Thursday, March 23, 2017

Èlan Vital - Shadow Self

Put on your earphones and surf the darkwave dreams of Dunedin, New Zealand's Èlan Vital on their debut LP Shadow Self.  Synths groan and drone, rise and fall, lasers shoot, but all with a sly dance-able undercurrent, veins of analog warmth, and a human touch with the female vocals.  The overall effect is as if the band threw their dreams and nightmares in a big pot and cooked it to trance/dance soundscape.  Oh, and we should mention that it is highly addictive and, like all addictive substances, becomes more so with prolonged exposure.

The album commences with a Gothic tone and static fog, but as it unspools we are treated to increased dynamics (e.g. the spacey, funky "Space") and lighter moments, such as on "Janina", break through like rays of sunshine.  Èlan Vital seem to have a strong sense of what they want to do, and the ability to execute their ideas.  Impressively, they stay within their desired groove while keeping the compositions accessible to the listener.  I chose a few representative tracks below, but I recommend the final stream, which will give you the full album.  To my ears, the songs on the last half of the record are especially recommended, but it is all good.

If we understand correctly, the genesis of the band was in Berlin, where two of its members resided.  A following stop was Auckland, on New Zealand's north island, and then a relocation to Dunedin.  The band's current rehearsal space is the None Gallery which, before it became an artist-run creative space served time as a pharmaceutical factory and then a strip club.

Èlan Vital is Renee Barrance (keyboards, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, effects, vocals) and Nikolai Sim (bass).  Shadow Self is released on vinyl, CD and digital formats via Fishrider Records on March 24, and by Occultation Recordings in UK/Europe on May 12.

Bandcamp for Shadow Self
Fishrider Records
Occultation Recordings

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