Colin Nagy | May 16, 2023

The Sister Irene O’Connor Edition

On music, religion, and reissues

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Buy Music | Sister Irene O'Connor
Buy Music | Sister Irene O'Connor

The album features psychedelic music by Sister Irene O'Connor, an Australian nun. It has gained attention for its enchanting piece of music, particularly the song called "Fire", and has been highlighted by several fans including The Avalanches. It has also been sampled by artists like James Blake and made TV appearances.

Colin here. While I appreciate the depth and breadth of the Economist’s coverage, psychedelic music by an Australian nun wasn’t on my bingo card. But alas, the newspaper recently highlighted the re-issue of an album by Sister Irene O’Connor. 

They explain:

It starts with an incantatory, haunting voice: “Fire, fire, burning, warming cold hearts…” The words are distant and echoing, as if they are coming from inside a dark cave or a cathedral. The vocalist is soon joined by a gently pulsing rhythm. The song, called “Fire”, is an enchanting piece of music. It sounds vaguely like some electronic pop that was made in the 1980s, yet it is actually the work of Sister Irene O’Connor, an Australian nun.

The album has racked up some serious fans—some of my favorite crate diggers and vinyl archivists, The Avalanches, called “Fire of God’s Love” one of the best Australian albums of all time and the early copies were grails on online forums and used record sites. The album has also been sampled by the likes of James Blake and made some TV appearances.  

Why is this interesting? 

Sister Irene’s journey into music started in Singapore where she played for young people with learning disabilities. She later teamed up with another nun, Sister Marimil Lobregat, who recorded some of her music (and lent it the beautiful psych-tinge). 

In a twist that I’m sure she didn’t expect when she laid it down, the album has been re-issued digitally following the ravenous global appetite since its original release, and some of the proceeds will go to her care in an elderly home in Sydney. You can listen to and buy it here. (CJN

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

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