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Third Piece: Braver Tones

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

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The acoustic drawing of the third fragment produced a variety of tones that informed the rather angular opening melodic line. This was constructed from micro-samples of single notes sung by the choir. They, then, sing the phrase ‘O God the only …’ in reverse, as a counterpoint over the top. Afterwards, Roberts speaks discontinuous lines taken for his sermon, before uttering ‘Some stories people can tell you’. This is a collaged fabrication, along with everything else he says thereafter. The collaging technique is used elsewhere on the album too. The middle and end sections of the composition represent a fantasia of thoughts bound by shifting textures of melodic and rhythmic phrases, created from loops and overlaid micro-samples extracted from the choir’s singing and Roberts’s speech. The temper of the music is one of feverish agitation, self-confidence, and unwavering certainty. Roberts’s closing four statements take the form of enigmatic pronouncements that bear little relation to the tenets of Christian doctrine.

‘Third Piece: Braver Tones’ captures the revivalist’s hyper-manic state. Roberts, it has been conjectured, suffered from a bipolar disorder. His periods of ecstasy were swiftly followed by those of profound dejection, self-doubt, and withdrawal. Laughter and tears could follow swiftly on each other’s heels during a sermon. Roberts laid claim to receiving special revelations from God – through vision, chiefly. Some of them were intelligible and illustrated both the nature of spiritual battle that was being fought over Wales (and within his own soul) and the course that the revival would take. Others were entirely obscure. Like his closing statements in the composition, they suggested meanings but remained inexplicable. Thus, the truth was made the more potent by its opacity.


Lyric
Choir: O God the only … [reverse] [2 times]

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: You tell some people stories in five minutes.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: Here is one who rises for his gloriously.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]
ER: All eternity will not suffice.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: You tell some people stories in five minutes.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: Here is one who rises for his gloriously.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: All eternity will not suffice.

Choir: O God the only … [reverse]

ER: Some stories people can tell you.

ER: Some stories people can tell you. Some stories people can tell you ...

ER: God is suffice, cannot do less. [4 times]
Man will cause his return. [4 times]
Only God rises up gloriously. [4 times]

All eternity in five minutes!

credits

from R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A [album], released July 12, 2015

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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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