Èlan Vital - Shadow Self
The three members of Élan Vital Renee Barrance (keys, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, effects, vocals) and Nikolai Sim (bass) all met via Dunedin, New Zealand's collective art community None Gallery. It was in 2015 that they all took their dark hearts and gothic fashion abroad and formed Élan Vital. The name of the band means "vital force" or "impulse of life", and the trio tries to bring that very essence into their music. Whether it's cold wave, synth pop, industrial, or going back fifty years to the DIY scene of Garage rock.
Élan Vital seem to have struck the right cord with fans and critics alike as New Zealand's Fishrider Records in colllaboration with Europe's Occultation Recordings shall both be releasing the band's debut album Shadow Self. While the press releases I've received in conjunction with the albums describe the band's sound accurately, there is more than words can describe to Élan Vital. That being said I will do my best to chronicle my journey through Shadow Self.
The title track of the album starts off the album and is an amalgamation of gothic synths that sound like they are creeping their way directly out of Count Dracula's castle and a soft pulsing underlying rhythm that makes it seem as if the likes of Freddy Kruger is chasing you through a nightmare. This beginning track was a darkened Italo-Disco track that shot me straight back to Giallo films of the 80s and it was fantastic. I am not sure if this is what Élan Vital was attempting to go for with 'Shadow Self' but I'm more than sure that fellow horror enthusiasts will agree with me.
That being said, the disco influences don't end there as 'Hologram' takes on another trip back to the 80s. This time the synths sound like they were transporting me to outer space and beyond. Pair that with vocoders that make the vocals sound robotic and I was sold.
'Space' started me off in a different direction, utilizing lo-fi guitars and echoed vocals from Barrance to give out a tighter industrial essence. Odd, zappy electronics play alongside the rest on this album and it came off very well. 'Possession' brought back the gothic synths and horror vibes I felt with 'Shadow Self', but kept the same grit that 'Space' offered.
'Janina' went for a much, much lighter style. Barrance procured spoken word style lyrics for most of the track, with only few bits and pieces sung out. A psychedelic rock flavor came out of the track and it was hypnotic. The final two tracks 'Albtraum' and 'Dreams' was an understanding of the various concepts and ideas that I had previously heard throughout the album. While 'Albtraum' focused on the ominous, 'Dreams' was more in the style of 'Janina'.
Élan Vital has a very strong presence on Shadow Self as not only do they example their various talents and moods, but they show an understanding for one another. I enjoyed the variation on the album as Élan Vital had it in mind to not be boring with this album. Shadow Self also isn't the type of album that you can just fit under one roof and call it a day. There are so many different styles and influences on the album it is mind boggling that they were actually able to pull it off so well. From Italo disco, to industrial, to psychedelic rock, to songs that are seemingly inspired by cinematic horror pieces, Shadow Self is a glorious start to a band that will grow even further as time goes on.
Mar 18 2017
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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