


"Vacant store fronts, abandoned buildings, and empty lots are increasingly harder to find in San Francisco these days. Even the former wastelands well to the east of our Mission location are filling in with all manner of development, from modern office spaces to sleek steel & glass apartments. Complaints of gentrification can hardly be made when such buildings are constructed on purportedly mitigated toxic sludge or the settled landfill of crumbled highways from the '89 earthquake. These dead zones in the urban landscape nevertheless are thriving ecosystems of feral plants and animals that can exist sprouting through broken asphalt and plumping themselves on the scraps of whatever can be pulled from nearby garbage cans. Few would pine over the loss of such spaces, and the Australian sound artist Eamon Sprod (aka Tarab) is one who would actively explore vacant lots instead of ignoring them. Over the years, Sprod has released a small catalogue of brilliant, if understated albums that reflect these dead spaces in the urban landscape, often with apocalyptic foreshadowings through his compositions. He patiently builds this work through layers of sparsely processed field recordings and found object manipulation often recorded directly in such environments - empty warehouses, military bunkers, dry sewer ducts and the like. For Strata, Sprod has documented something of a concrete island on the outskirts of Melbourne, bordered by train tracks, highways, and drainage ditches. In collecting his recordings, he would dig and claw through the broken concrete, construction refuse, bum trash, and aggregated debris, amassing a whole array of crumbled textures and noises that would also echo with the distant din of cars and trains roaring by, many miles away. What is always impressive about Sprod's albums is the incredible clarity of detail which pops into focus, as the bright frequencies of found metal debris take the shape of obsidian shards with possible diabolically mystical qualities. The compositions coalesce into churning swarms of texture that snap into expansive rumbles paralleling the desolation of Thomas Koner's polar treks, giving way to doppler-effected field recordings of trains with the grinding of brakes and the pulsing thunder of the engines. It's that rich attention to detail that warrants comparisons to Chris Watson's impeccable phonography, but the compositional approach strikes a balance between the psychological implications of Luc Ferrari and those damn-near perfect collages by Small Cruel Party. As with all of Tarab's work, this is very highly recommended! Limited to just 200 copies!" [Aquarius Records]

"Not the most active when it comes to releases by Eamon Sprod always gets around with his music, and has been releasing music on 23Five Incorporated, Naturestrip and most recently on Semper Florens (see Vital Weekly 866). Here he has a thirty-four minute piece based on a recording in a 'series of vacant lots and their surrounds which back on the Macaulay Station and Moonee Ponds Creek, North Melbourne, Australia', so train sounds are part and parcel of this. Although it's not entirely clear what he does, I'd say Tarab uses an excellent balance between pure, untreated sounds - here's where the trains drive right through your living room - and the treated versions there of, but it's never really that clear what is what indeed. Maybe Tarab stuck some contact microphones of the tracks as to pick up some far away signals, or rummages through the dirt along the tracks, which makes a very dynamic piece of music. Sometimes very loud and present but then as abruptly switching off and staying
is this low audible audio rumble of amplified gravel. Sometimes, as say around eight minutes, there is a deep end bass sound which must be something the computer coughed up, but then, I might be entirely wrong here. This is a great release of music that comes to us a soundscape and not as a pure documentation of sounds; exactly the kind of thing I like. Much enjoyable release from down under." [FdW/Vital Weekly]