This conclusion to this review goes as follows: This is likely to be the most impressive release of 2017. Get it now. Live at Club Helsinki is as immense as it is intense. A double album that in uncompressed WAV form requires 1.2Gb of space on the hard drive, with a set of 12 tracks offering over two hours of music. It features one famous musician by the name of John Medeski, but don’t let that fool you, he is not at the forefront, he is in the same league as the other musicians in this Boston based band.
Medeski (employing an arsenal of analogue keyboard instruments including a vintage Mellotron and grand piano), is mostly supporting and not leading the Club D’Elf crew. The band consists of Brahim Fribgane (oud, cajon, vocals), Duke Levine (guitar), Mister Rourke (DJ), Mike Rivard (bass) and Dean Johnston (drums). I don’t know how often these guys jam together but the session is live and the synergy is incredible, in places their precision evokes starling formations, so incredibly unified is the musical ebb and flow.
Club D’Elf’s music is a constant stream of almost any funk groove that one can imagine and enjoy with a tinge of north African influence. It is not a challenging album, but music lovers who are looking to find relief from the soft and mostly clichéd soundtrack of mainstream music will discover an endless source of inspiration, energy and talent of a calibre that one rarely encounters.
The sound is brittle, open and bright, the recording does not keep up with the musical brilliance, but even this doesn’t diminish the enjoyment that so much talent, verve and sheer depth of exuberance exhibited by all the musicians. As per the start of the review, Live at Club Helsinki is an extremely highly recommended musical jam without which 2017 will be paler for those who miss it.