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Dominick Fernow drapes us in his Vatican Shadow once again. Well, actually with this remastered reissue of 2011’s Pakistan Military Academy the Hospital Recordings boss takes us back to the project's early days, but this is a record so potent that it still grabs your attention almost a decade on from the first release. Running the gauntlet of dark ambient and industrial techno, Fernow’s stern assessment of the Military Industrial Complex ranks as one of the highlights of his extensive discography. Pakistan Military Academy's Muslimgauze comparisons hold.

Vinyl LP £16.99 HOS-641

Black vinyl LP on Hospital Productions.

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Pakistan Military Academy by Vatican Shadow
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8/10 Ant 29 August 2019

First-time vinyl edition of this 2011 tape from Dominick Fernow as Vatican Shadow - so an early one in the VS discography that’s come back around as the second release in a series of remastered vinyl reissues. If you copped the Byzantine Private CIA wax, no doubt you’ve been well primed for this one and eager to add it to the collection. But if you’re a total noob then this is as good a place to start as any - and perhaps the only Vatican Shadow record you need as I think it’s safe to assume this one is something of a fan favourite and considered by many as the highlight of his output as Vatican Shadow. He kinda said it all with this one really, but just like his main inspiration for the project - Muslimgauze, he seemed intent on a relentless release schedule that was pretty hard work keeping up with/filtering through. It all got a bit repetitive/boring/too much but this one seems to capture the very essence of the work and could be seen as the blueprint for everything that came later. 

‘Whitewashed Compound Stealth Helicopter Crash’ with its layered synths is evocative of desert haze, a mirage in the blazing heat, while ‘Staccato Bursts Of Gunfire’ was a real surprise at the time. Like WTF?!?!? Prurient is making stepping techno. Hearing ‘CIA Contractor Freed Over Pakistan Killings’ for the first time is when the penny dropped that the whole thing was essentially Fernow’s tribute to/vision of what Muslimgauze had done before but it seemed to make perfect sense at the time - the double cassette was issued not long after Osama Bin Laden was captured. Every Vatican Shadow record is littered with cryptic track titles and images that leave room for the imagination to fill in the gaps. Last track ‘Prime Minister Defiant As Pakistan Outs CIA Agent’ is a really good example. Without its title, it could easily take you somewhere else but with those few words as guidance, the cinematic synths and martial drums take us into a real heavy political/military scenario.


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