In 2003, a wax cylinder containing a unique recording of a short speech by Evan Roberts, the charismatic figurehead of the Welsh religious revival of 1904-5, was deposited at the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, Aberystwyth. The cylinder had been broken into eleven extant pieces. After a painstaking restoration by an American dentist, it was able to be played during the centenary of the revival. Against the insistent noise of surface clicks and crackles and the rhythm of the stylus as it ploughs through the spinning furrows, the febrile voices of Roberts and a small choir of male singers are discernable. A digitized version of the recording was prepared by a sound studio in Pasadena, California and the British Library, London.
R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O is a sonic art intervention into, and engagement with, this sound document. The work (divided into 12 pieces) further extends the process by which Roberts’ voice has been subjected to audio recording and playback technologies. The wax cylinder’s sound is re-recorded, recomposed, rearticulated, sampled, transcribed, and accompanied using digital and analogue processors in a performance context. In this way, the audio material is fractured once again. The project is a unique collaboration between The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales and the School of Art, Aberystwyth University.
On the 16 November 2011, at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, John Harvey presented a lecture on the project and performed the first of the 12 pieces, entitled ‘Abort Nerves’, of which this is the live recording.
Personnel: Evan Roberts, anonymous male-voice choir, and John Harvey
Instrumentation: Akai Professional Controller APC40, Alesis mini mixer, Apogee Duet audio interface, Apogee Gio guitar interface, Apple MacBook Pro, Boomerang III Phrase Sampler, Korg Kaos Pad 3 Dynamic Effects/Sampler, PureTone cables, QSC K10 PA system, Ableton Live 8, and Adobe Audiition CS6.
Context: Recorded live at a lecture entitled: ‘Evan Roberts: A Waxworks Revival', delivered at the the Natyional Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK (16 Nov. 2011). Studio remastered in Aberystwyth, UK in Nov. 2011.
- Evan Roberts