It has taken 33 years — during which time this decidedly strange Liverpool collective have put out only three albums and done virtually no interviews — for the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus to become sort of au courant. Which is perhaps why they have suddenly, in a wholly unforeseen bout of activity, put out two in the same week. The other is the limited edition Nocturnes. Given our current predicament, the simple iron church bell that tolls here and there on this album should be resonant enough. But musical fashion has swung around a little to this band, too. Whereas once they would have been filed under minimalist modern classical, of interest only to those who hanker after Gavin Bryars and maybe Arvo Part, now you can see traces of conventional and established bands such as Azure Ray and Arcade Fire in this genuinely haunting and beautiful collection of, er, stuff.
No bangin’ choons, no rockin’ out. Sonorous cello, plangent piano, judicious use of feedback, oddly conventional acoustic guitar, whispered or spoken vocals, as often as not in French. Or maybe Russian. Fragments of tunes drift in and out, or build into a fugue, sometimes dissonant. Their agreeable obsession with religious imagery and religious music, especially that from east of the Elbe, persists. These songs of yearning are, in fact, hymns; but what exactly they are hymns to is another issue.
This is as affecting and pacifying a collection of songs as you will hear for a long time. Go on, be one of the 14 people in the country who buys a copy.