Thursday, September 29, 2022

Club d'Elf - You Never Know (Face Pelt Records, 2022)

Club d'Elf has come a long way since I first heard them on 2006's Now I Understand album, evolving to an ever changing collective that plays a jazzy world groove music that is quite alluring. The influence of Live/Dead era Grateful Dead and early fusion Miles Davis is palpable, adding strong doses of Middle Eastern and South Asian music as well. This unpredictable band is capable of anything, including the wonderful middle eastern track "Zeed Al Maal" shot through with impassioned vocals, then giving way to a brilliant cover of Miles Davis's "In A Silent Way" that moves from spacey ambience to scorching guitar soloing. Some hot Miles like trumpet and wah tinged guitar takes the influence of his great 70's work and launches it into the present on "Dark Fish," which also features a fast paced synth keyboard interlude keeping the music boiling. Exotic Indian sounds are present on "Dervish Dance" with vocals perhaps sampled, along with deft string playing. "Lalla Aisha in Jhaptal" gets pretty funky, like a seventies action film or TV  soundtrack with fast scatted vocals and scratched vinyl, then a taut pedal drenched guitar solo snakes its way through, while "Allah Ya Moulana" has jaunty singing with non English vocals, light and mobile music, and a nice surf guitar like solo, sounding like Hawaiian or slide guitar with electric piano framing. Hand claps and electric bass on the finale "King Kong" usher in a long and complex track that evolves over time through scratches, keyboards and vocals. It results in a bubbling and simmering funky jam, with a hand percussion solo that keeps the rhythm fresh, and a B3 organ and electric bass interlude that injects old school funky jazz, before everyone comes together for a great jam to take the album out. You Never Know -

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