Club d’Elf are gearing up to release the double album You Never Know on April 1. JamBase is pleased to premiere “Now Open Your Eyes,” the second single from You Never Know, along with an accompanying animated video.
You Never Know marks the Boston-based collective led by Mike Rivard’s third full-length studio album. The 10-track collection was inspired by a near-death experience Rivard had while traveling deep in the Amazon a few years ago. The musician dealt with heart palpitations, extreme anxiety and had trouble breathing. Upon his return to Boston, Rivard learned he had a pulmonary embolism which most likely came during one of his long flights to Peru.
“A lot of people find out about having a pulmonary embolism by dying,” Rivard explained. “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.” Mike experienced severe depression while undergoing treatment but dove headfirst into teaching himself the traditions of gnawa, a form of North African trance music. He focused on learning everything he could about gnawa including its form and phrases and was able to put the depression behind him.
Rivard then entered the studio to lay down tracks that present gnawa music mixed with contemporary psychedelia. With Mike on bass and sintir, he was joined by longtime friends and collaborators Dean Johnston (drums), DJ Mister Rourke (turntables), Paul Schultheis and John Medeski (vintage analog keyboards), Casablanca-native Brahim Fribgane (oud, vocals and percussion) and guitarists Duke Levine, David Fiuczynski and Kevin Barry for the sessions that yielded You Never Know. The 75-minute record, which was tracked on analog tape with minimal overdubs, also incorporates dub-jazz and trance. Half of the album is devoted to covers while the other half features originals.
Mike Rivard shared the following with JamBase about “Now Open Your Eyes”:
“’Now Open Your Eyes’ is a rarity in the often shadow-driven and alien-infused D’Elf canon: a major key song that is actually sort of happy! It might also be the first time in history that Moroccan sintir, Moog synth, mandocello, harmonica, lap steel and bendir have all been featured on the same song. It’s got a rootsy, Americana by way of North African Prog Rock vibe. It’s a very personal song, written as I was coming out of a very dark and painful time in my life. The whole thing came pouring out, like a leaf that just happened to float by and land on me.”
You Never Know is now available for pre-order. Club d’Elf, who previously previewed the album with lead single “Dervish Dance,” will support the record with a series of concerts in the Northeast between April 1 and 15. Watch the “Now Open Your Eyes” video below: