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Eighth Piece: Reborn Stave

from R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A [album] by John Harvey



When Roberts was 13 years old, he began to develop a passion for a religious awakening in Wales. Later in life, he wrote: ‘I said to myself: “I will have the Spirit”. And through all weathers and in spite of all difficulties I went to the meetings [at Moriah Chapel, Loughor, West Glamorgan][;] for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit who moved me to think about revival.’ His statement of determination provides the sole intelligible lyric for the composition: ‘I will have the Spirit’. The statement, as such, was not spoken on the original wax-cylinder recording. It has been collaged from individual words derived from Robert’s sermon. All except ‘Spirit’, which had to be manufactured from fragments of his words played in reverse. The choir’s vocalizing (which is also derived from a sample played backwards) serve as distant voices beckoning Roberts to his destiny.

The other tonalities that make up the composition are sampled from Roberts’s statement and the choir’s singing, which have been variously slowed down, speeded up, harmonically adjusted, re-equalised, and reversed. The music consists entirely of single extended notes and two-note motifs. The mood is one of seriousness and portentousness, one that deepens as the composition builds towards a climax. At which point Roberts is ‘reborn’ as the revivalist-in-waiting and the clock ticks down to God’s appointed time, when Roberts’s long prayed-for awakening would be inaugurated.

ER: I will have the spirit! [4 times]

Choir: [Unintelligible] [reverse] [8 times]


from R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A [album], released July 12, 2021


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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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