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How to Be Saved (If You Are Not)

from Spirit Communication [album] by John Harvey



The source material for the composition is adapted from a recording in my Aural Diary archive of a radio broadcast by a fundamentalist Christian propagandist (captured at Colorado Springs, USA, in 1999), and the sound of a drumming troop at the Columbus Day Parade on 5th Avenue, New York, in 2003. Additionally, there is an EVP recording that purports to be of an unknown choir singing unknown music, captured fortuitously by a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the 1930s. This has been radically reorganised, adjusted for speed, pitch, and timbre, and modulated. The propagandist recording has two elements: a voice and plaintive electronic organ music. Modified versions of both, the choir, and quotations from commercial radio advertisements, are interspersed throughout the piece.

The outcome is a rhythmically propelled, sonically fractured, and semantically dislocated mash-up of Americana, religious self-confidence and authoritarianism, God and Mammon, and the sacred and profane – a metaphor for my first impressions of populist evangelical religion on visiting the USA.

Speaker: How to be saved if you are not
How to be saved or not show it
Sure that you’re saved … or not
Sure to be saved

I pray
For you to know it

If you’re saved
We’re here. We’re here
If you’re not
You’re saved
If you’re saved
Sure to be saved … or not
You’re not saved

Commercial: Why try anywhere else?

S: Want to be save
If you are we’re here
Be saved. Be saved
How to be saved
Blessing upon you
Know it, to be know it
Or not show it

We’re here to saved
How to be know it
We’re here

C: Hi dot com

S: We’re here
if you are not
How to be saved

C: Best prices on the Internet

S: Or not
How to be saved
You're saved.
How to be saved
Are saved … or not

C: Guaranteed

S: I pray
That you’re, that you’re saved
We're here. We're here. We're here
I’ll pray. You’re saved
We’re here. We‘re here

We’re here to know it
But not show it.


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


all rights reserved



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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