Following the issue of the ultra-limited Byzantine Private CIA cassette at the start of 2010, well over a dozen releases attributed to Dominick Fernow's Vatican Shadow project have appeared. The most recent of these, September Cell and Operation Neptune Spear were covered by so much noise back in June and July respectively. Last Monday saw the release of three more additions to Fernow's burgeoning canon; a pair of EPs (Jordanian Descent and Atta's Apartment Slated for Demolition) and this album which was previously available only as a limited double cassette pack.
The Vatican Shadow sound has undergone quite a few changes since that first cassette which presented various sound sources layered over disjointed rhythms and cloaked in reverb. Fernow has employed more conventional rhythmic structures on later releases and incorporated textures which increase the overall sense of military-grade paranoia and creeping dread as referenced in his titles.
Ghosts of Chechnya is probably the most 'accessible' title in the Vatican Shadow back catalogue so far but this is far from the lazy, lowest common denominator cash grab that accessibility usually signifies. I can't help feeling that this is probably the most completely realised Vatican Shadow set issued so far.
Opener 'Encryption Nets' runs a sweeping loop, plangent synth lines and white noise flickers over a submerged rhythm track. 'Peace Rage' makes a mad dash through clattering percussion whilst 'Voices Came Crackling Across A Motorola Hand-Held Radio' builds tense drones atop crunchy jackboot drums. The standout track for me is 'The Hamburg Cell Was Born In Chechnya' which builds from an ominous, low-end rumble before adding hovering synths and gunfire snare hits.
With this kind of prolificacy it's only natural to expect the occasional dip in quality control. On the evidence of these three releases, Domick Fernow is still operating at a much higher level than sheer volume usually dictates.
Ghosts of Chechnya is available digitally through Juno. Jordanian Descent and Atta's Apartment Slated For Demolition are also available via the same source and are highly recommended.