Cold Cave's Dominick Fernow takes his Vatican Shadow alter-ego on tour
The Hospital Records boss (aka Prurient) specialises in dense beds of instrumental electronica
Go to Discogs, search for Prurient and feel the next few hours of your life contract as you imagine yourself rifling through their creator’s online footprint to find out exactly what Dominick Fernow has done with his time. Lots and lots of electronic records is the answer, some on his own Hospital Records imprint, some in tiny limited release batches, almost all of them charting the territory between ambient techno and a surly kind of industrial noise. He started working on the project in a recorded sense in 1998, although since then a much younger variant with a different name has taken over.
Vatican Shadow is a defiantly unique project, although it’s not just the music which accounts for this. It’s wonderful to listen to, of course, should your tastes include dense beds of instrumental electronica with a sinister, rhythmic purpose and a fascination with squeezing strange noises into a fog of approaching calamity. It sounds – and is intended to sound – like the gears of the military-industrial complex grinding away beneath the surface of the world. Yet there’s a humanity here too, and often something approaching warmth for the fleshy fragility of humankind at its angriest.
The other part of his singular style is the imagery. Taking his lead from Muslimgauze, the late Bryn Jones’ similarly conflict-obsessed project of the 1980s and ‘90s, Fernow (also live keyboard player in Cold Cave and owner of a noise record store in Los Angeles) places Hillary Clinton and Saddam Hussein as cover ‘stars’ of his records and uses loaded titles like ‘Chopper Crash Marines’ Names Released’ and ‘God’s Representative on Earth’. How this visual iconography is incorporated into his show remains to be seen.