Boomkat Product Review:
The best Vatican Shadow release, bar none, finally lands on vinyl for the first time as part of a long overdue remaster + reissue schedule for the project’s earliest, most fêted releases, fully resmastered at D&M in Berlin and complete with new artwork.
Originally slunk out on a tape edition of 125 copies in 2011, ‘Pakistan Military Academy’ sees Dominick Fernow calibrate his night-vision goggles to scan the most potent, affective visions of dark ambient and militaristic techno in his war chest. At the time of release, only months after the capture of Osama Bin Laden by US Army SEAL “Night Stalkers”, the project really came into its own as a form of impressionistic reportage, daring to grasp the nettle of contemporary US geopolitics in a way that, as music and art history will only make starker, everyone else broadly avoided at the time.
In place of literal lyrics, a mix of quotes from newspapers and official government communiques, together with evocative photo documentation, supply the song titles and narrative/aesthetic framework for what are essentially abstracted emotions related to American military and foreign policy. Depending how much you read or buy into it, for us at least the music rarely fails to evoke the shadowy unease and precarity of that era, as the sound betrayed an underlying mood that also spoke to the realignment of borders between musicks and socio-economics.
The A-side is worth the cost of entry alone for ‘Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash’, a spine-freezing tract of arcing synth pads leading to one of this decade’s most memorable codas, but when we factor in the scudding techno-stepper ‘Staccato Bursts of Gunfire’, plus the haunting late period Muslimgauze styles of ‘CIA Contractor Freed Over Pakistan Killings’, and the deep systolic thrum of ‘Prime Minister Defiant As Pakistan Outs CIA Agent’, this plate becomes an absolute essential for any and all connoisseurs of modern industrial and dark ambient music.