Gig review: Vatican Shadow, Edinburgh

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A LONG-STANDING hero of the burgeoning ambient electronic movement through his previous pseudonym Prurient, New York’s Dominick Fernow cloaks his current alias Vatican Shadow in a compelling veil of political relevance, titling his releases things like and Shooter in the Same Uniform as the Soldiers.

Vatican Shadow

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh

* * * *

With images of Hillary Clinton and squads of Pakistani commandos on his minimalist record sleeves, his whole aesthetic is a nightmarish trip into fear and suspicion hiding beneath the global news chatter.

With that in mind, it was a matter of intrigue as to how these thematic subcurrents would translate to his live show, here part of Sneaky Pete’s Night Music series of gigs held in the hour before midnight. It was momentarily a little frustrating, then, to find that it didn’t at all, although there was something a lot more elemental going on. The show happened in almost complete darkness, save for the intrusive brightness of a twin spotlight scanning the walls and the crowd as if there were a gun muzzle attached searching for a victim to interrogate.

Fernow’s music is a lurid churn of crunching beats with a head-swaying groove and unsettling qualities in the more textured rhythms going on beneath that. It worked for the club setting, and it seemed to have no greater effect on anyone than on Fernow himself, stepping out from behind his equipment to dance and flail in the dark, the torch in his hand casting manic trails across the walls of the bunker he had constructed for us.