Vatican Shadow - Pakistan Military Academy (Hospital Productions)
Shallowrave are big fans of Muslimgauze; Bryn Jones' output of truly surreal electronica, with its penchant for fucked up time signatures, eastern instrumentation and deliberately wrong production levels, is full of hidden gems I'm still discovering. I've been inundated lately with suggestions that I check out Vatican Shadow (solo project of Dom Fernow from Prurient & Cold Cave), who have had a whole bundle of accolades thrown at them lately, most of which reference the quintessentially lunatic style of Muslimgauze. It's a valid comparison, as VS utilise many of Jones' technical tricks - warping tapes, skipping beats and generally adding in at least one thoroughly sickening moment per track. As well as the aesthetic similarities, track names are equally long-winded and descriptive; Prime Minister Defiant As Pakistan Outs CIA Agent, closes off this particular 12", and Vatican Shadow imbue Bryn Jone's signature skewed aesthetic with more contemporary middle eastern issues; the death of Bin Laden and the Arab Spring unsurprisingly contributing much of their imagery.
However, casting aside Vatican Shadow's cursed compliment - their slew of recent releases have been great genre-crossing material, managing to channel the best of hip hop, techno, classic braindance, drone and noise, driving it all through a filter of sandblasted desolation. Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash opens the EP with Murcof-inflected noise compositions, skull-crushing Merzbow-isms and folk-drone hybrids that wouldn't sound out of place on a Carl Sanders record. Following it up with the cinematic Staccato Bursts Of Gunfire, which comes across like finest Shackleton, it's not exactly easy listening. Continuing through smacked out breakbeat and hard-wired techno, Fernow achieves a breadth of vision rarely seen from modern producers, clinically engineering a myriad of styles and conjuring a twisted, paranoid atmosphere. Deserving of recognition and a joy to listen to, Fernow's work is a genuinely pleasant surprise.