We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

What is here

from Noisome Spirits [album] by John Harvey



In 1769, David Thomas of Pantmelyn, Breconshire (who was a preacher among the Methodists), emboldened by what proved to be reckless courage, travelled at night over the Illtyd Mountain in that county. Like John ab John, he unexpectedly encountered an auditory apparition while en route. Whereas John heard a spectral coach, horses, and rider, Thomas was terrorised by a more abstract sound that, he described, was ‘as strong and loud as five or six coaches could make at once’. Upon exclaiming: ‘In the name of God, what is here?’, the source of his consternation ended. In its place, where the sound had been, there was a ‘darkness’. Given that the phenomenon was manifest at night, one assumes that this particular region of darkness emitted no light by which anything within or through could be seen – like a black hole. The darkness of silence.

The composition opens on a desolate wind-swept landscape, high-up on the mountain. While there is no mention of the weather conditions attendant upon Thomas’s experience, the evocation of such, as in ‘John ab John’, helps to establish the landscape setting or sense of place acoustically. The apparition is conceived in terms of a complex of overlaid noises, like those that have been heard already in previous compositions. The ensuing darkness is alluded to by the quieter, singular, and sustained chord at the close of the work.

Again, the source text provided the raw material for composition: exhaled breath served as the fundament for the rushing of the wind; the other sounds were derived from the temporal manipulation, editing, and overlay of spoken words and phrases.

Source Text
So it came to pass upon him. For travelling over Illtyd mountain in the county by night, all of a sudden he heard on his right hand a sound so strong and loud as five or six coaches could make at once. This caused so great a terror that it made him leap to the ground (and for a long time after any sudden sound would startle him). Upon hearing the strange mighty sound he said: ‘In the name of God, what is here?’ Upon which the sound ceased, and he heard it no more. He saw not the form of anything, but saw darkness on his right hand, where the sound was.

Source Reference
'The Appearance of Evil', 49.


from Noisome Spirits [album], released July 15, 2021


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

contact / help

Contact John Harvey

Streaming and
Download help

Report this track or account