Formed in 1998 by Rivard with the encouragement of Morphine‘s Mark Sandman (who guested with the group until his death in ’99), the music draws from a startlingly wide spectrum of styles, including jazz, hip hop, electronica, avant garde, prog-rock and dub. Under the tutelage of member Brahim Fribgane (who hails from Casablanca) the band absorbed Moroccan trance influences and frequently adds this element to the mix. Audiences of all persuasions are drawn to Fribgane’s mesmerizing oud stylings and Rivard’s commanding playing of the Moroccan sintir, a 3 string bass lute used by the Gnawa people of Morocco, a mystical brotherhood of trance-healers. Derived from such ancient sources as these, trance forms the central core of the Club d’Elf aesthetic, unifying all of the various genres the band has absorbed.
The band’s bi-weekly residency at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA has become the stuff of legend, and over the course of it’s 19 year history D’Elf has toured internationally (most recently making its South American debut at Ecuador Jazz 2016) and played clubs and festivals throughout the North and Southeast US. Equally at home playing late-night festival sets for the rave/Burner crowd as it is for a predominately Arabic audience, boundaries melt away and all are drawn into the intoxicating power of the D’Elf groove. While its natural habitat is playing live (with 8 double-live CDs in its catalog), the group also embraces the more sculpted sound the studio makes possible. The latest CD, Electric Moroccoland/So Below , drew glowing reviews from PRI‘s The World, Voice Of America, and Afropop Worldwide for its bold synthesis of Moroccan traditional music and electronic, dubbed-out funk, and rose to #1 on the Relix chart. A double-CD set that features over 20 musicians (including a chief of the Dagbon people of Ghana, and some of the last recorded performances of Sandman’s) it most fully captures the full range of the band’s music, from Gnawa to Squarepusher-influenced drum’n’bass. While primarily instrumental, Gnawa legend Has
Electric Moroccoland/So Below Chart Position: Relix #1, CMJ Jazz #2, CMJ New World #4