St. Germain – St. Germain
Lovers of Deep House and the Nu-Jazz movement of the early 2000s will well recall French artist St. Germain for the classic record ‘Tourist‘. Since then, Ludovic Navarre hasn’t exactly flooded the scene with subsequent work – instead, his work has stayed dormant – until now!
I was pretty excited and also a bit baffled that there’d be a new St. Germain album out but nevertheless I got my order in before I even had the chance to listen to this eponymously titled album.
We have 8 tracks which are a cultural blend of blues, west African music and Deep House. Something which Navarre has worked hard on perfecting, with the help of kora musician Mamadou Cherif Soumano and blues singer Lightnin’ Hopkins. It’s hard to imagine a devoted artist taking 15 years to follow up an absolute success of a record, but if it really did take that long to create this record, it has certainly been worth it. It also suggests that Navarre isn’t motivated to just get something out for the sake of it, to rake in more cash. Instead, this record feels thoroughly considered from the very first second to the the dying moments.
‘Real Blues‘ opens things out as the perfect taste of the blends of cultures that follow, as Hopkins’ vocals are accompanied by African percussion and instrumentation. ‘Sittin Here‘ follows, a moodier piece with female African vocals set to a broken Deep House beat, warm vibes and guitar/kora strings. ‘Hanky Panky‘ uses jazz percussion alongside kora, guitar and piano. ‘Voila‘ sees the return of African vocals with a reprise piece featuring lazy keys and light percussion. ‘Family Tree‘ opens with jazz piano and continues through African vocals, jazz percussion, sax and a deep house beat. And then ‘How Dare You‘ which is my favourite track – mainly due to the execution. Looped, repetitive kora and then an exchange of vocal cultures between West African and blues American. This blend of cultures is also evidence in the strings, as kora and guitar collide beautifully. What’s really impressive is when everything drops out for a moment, before the House beats and warm housey vibes play out the track. It’s a special moment. ‘Mary L‘ follows, slowing the tempo down with languid jazz piano and downtempo groove. Unfortunately this mesmerising must draw to a close and this is in the form of ‘Forget Me Not‘, which opens with deep keys, harp and kora and eventually a slow cinematic drum pattern.
An utterly stunning return from St. Germain – a must have. Highly recommended.