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from Spirit Communication [album] by John Harvey



The title refers to one of the Hebrew words for ‘praise’: ‘hallah’. It is the root of the word ‘hallelujah’, and an expression of exuberant, clamorous, celebratory, and unselfconscious adoration.

The composition is based upon an example of contemporary tongues speaking recorded on video in an American church. The pastor and congregation became aware of an invisible choir of angels singing above them. (Although, the singing is not clearly audible in the recording.) Encouraged by Heaven’s imprimatur on the service, the pastor launches into spontaneous glossolalia that, superficially, appears to be a string of Hebraic-sounding syllables.

I extracted samples of those parts of his speech that exhibited the greatest musicality. These were ‘looped’ manually to form an extended pattern-stream. Gradually, as the composition progresses, a lower pitched- and temporally-shifted version of the same pattern stream is introduced, out of synchronisation with the first. Later, a differently pitched- and temporally-shifted version of the pattern-stream is introduced, out of synchronisation with the previous two. The result is a slow and incremental movement towards ecstatic utterance and the suggestion that other voices, beside the preacher’s own, are present.


from Spirit Communication [album], released December 5, 2023


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John Harvey Ceredigion, UK

I’m a practitioner and historian of sound art and visual art, and Emeritus Professor of Art at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University, UK. My research field is the sonic and visual culture of religion. I explore the sonic articulations of the Christian religion by engaging visual, textual, and audible sources, theological and cultural ideas, and systemic and audiovisualogical processes. ... more

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