Club dElf: Now I Understand

Now I Understand is a hybridization of the night musics one might find club-hoppin' downtown: jazz, funk, drum n' bass, some dub and turntables.

Club d'Elf

Now I Understand

Label: Accurate
US Release Date: 2006-09-12
UK Release Date: Available as import

This isn't morning music -- unless, that is, the time is 3 a.m. and you've been club-hoppin' since 11. Now I Understand is a hybridization of night music: jazz, funk, drum n' bass, dub, and turntables. You can dance to it or let it put you in a trance -- the latter, perhaps, being more appropriate, since Club d'Elf (read: "clubbed elf") derived its name from the trance-inspired writings of Terrence McKenna. This band thrives in a live setting and loves stretching out, as proved by the six (!) double-disc (!!) live recordings that preceded Now I Understand. It seems, then, that this 13-track, 67-minute studio release (their first) could be called Club d'Elf condensed. Boston bassist Mike Rivard leads the band's rotating cast of characters. In sum, 25 musicians contribute to Now I Understand, including John Medeski, Billy Martin, DJ Logic, and Mat Maneri, and together they generate a smorgasbord of styles that is both a heady and exhausting. At its best, Club d'Elf masters jazz-funk-world-fusion (the title track and "Vishnu Dub"). The band also admirably gives Jenifer Jackson room to breathe on the sultry "A Toy for a Boy", with Jackson providing the album's only non-sampled vocals. At its worst, the band evokes comparison with a DJ suffering from attention-deficit disorder ("And Shadow Saw the Gods"). And although oud and tablas lend an appealing Moroccan influence to the dense "Quilty", the song starts wearing thin in its sixth minute. I can't quite determine if "Wet Bones (Extended)" is a genius space odyssey or a train wreck of obfuscation -- your experience may depend on the time of day and your state of consciousness. Something tells me Club d'Elf would suggest that the time be night and your state be altered.


Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.