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Spittle and Ground

from The Biblical Record [album] by John Harvey



The final composition in this suite is based on the incident of Christ healing a blind man by anointing his eyes with a mingling of clay and saliva. There were occasions when Christ healed blindness with only a word (as in the text upon which ‘Bartimaeus Bartimaeus’ is based); on other occasions, he did so with spit and by laying hands on the afflicted (as in the text upon which ‘Men as Trees Walking’ is based). Here, however, he creates and applies a paste that serves as a publicly visible and divinely enabled ointment.

The piece has no spoken parts. In ‘Spittle and Ground’, what in the previous compositions served as the background is, here, made the foreground. The work seeks to create a sonic realization of the moistened clay’s texture. To this end, the crackling, gritty quality of the disc’s surface when slowed down digitally provided a ground upon which the sounds of the static-laden lead-in and tailpiece grooves and tone-arm drops are looped and overlaid.

Biblical Text
When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.

Biblical Reference
John 9.6.


from The Biblical Record [album], released July 19, 2019


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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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