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

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dream Theater - Awake – Judging by the various opinions that I had heard concerning this album, Awake was either the best album released so far this decade, or a worthless piece of tripe. I opted for believing the...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues