Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Music for the Generals in Abbotabad: Vatican Shadow

Pakistan Military Academy insignia

For a time I worked as parking lot attendant.  The University of Minnesota was (is?) the largest university (60,000 students) in America and there were heaps of parking lots scattered across the sprawling network of campuses in the Twin Cities.  My job was to stand in the cold and hand every car a ticket. When the parking lot filled up, usually within an hour, I spent the next three hours of the shift inside a little cabin, studying.

On the walls of one particular cabin someone had started a list of band names. Each week it grew longer and longer. Yasser and the Gaza Highsteppers was followed by Meringue Fortitude which was followed by something equally silly.  It was a quiet perk of the job.

How about this band name?  Vatican Shadow. And this a name for their latest album Pakistan Military Academy.

Not exactly funny or even that inventive. But these are real names and the subject of tonight’s post.

I stumbled upon this record only last week.  And of course, since the Washerman’s Dog is mad about anything Pakistani, I read on. Here is what the website (boomkat) said, Ok, we're trying to stay relatively stush about these new Vatican Shadow releases at the risk of over-egging them, but really, this one is just f**king incredible. Like the 'Washington Buries Al Qaeda Leader At Sea Deck 1-3' series, he's drawing inspiration from the whole "did they/didn't they?" situation with Bin Laden earlier this year to make some of the darkest gear we've ever heard. Like the bastard savant offspring of John Carpenter, Michael Diekmann and Aphex Twin (don't know how that would work, but hey), he's in F19 nightflight mode on 'Prime Minister Defiant As Pakistan Outs CIA Agent' with droning, black synth-bass mass and narrowed-eye strings primed for the mission, while 'Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash' makes no bones about its epic intentions with majestically moody synth orchestrations and widescreen reverbs. The two other, more beat-driven tracks are excellent too, but this release is essential for the other two. One of our favourite releases this year, hands-down.

Now I’m a normal sort of guy and while I love music, dark ambient or death metal isn’t exactly my cuppa.  But I duly downloaded it because who the hell names a record for the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbotabad? Where aforementioned Bin Laden was done in.

This is dark music surely. I mean with the names being what they are you’re not going to get polka.  But for those who recoil at the thought of dark trance music, take heart. This album is very good. It’s moody and evocative. All synthesizers, some drum beats and a bit of ‘noise’ (but very tastefully done!)  And from what I can garner on the man behind Vatican Shadow, Dominic  Fernow,(the earnest young  lad from Wisconsin pictured below) this is him entering an ‘easy listening’ phase. I take it a lot of his other stuff is mostly industrial clang.

While this record will probably not make it to the top of the hit parade on FM Abbotabad, it is an unexpected rough diamond that is growing on me with every listen.

         Track Listing:
         01. Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash
02. Staccato Bursts Of Gunfire
03. CIA Contractor Freed Over Pakistan Killings
04.Prime Minister Defiant As Pakistan Outs CIA Agent

Listen here



Lepus Rex said...

Nice! And having at one time been a Minneapolitan parking lot attendant myself, I must say: This is a job that everyone should have at least once in their life. Getting paid to read and bullshit with strangers... Amazing. Unless Steve Buscemi shows up and shoots you in the face, of course.

ajnabi said...

Bro Rex. Solidarity man!
And yes, the snuggle toothed nuts had to be watched closely!