careful arrangments of sonic rubbish


To make APOPHENIA I have borrowed sounds made by people and some by things; some sounds I initiated myself.  All sounds collected 2012-19.  Arranged and de-arranged 2016-19.
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi.

Elements of this piece first appeared on the Aposiopèse compilation VIII. Sounds were then borrowed, discarded and re-arranged into a mix for the Ears Have Ears radio program (RIP). Further additions and subtractions were made, and over time it all de-arranged into the form it is in here. Thank you: air conditioning units, bicarb soda, malfunctioning white goods, alleyways, constructions sites, trains, escalators, plastic bags, hollow vessels, floor boards and empty rooms. Thank you: Andre Piguet, Matthew Davis, Emily Jones, Helki Sprod, Simon Whetham, Pierre Judon, Scarlett Di Maio, Brooke Olsen, Juniper Good-Knight, LLara Goodall, Carey Knight, Leon Van De Graaf, Julian Hocking, Michael Prior, David Prescott-Steed, Thomas Tilly, Francisco Meirino.


It is too easy to lean on either the personal or geographic specificity of field recordings as a justification for their existence. The assumption is that the recordings themselves gain more significance as a kind of document of—or window into—a particular place or person’s experience. The title of this release, Apophenia, seems like a direct commentary on this tendency, apophenia being the all-too-human phenomenon of finding connections or meaning in unrelated, meaningless coincidences. On this album, Tarab forestalls any such effort by openly acknowledging that his source material comes from a number of disparate persons and places. Against the cliché image of the sound artist as the lone figure, stolidly lugging his equipment through abandoned factories and babbling brooks, whacking a steel chair with a cinderblock and muttering yes, excellent…, Tarab invites us to imagine the music as a fractured collage of many environments and experiences, intertwining to produce impossible juxtapositions, like a sonic document of what never did or could exist. In this way, our attention is freed from any effort to identify the sources of the sounds, better to enjoy the meticulous arrangements. These pieces are both elegant and sparse, making ample use of silence both to frame the music and to underscore their fragmentary, denatured status as found materials. This is both a serious, challenging album and an excellent introduction to Tarab’s body of work. —Mark Cutler - Tone Glow april 2020

The title is so clever, it nearly derails the usefulness of a review. Apophenia, according to The Skeptic’s Dictionary, is “the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things”. Such distance from authorial intent invites listeners to hear this as pure music disconnected from the source that produced the sound. Eamon Sprod, the artist behind the Tarab moniker, works predominantly (though not exclusively) with field recordings, as loaded a sound material as any. The temptation for a listener is to match sounds to their source and attempt to read meaning there. But Sprod makes it clear in the title that such an interpretation would have as much validity as finding images in clouds or constellations. So never mind the suggestive litany of source sounds provided by the artist: bicarb soda, air conditioning units, escalators, floorboards and so on. Instead, let’s talk about the industrial immensity and finely controlled drama of the piece. The music seems endlessly detailed, both legible and obscured  at the same time, with a stellar control of tension. Not a second seems to be on autopilot. “Apophenia” begins with close crinkles, a swarm of small sounds that wrap themselves around the stereo field like angry gnats. This pulls a listener in, but Tarab is not about to let anyone rest; giant blasts hammer jarring juxtapositions between inhuman roar and reverberant emptiness. Metal bashing becomes hyperventilating, events heard at a distance are suddenly jump-cut  screaming in your face and just as suddenly warped sideways into multi-layered acoustic squeaks. Sections full of soft ambient howl are rudely interrupted by teeny sounds wrapped in gaspingly intimate silence. Delicate sections are rapidly intercut with screaming peals of heavy weather. There are sections of recognizable rain, vocalizations (but not words), and human hands acting upon objects, but those do little to diminish the overall mystery and suspense. “Apophenia” concludes on a surprising note, twelve minutes of low frequency growl, the only track that remains in roughly the same sonic area for its duration, granting listeners time to rest  and reflect after the death-defying bumper car ride that preceded it. Howard Stelzer - VITAL WEEKLY