Tarab “Take All the Ships from the Harbour, and Sail Them Straight into Hell” CD (2009)

CD coverWith a title that long, you would expect something pretentious.  Tarab’s music is on the contrary low key.  The Australian artist recorded sound in the San Francisco Bay for this album, although you would not know that as there is no mention of this on the release itself.  The press release is informative and I think that writing would have better used had it been included in liner notes with the actual release.  The secret location is Angel Island, at one time an immigration state and later a Nike Missile site, yet the notes allude to there being other locations as well.  And location does feature prominently here as the final product focuses on the sounds of rooms, with some additionally recorded by Jim Haynes and Matthew O’Shannessy.  Jim’s name seems appropriate enough one to bring up when discussing this album as it resembles Haynes’ obsession with rusted structures, decay and the textural sounds associated with them.  There are sounds from reverberant and seemingly empty rooms, rustling and scraping objects in them and general crunchy sounds.  The scraping comes and goes but never come together into a greater organization.  I feel that the compositional structure is too weak to work as a “piece” but has too much interaction and editing to work as a document of place – a pure listening experience.  There is a bit of mucking about, but it never coalesces.  There is even a section that appears to use digital delay in contrast to the natural effects achieved through most of the disc.  To me “Take All the Ship…” sounds unfinished and like it needed to be pushed further in one direction or another to come into its own.  The area it works in has been mined too much to excuse a bland work.  I can see more sense in going back to older recordings by the likes of Small Cruel Party than revisiting Tarab’s disc.  As for the visual end of things, the packaging is nice, but nothing exceptional.  There are worn surfaces and peeling paint inside and out, with the out also including a slipcover.  The inside cover has a short nautically inspired text which tries to set an atmosphere of doom in disparate sentences that fall between cut-up and Surrealist tendencies, but again don’t stand out.

23five – 014