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Besides (The House of the Lord)

from I. Nothing. Lack (Psalm 23) [ep] by John Harvey



The final piece is based upon non-verbal and additional sounds captured in the gaps between MacMillan’s pronouncements: variously moments of recovery, dramatic pauses, interruptions to the flow of thoughts, and brief hiatuses in the proceedings. The sounds include the acceleration of a motorbike and car, knocks, bumps, coughs, indefinable movements, and the 'floor noise' of the cassette-tape recorder (heard, with the addition of harmonics, at the beginning and end of piece, especially). These Cagean 'silences' supply the sonic material for the whole (and somewhat disconcerting) piece. In this sense, it is a sonic essay about Bethel and its interior ambience, rather than the (quieted) preacher.

For many of those battling with dementia, silence is always relative, and sometimes terrifying. They can experience distressing internal noises associated with tinnitus too: a ringing, whooshing, or buzzing in the ears that cannot be turned off.

In Hebrew, ‘Bethel’, means ‘House of God’ or ‘House of the Lord’. Thus, the chapel was an appropriate venue for a project on Psalm 23. In Old Testament times, the concept of the house of the Lord would have been understood in terms of a building or architectural edifice, like the Tabernacle and Temple of Solomon. Some seventeenth-century antiquarian illustrators putatively and erroneously envisioned the latter as a classical edifice, one that is not so far removed from the style and design of Bethel Welsh Baptist Church, mk III.


from I. Nothing. Lack (Psalm 23) [ep], released March 6, 2018


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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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