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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, December 17, 2007
    Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus
    I've been on a Liverpool Nativity high all day. Oddly numerous bloggers seem to be intent on (or content with) criticising last night's play for not being biblically accurate or slick enough, and others feel it necessary to damn the people of Liverpool for so explicitly enjoying ourselves. I'm sidestepping the urge to get embroiled in dead-end conversations on those unpromising themes. Instead I recall that enthused by The Manchester Passion but yearning for a more left-field version, I afterwards rewrote the set list entirely using songs by The Fall.

    None of that sort of silliness tonight but just a yearning to dig deep back into my personal musical prehistory (I'm talking mid-eighties) with a desire to illuminate and celebrate again the music of the Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus. Using them as a soundtrack to last night's events would have radicalised things somewhat. In a good way.

    Rupert reminded me of RAIJ recently, sending me a link to Lost-In-Tyme, a website where it's possible to download a substantial amount of their back catalogue. On that site Thomas Jones describes them (accurately) as "...an anarcho-Christian collective [who] brought all of these elements together: Acoustic-electronic, innocence-wisdom, lucidity-confusion, Christian-pagan."

    The Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus were a singularly classy and mysterious Liverpool group. Their music combined classics, Orthodox chants, madrigal, mediaeval flutes, echo-chamber percussion, chopped-up European film soundtrack samples and stark electronic soundscapes. Their songs included: Joy Of The Cross, Hymn To Dionysus, Nostalgia, Theme De "L'Homme Qui Ne Croyait Pas En Lui-Meme", Psalm, Nativity. They kept the lowest of profiles but performed with a rare passion. I once saw them on stage silhouetted behind heavy net curtains in a set which ended in an explosion of onstage violence, band vs. instruments and props, as the keyboard drone segued into a painful feedback loop and clouds of dry ice spilled out from the stage to shroud the audience... glorious!

    RAIJ always seem to have been wilfully elusive. I remember trying to make contact with them probably a decade ago, for a gig we wanted them involved in, and failing to find them then... By now they're probably running an underground Eastern Orthodox commune somewhere in mid-Wales. Or perhaps working part-time in Probe Records. Reader, perhaps you know?