The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus | After The End (Infrastition)
When The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus turned up in the late-’80s Liverpool underground with The Gift of Tears, the critical lexicon to describe their sound didn’t quite exist. European folk influences are infused by Eastern Orthodox spirituality, industrial cacophony, disco beats, post-punk angularity and jazz rhythms. A quarter century later, we know RAIJ can be at least loosely associated with the apocalyptic folk movement of acts such as Current 93, Death In June, Dead Can Dance, Caroliner and Wovenhand.
But RAIJ reside even on the perimeter of that fold, not only for the imagery they invoke, but the enigma lying at their heart: no personnel listings, limited edition releases, not exactly reams to be read about them on the web and the way their disparate sound coheres over the course of an album as an enveloping, immersive experience transporting the listener to an alternate reality, where plainsong and operatic flights of vocal fancy met tribal drums, didgeridoo and some of the harshest of synth sounds.
After The End’s three CDs collect Gift and everything else RAIJ studio recorded (including two new tracks) in packaging handsome enough to pass for a Harmonia Mundi compilation of pre-Baroque classical music. The only things that might have made this more wonderful would have been lyrics, reminiscences from the Army themselves, a longer booklet essay and a video of at least one of their rare, multimedia-abetted concerts. But any more than what’s here might dissipate the mystery that’s always been a goodly percentage of The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus raison d’être.