Goldmine | Beyond Genre: Album review of Club d’Elf
You Never Know (Face Pelt Records), by Boston’s Club d’Elf, is the most fascinating album of the year. Only their third album in 24 years, the only constant is Mike Rivard who plays acoustic and electric bass, tamboura and sinter (an exotic 3-stringed lute).
Rivard has gathered an international amalgam of like-minded souls to create a new brand of gnawa music from North Africa. He had to completely unlearn his American jazz education in favor of a progressive trance sound based on repetition. Drummer Dean Johnston, turntable whiz DJ Mister Rourke, keyboard ace John Medeski, 3 guitarists and secret weapon Brahim Fribgane from Casablanca who mysteriously sings and solos on oud. The result is technicolor, psychedelic, funky and surprising, covering Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Miles Davis and Nass El Ghiwane as well as his originals inspired by folkloric Sufi strains.