tarab (Eamon Sprod) describes his work as “careful arrangements of sonic rubbish”, but on his new single-track work, strata, the description is literal. These sounds were all collected in abandoned industrial lots in Melbourne. Factories, storm drains and physical debris color the landscape in shades of drab grey and brown. Homeless people search for scraps in the shadows of highways and rails. The broken paths are strewn with litter and concrete. This desolate place was once teeming with healthy activity; now it’s an “empty space”, a sector as forgotten as the earth of Elysium.
When tarab regards the space, he sees a forlorn beauty, a jilted lover who has given up on being noticed. His reaction is to interact: to love the dirt, the gravel, the broken rails. He first buries his microphones, then unearths them and drags them around. He points his tape recorder at heartless sources above and below. Others may regard the Moone Pond Creek and Macauly Station area as “somewhere to move through but not to stop and spend any real time”, but not tarab, to whom nobility lies in the forgotten and lost.
The sounds that tarab creates are as rich as the loam beneath the earth. The crackles sounds like crumbling architecture, the flaps like flags in the wind. The contrast is heightened with the arrival of a train; announcements can be heard over the loudspeaker, but just as quickly, the train is gone; no one wants to stop here. And yet the sound artist remains, attentive, loving the debris, discovering treasure in decay. The richest moments sound like sleet on tin foil. The deepest rumble like sonic booms. The warmest involve the footsteps of the artist: on dirt, in puddles, over plastic and rock.
strata also contains a late-piece harshness, akin to that found on David Vélez’ Unseen Terror. A sudden, overpowering rainstorm overtakes the piece in its 22nd minute, setting all the local dogs to barking. In the aftermath, tarab finds objects to swing and smash, expressing anger at the debris by making more debris. Is it nothing to you, all who pass by? (Richard Allen)