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The composition’s objective was, in the spirit of the final section of ‘John!’, to fabricate a soundscape that possessed many of the hallmarks characteristic of EVPs. Its samples are derived from wax cylinder recordings of séances, classical music, and broadcasts from the 1930s, spoken and sung in German. They were processed using an EVP algorithm, and the outputs edited and interwoven. The combined effect is like that of shortwave radio signals drifting in and out of focus, imbricating, and competing with one another to create an uneven fabric of fractured voices and dislocated conversations and interruptions involving the living and the dead.

The title ‘Achtung’ [German: ‘attention’ or ‘watch out’] is the only sound in the whole piece that is discernible as a recognisable word. In the culture of EVP, interpreters of recorded content invariably guess what otherwise sound like a jumble of digital artefacts, noise, and indefinitely pitched tonalities, might be communicating. Their judgement is often a misconstrual arising from auditory pareidolia. This is perceptive tendency to hear voices and words in otherwise random noises. Thus, ‘achtung’ may represent my own discernment of sense where, actually, there is none to be found.

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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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