August 5, 2011 Boston Globe Noisy Neighbors by Jonathan Perry
Club d'Elf's first studio album, 2006's â€œNow I Understand,'' was eight years in the making, so waiting another five years for its sprawling 25-track, two-disc follow-up doesn't seem like too terribly long a stretch. Besides, as they say, some things are worth the wait.
â€œElectric Moroccoland/So Below'' is one (actually, make that two) of them. The free-flowing, free-spirited Boston collective, led by founder Mike Rivard on bass and sintir (a low-voiced, three-stringed North African instrument), again masterfully mines a potpourri of global sounds and styles spanning, among others, Moroccan trance, dub-dosed funk, jazz fusion, hill country blues, and psychedelic rock. (Check out d'Elf's radically revamped version of Cream's â€œSunshine of Your Love,'' featuring Hassan Hakmoun's vocals and John Medeski's mellotron.)
Taken as a whole, this release feels and sounds like two distinct, yet mutually adventurous works – the first born from ancient tradition (and reportedly inspired by Rivard's first trip to Morocco), and the second sprung from the space-age dance floor of some cosmic club of the imagination.
Like â€œElectric Ladyland,'' Jimi Hendrix's epic double album to which this work winks, â€œElectric Moroccoland/So Below'' is also a ravishing example of exhilarating musical exploration and dazzling execution, encompassing earth, sky, and the elements in between.
Club d'Elf plays with Otis Grove at the Regattabar at the Charles Hotel on Aug. 12. 617-395-7757. www.regattabarjazz.com