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Tafl gerrig o​’​r afon [Throw stones out of the river]

from Noisome Spirits [album] by John Harvey



Sir David Llwyd was a Cardiganshire curate who was known to deal in the black arts. For which practice, he was ejected from the clergy and became a ‘physick’ (or medical doctor) instead. On one occasion he went on his rounds to visit a town in Radnorshire, going from one house to another. Having accidently left his ‘magic book’ in one of the houses, he sent his young apprentice back to retrieve it. Llwyd charged the boy not to open the book. But he did. And no sooner as had he done so, than an evil spirit appeared out of it and asked to be given a task. The apprentice’s knee-jerk reaction (as it were) was to command the spirit to ‘throw stones out of the river’ nearby and, then, throw them back again … which it did.

The composition’s spine was derived from a slowed down reading of the text from which harmonics and noise elements have been extracted. On top were laid the sounds of splashes, recorded in the same manner as ‘Such a noise as if all about was going to pieces’. They are heard played both forwards and backwards. The reverse samples are a sonic metaphor for the sound of stones being projected out of the river.

Source Text
The boy, though surprised and in some perplexity, said ‘Tafl gerrig o’r afon’ [‘Throw stones out of the river’). The evil spirit did so.

Source Reference
'The Appearance of Evil', 53.


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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