[11 October 2007]
Now I Understand! Perhapsody was what I had hoped for from Now I Understand, understand? Perhaps not, so let me clarify: Perhapsody is a live recording of the record release party for Now I Understand, an underwhelming album by the trance-dance-jazz troupe Club d’Elf that, after six double-disc live releases (!!) over nine years, was their first studio product. One listen to both Perhapsody and Now I Understand and you, too, will understand that Club d’Elf is much more comfortable in live settings, stretching out and inviting other musicians to join in on the fun.
The press sheet labels Perhapsody with the genre tag avante groove—it may sound neo-hippy silly, but it fits this well-executed album. Guest John Medeski’s keys pummel the opening one-two punch of “Sin Gas” and “Perhapsody” as the band creates a sonic template that is worthy of both dancing and chin-stroking. The lanky, funky “Cave Man”, contributed by Sex Mob’s Steven Bernstein, shimmers and builds over ten soulful minutes. Club d’Elf’s lead man Mike Rivard brings a love of Moroccan music—including one of its conduits, a three-stringed bass lute called a sintir—to the complicated stretchouts of “Sand” and “Jar of Hair”. It doesn’t matter that Perhapsody only explores two of Now I Understand‘s basic tracks: this evening of recorded music offers a welcome mix of dissonance and harmony, abstract subtraction, and wonderfully skilled improvisation.