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Now I Understand

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Album Review

After seven double-CD releases of live material (!), Club d'Elf finally drop their first studio album, eight years in the making. They're still plying their patented world fusion/avant-garde jazz/dub/trance chillout music and the m.o. is still basically the same, but the studio aspect allows for greater options on a number of levels. Club d'Elf's Mike Rivard can draw from an unbelievable talent pool (close to 100 players have been "members" of the club), but the live shows are constrained by who can physically attend the gig on any given night. With the studio, Rivard can put together any band he wants, whether they could all be in the same room at the same time or not. The studio also allows for a lusher, more layered sound, multiple overdubs, and detailed production touches that just can't be pulled off live. For example, "Wet Bones" was purely a studio construction built around a Billy Martin solo drum track (released on Illy B Eats, Vol. 1) and has Rivard playing a couple basses as well as sintir and effects. You can't do that live. Other tracks, like "Bass Beat Box" and "Now I Understand," have been part of the live show for years, but benefit from the added production. Great performances litter Now I Understand, but John Medeski and Mat Maneri deserve special mention (just check the Mellotron/electric viola feature on "Bass Beat Box") for their near ubiquity on the album. Guitarists Duke Levine, Dave Tronzo, and Reeves Gabrels are also on board for a track each. Brahim Fribgane contributes some earthy oud playing in several spots, and both Mister Rourke and DJ Logic turn in some nice work on the turntables, with Rivard anchoring the proceedings throughout with his big fat bass grooves. Now I Understand isn't an improvement over the live d'Elf shows; it's a different side of the same organism. Consider it the polished gemstone to the uncut diamonds of the live releases. Excellent.

Customer Reviews

sick antidote!

A sick, sick antidote for a musical world where albums get lost in the iPod shuffle. This album is worth listening to end-to-end, going on the whole 70 minute journey, and don't forget your dancing shoes. Take the brilliant strings and horns of many, many genres - electronica, funk, jazz, drum n bass, dub, Indian classical - and tie them all together with a big ecstatic Moroccan bow, and you might begin to unwrap what Club d'Elf presents in its live albums. "Now I Understand" takes that live energy and polishes it down to a smooth, refined, and deeply dirty sound. The live albums are great, but this album has a direction and journey-like feel that you can't help but move to. One thing that stands out about "Now I Understand" is its psychological depth. Unlike albums that hit only one emotional note, with Club d'Elf one minute you're grasping the pain of the universe and the next song you're happy as a cat in the sun, and dancing in the kitchen with the blinds up. Mike Rivard's skillful and detailed transformations will take you by the hand across some deep landscapes, be ready! There's not one musician on the album that isn't at his peak, and it's like being in some funky playground where all the kids are musical Einsteins. Medeski's organs will make you laugh. Brahim Fribgane's oud strings will make you swoon in the old-fashioned North African way. And the whole album will pull you into the world of trance, where you can hear something old, something new, something genuine, something sexy.


The great thing about living in Cambridge is that I found out about this album when I ran into a very friendly Mike Rivard on the Red Line and I wanted to show him how much live Club d'Elf I have on my ipod. A great studio offering from an awesome live act led by what I consider one of the world's most talented and creative bass players. Enjoy!

Evocative studio wizardry from the machine-elves

This album is a great representation of the many facets of Club d'Elf. Yes, they are incredible on the live recordings, but this album presents an aspect that you cannot create in a live setting. Bassist and d'Elf anchorman Mike Rivard has put together an audio tour de force, showcasing many of the band's most dynamic collaborators (Mat Maneri, John Medeski, etc), delivering an entrancing 70-minute glimpse at the many moods of Club d'Elf. Brilliant, mysterious, evocative, compelling, tempestuous, and downright *funky.* D'Elf is forging a new path, and this album is a chance to walk it with them on a sonic journey unlike any other. Check out "Quilty" and "Vishnu Dub," and after you return to Earth, click that "Buy Album" button. You'll be glad you did.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Club d'Elf are a Boston-based collective centered around electric bassist and guitarist Mike Rivard and a core of main conspirators. After years as one of Boston's most in-demand bass players (the Story, Morphine, Either/Orchestra), Rivard has made many musical contacts, and uses them to call in an extremely wide variety of guest musicians/club members. The band's self-described concept is "live dub-trance-groove excursions, incorporating electronica, hip-hop, funk, and free jazz as well as Moroccan...
Full Bio
Now I Understand, Club d'Elf
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Customer Ratings