Multi-instrumentalist Gerry Diver based the Speech Project on several interviews of Irish musicians and singers such as Shane MacGowan, Christy Moore, Damian Dempsey, Martin Hayes and Danny Meehan. It also features archival recordings of Galway accordion player Joe Cooley. The various musical pitches of the musicians’ voices formed the basis for subtle musical arrangements.
“Music for tape loop” hinges on a Shane MacGowan’s interview in which he remembers his early days in England. The multi-layered track is of course reminiscent of Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus’ blood (never failed me yet)” as it also features an unidentified singer on which string arrangements are superimposed.
As Gerry Diver wrote in his blog:
The piece started life when I came across a very old, evocative recording of an unknown pub singer. It sounded like the singer was recorded on a handheld domestic tape recorder from many, many years back. The recording was very noisy, full of background pub noise and was overshadowed with tape hiss – also the tape was very degraded, perfect I thought! … Once I had fed the tape recording into my computer, I pitch shifted the tape loop up a semitone and wrote a dark eerie piano chord progression around the tape loop, I also composed string quartet parts and parts for flute ensemble as well. I wanted to build a piece of music which relied on repetition and dynamic intensity for its musical effects – the piece is literally the same four chords repeated over and over – starting as a musical whisper and ending up as a tumultuous musical roar.
The end result is a beautiful, haunting and emotionally packed musical collage that demands repeated listening.