Tarab “Apophenia” CD




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. – Vital Weekly #1224