To the naked eye, Club d’Elf looks exactly like a world-class instrumental band: 5 or 6 fierce players laying down heavy grooves & exploratory solos on distinctive original material, as audience members dance or listen in amazed attention. To its fans, however, and its large and colorful cast of musicians, D’Elf is all that & much, much more. The paradox & the power of the unusually named Club d’Elf become increasingly clear through repeated encounters. Unlike almost any other band, D’Elf’s personnel changes radically from show to show. Fans have their favorite configurations & players, but unlike groups where musicians’ tenures are finite, ‘D’Elf-ians’ revolve in & out, reappearing in endless combinations. Beyond the cast of characters, the music itself is in constant flux. Individual songs can vary dramatically from performance to performance as new alignments of players make every moment fresh. No 2 sets are alike. Yet the feeling & philosophy that animate D’Elf remain consistent, the product of the vision & dedication of leader Mike Rivard (aka Micro Vard) and the ongoing contributions of his talented collaborators. Club d’Elf’s desire to move beyond the world of appearances & venture into the realm of the eternal is at the center their music. This metaphysical quest is embodied – much to listeners’ benefit – within one of the best bands you will ever hear – and one that rewards repeated listening. You can enjoy D’Elf any old way you choose it, but make no mistake: This community of sound gardeners intends to move your booty, excite your intellect, & ultimately join you in transcendence itself.
This is always a special time for me, when Club d’Elf celebrates the release of new music. Micro and I dive way deep into the new music off You Never Know. We get personal…like the music tends to feel…and we learn how the sound formations took place, where the origins were and how the growth and friendship allowed a new bloom to blossom. The album offers a fusion of jazz, gnawa & other North African traditional music influences refracted through a prism of contemporary psychedelia—Morocco turned technicolor. Over an hour & 15 minutes, the record unfurls upon kaleidoscopic clouds of spiced smoke, shifting from chopped dub-jazz through trance epics that reimagine Boston as a city of bazaars. Micro talks of being inspired to make the record after overcoming a life-threatening embolism he suffered while on a spiritual quest in Peru. In the studio, he was joined by 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—ceded the spotlight to the collective, allowing for free-play and improvisational dexterity. Through it all rides the trance, pulsing, calming and seeking mystic truths. I welcome you this community, in service of the Groove.