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Here's a collaboration between electronic big hitters Function and Vatican Shadow who have combined forces,  simultaneously stripping back each producer’s main production elements - the dancefloor-focused techno structures of Function; the experimental cassette-roots of Vatican Shadow - to create an album of dynamic electronic ambient music, equal parts rhythmic and atmospheric. 

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Games Have Rules by Function & Vatican Shadow
1 review. Write a review for us »
8/10 Ant 26 September 2014

New York artists David Sumner (Function / Sandwell District / Infrastructure) and Dominick Fernow (Vatican Shadow / Prurient / Hospital Productions) pair up for a somewhat unexpected foray into lush, ambient twilight techno territory. Sumner's pristine production sound seamlessly merges with Fernow's lower fidelity approach across seven tracks that reach out into the infinite possibilities of New York City before the sun comes up.

'Things Known' has gentle throbbing heartbeat drum machine as it's pulse, over which shimmering Function bleeps sparkle like lights reflecting from glass and metal skyscrapers on the NYC skyline. The sound of traffic accelerating, synthetic digital birds and indecipherable fragments of vocals conjuring images of that moment in time where the city is still, empty streets with condensation rising from manholes.'Things Known' could be easily mistaken for a track from one of Warp's Ye Olde 'Artificial Intelligence' compilations, or early B12. The sparse drums, stripped back and draped in strings. There's a darkish undertone but that's counteracted with much lighter elements. It's a really pretty, warm and emotional ambient track that's a zillion miles from Vatican Shadow's recent brutal hard as nails performance at Golden Cabinet in our locality of Shipley this summer. However he does do some really sweet mellow stuff and Function's 'Incubation' full length on Ostgut Ton had moments that suggested a more downtempo and widescreen sound. The result in this tune's case, sounding like Muslimgauze and Pete Namlook jamming in heaven.

'The Nemesis Flower' has a slow, sinister bubbling acid loop, plus robotic vocal generating an atmosphere that recalls both Polygon Window/ and Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works Vol II. 'A Year Has Passed' has lovely melancholy, soulful synth melodies; again driven by efficient, minimal percussion, and the digital bird calls that are present across a few of the tracks make an appearance bringing a continuity across the albums sequence. 'A Year Has Gone Passed' carries across the sound pallate with a very slight tempo increase, gradually building up the percussive elements with synth work that sounds lost and lonely.

The brief 'Red Opium' could be mistaken for a Baby Ford production with its minimal, tech-house rhythm. Very little happens within its couple of minutes duration and it does feel a little like filler or perhaps a bit of a cleanser to make way for the final cut 'Bejeweled Body'. This track sounds like how I envisioned 'Games Have Rules' would sound, and that is them both in dancefloor techno mode but nothing proper banging/ industrial/ dirty happens until right at the very, very end where to me it just screams "To be continued..." Let's hope so.



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