JamBase | Club d’Elf Details New Album ‘You Never Know’ & Shares Single

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Club d’Elf Details New Album ‘You Never Know’ & Shares Single


By Andy Kahn, Jan 19, 2022 

Club d’Elf will release a new double album entitled You Never Know on April 1. The Boston-based collective led by founding member Mike Rivard shared a video for the lead single, “Dervish Dance.”

Inspired by Rivard’s life-threatening illness he experienced while deep in Amazon, You Never Know finds the bass and sintir player joined by regular Club d’Elf collaborators Dean Johnston on drums, DJ Mister Rourke on turntables, John Medeski and Paul Schultheis on vintage analog keyboards, Brahim Fribgane on oud, vocals and percussion and Duke Levine, David Fiuczynski and Kevin Barry playing guitars. The sessions were recorded to analog tape with minimal overdubbing. Additional contributions came from harmonica player Thorleifur Gaukur Davidsson, tabla player Amit Kavthekar, saxophonist Andrew Fogliano and trumpeter Phil Grenadier.

The album was made after Rivard returned from the Amazon and was seen by doctors in Boston. It was then he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism.

“A lot of people find out about having a pulmonary embolism by dying,” Rivard stated. “After the trauma in the jungle as I slipped further and further into the darkness, one of the scariest parts was how things I loved lost all meaning, the pleasure just drained away. It was this sense of sliding into an alternate universe of shadow.”

Making You Never Know followed treatment and recuperation from the illness and the resulting PTSD. Part of his rejuvenation came from intense study of the form of North African trance music called gnawa.

“Trance music provides a portal into the eternal, the timeless realm,” Rivard stated. “Whether it’s Fela Kuti, James Brown, Talking Heads’ Remain in Light or gnawa, the key element is repetition. What makes conveying the true essence of trance music challenging in this age of short attention spans and eyes glued to devices is that it happens over time, when the brain settles into a slower frequency. Learning to do that as a musician, for me at least, has meant confronting issues such as ‘Who am I? What is my place in the universe? And what is eternal?’”

Five songs on You Never Know are new originals written by Rivard in response to that harrowing experience. The other half of the album consists of covers of songs by Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Joe Zawinul and Nass El Ghiwane, along with gnawa and Sufi folk songs.

Club d’Elf previously confirmed tour dates in support of You Never Know. The tour will include Medeski joining the band for the seven-night run that commences at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York on April 1, the same day as the album’s release.

Watch the video for the Club d’Elf single “Dervish Dance,” featuring sand animation by Kseniya Simonova, below:


You Never Know Track list

  1. Boney Oscar Stomp
  2. Zeed Al Maal
  3. Now Open Your Eyes
  4. Golden Hour
  5. In A Silent Way / It’s About That Time
  6. Dark Fish
  7. Dervish Dance
  8. Lalla Aisha In Jhaptal
  9. Allah Ya Moulana
  10. King Kong

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