Exposé Online banner

Élan Vital — Shadow Self
(Fishrider Records FISH018, 2017, LP/CD/DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-07-17

Shadow Self Cover art

Élan vital is a term coined by French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1907 as a hypothetical explanation for the evolution and development of organisms, life's “vital impulse” or “vital force." New Zealand band Élan Vital’s debut album Shadow Self tries to convey musically that life impulse in the ambiguous zone between electronic and human worlds. Band members Renee Barrance (keyboards and vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, mixing, and vocals), and Nikolai Sim (bass guitar) blend psychedelic 60s organ with Euro synth-pop shoe gazer dance music, layered with analog drum machines and distorted bass. Various influences abound from Krautrock to New Wave and post punk. The driving bass line and rhythm of “Space” shows the influence of the Human League’s “The Black Hit of Space.” “Possession” has mixed influences from Killing Joke and Throbbing Gristle. And you can easily picture the ethereal songs “Janina” and “Albtraum” belonging on a David Lynch soundtrack, even though Renee’s baby girl voice is buried in the mix making it very difficult to understand the lyrics. For me, the best song on the disc is the closing “Dreams” with its swirling dark dance tempo, standard I-VI-V-I rock chord sequence, and vocals from Danny. The band takes themselves very seriously, which contributes to the dark and gloomy atmosphere of Shadow Self. It is easy to visualize people standing in a trance, not making eye contact, and swaying to the music. So to sum things up, if you are a fan of cold wave music, then Shadow Self is for you.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Élan Vital

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Various Artists - Medium Label Sampler – Medium Productions is a low profile label from the UK which represents the work of three former members of Japan. The trio is alternately creative within varying contexts and combinations of...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues