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Geographical: the crucifiction (Skirrid)

from Noisome Spirits [album] by John Harvey



The second of the four relations taken from Jones’s 'A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth' is one of several that expound a theological and geological idea. Namely, that there was a tangible relationship between God’s curse on Adam’s sin and certain physical features of the Welsh landscape: ‘Wherefore these Scars, and Wounds, and the numerous Marks of God’s displeasure for sin from the beginning of time upon all their Mountains should be so many arguments to prevent the wild denial of Original Sin against the Scripture’.

‘The violent shakings and disordering of the Earth, by Earth-quakes’ were also a consequence of the Fall, he believed. Those mentioned at Christ’s crucifixion (Matthew 27.51), he conjectured (alluding to a local legend), were responsible for the rent in the ‘Skyrid-vawr’ [Skirrid Fawr] Mountain, Monmouthshire. For that reason, the mountain was also referred to as the ‘Holy Mountain’ and ‘Sacred Hill’.

The low-frequency rumbles that begin and continue throughout the composition, were sampled from a reading of the source text that has been variously slowed down, re-equalised to remove frequencies above 400 Hz, and lowered in tone by three octaves. The ‘choral’ section, which floats above it, comprises samples taken from the same reading of the source. Four copies of the samples were layered and placed out of synchronisation with one another by a factor of 5 seconds. Two copies are heard moving in contrary motion. The amalgamated mixdown was subsequently slowed down considerably. In this instance, the source sound retains its normal pitch.

Source Text
When those earthquakes came to pass, which tore and disfigured the great Mountains we know not. Some it may be at the Crucifiction of Jesus Christ, as at the Skyrid-vawr is said to be, others in Great Britain and the Mountains of Wales, might be more eminently before the Romans and the Saxon Wars with the Britains, and other great Judgements; for as they are the effects and signs of God’s Wrath, the trembling Earth must come between abundant Sinning, and God’s Judgement for it.

Source Reference
​'A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account', 34.


from Noisome Spirits [album], released July 15, 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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