February 20-26, 2001
CD of the Week:
Club d’Elf’s As Above (Live at the Lizard Lounge) 2 CD Set
(Grapeshot Media/Live Archive)
Terrence McKenna used to speak about the “alien machine elves” one could meet in certain circumstances that could introduce one to the realms of universe(s) the usual conscious world block out. Club D’Elf seems intent upon bringing those same revelations to people through sounds rather than (or in addition to) recreational chemistry.
Club d’Elf is a Boston-based sonic experiment led by bassist Mike Rivard (aka Micro Vard) at the subterranean Lizard Lounge. Rivard brings together an ever changing cast of professional players into a completely improvisational setting that fuses avant jazz with jungle, trance, ambient techno, groove, world music and more. Rivard’s characters include players that have earned their keep gigging with the likes of David Bowie, Either/Orchestra, Peter Gabriel, Miles, Maceo, Morphine, Paul Simon, Paquito D’Rivera, and Mary Chapin Carpenter, among others, as well as folks like DJ Logic (who scratches on several tracks here), Dr. Didg, and John Medeski.
Recorded live, often without the benefit of anybody but the rhythm section knowing where this was going or why, this a two-disc set that proves the best jams are truly improvised extemporaneously, not mere soloing over chord changes. Club D’Elf’s bottom keeps to rhythms one could dance to, or at least tap the toes to, while at the same time getting alternately or simultaneously groovy and abstract and often abandoning melody completely. Loops and samplers add technology to the otherwise organic stew, which is as likely to explore something Moroccan as something from the “avante-freak free-jazz” world. Not every cut is as compelling as the best of them here, but the overall picture sounds great. This is what to listen to very late at night, on the road between shows, when you want something truly original, clearly live (warts and all), that would be impossible to memorize well enough to ever predict. Which is to say when the alien machine elves are at play.
-da Flower Punk