Release Date: Oct 9, 2015
Record label: Nonesuch
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance, International, French House
St Germain is the stage name of the Frenchman Ludovic Navarre - beyond that, there isn’t a great deal we know for certain about him. Both of his previous records were released prior to the era of internet ubiquity that he’ll drop this new one into - Boulevard in 1995, and Tourist in 2000 - and, accordingly, there isn’t much in the way of information when it comes to exactly what it is he’s been up to these past fifteen years. Perhaps he’s been putting his feet up - Tourist went multi-platinum and sold well over two million copies.
Ludovic Navarre's last two St Germain albums sounded determined to evoke the Parisian district from which he takes his name. Smoky jazz swirled around as if you were in some candlelit cellar club, while he nodded to the other black American influences of Left Bank culture in the bluesy guitar and deep house rhythms that inspired his first F Communications singles. Indeed, his music presented such a romantic vision of the city that it seemed like the audio equivalent of an Eiffel Tower postcard (as the title of 2000's Tourist might've implied).Navarre seems to have been something of a tourist himself 15 years later, with his self-titled new album recorded in his Paris studio following travels in Mali.
Coming 15 years after he dazzled the world with his jazz-house album Tourist, Ludovic Navarre returned to his St. Germain moniker with this self-titled 2015 effort, the self-titling being a signal that the project was reborn. It is, at least partially, as rare groove jazz has been replaced by music from Mali, West Africa, along with blues and funky jazz guitars from around the world.
Fifteen years ago, Parisian musician Ludovic Navarre created the soundtrack to many a bourgeois soiree with Tourist – an album that brought jazz and house music together in a way that was easy to listen to and difficult to get out of your head. Tourist went on to sell 3m copies worldwide, but Navarre never followed it up until now. This new album makes less of a claim to be contemporary: house rhythms are largely absent, replaced by a blend of jazz rhythms and Malian instrumentation.
A lot has changed since French producer Ludovic Navarre released his multi-platinum album Tourist in 2000 under the name St Germain. A wildly successful hybrid of dance music and jazz, it put St Germain on tour for over two years, sharing stages with the likes of Herbie Hancock and playing the likes of Glastonbury and Royal Albert Hall. Trend pieces lumped St Germain in with Cassius and Daft Punk as purveyors of "the French Touch." In the intervening 15 years, there have been three French presidents, and trends in dance music have moved far beyond the realms of nu-jazz and downtempo, Navarre's métier at the turn of the century.