St Germain St Germain Parlophone
Released in 2000, St Germain’s sophomore album Tourist joined the dots between lounge, deep house, jazz and soul like few others offerings of its time. Tracks such as the Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker-sampling Sure Thing and the jazzy So Flute saw the album chalk up more than three million sales, gaining Ludovic Navarre a reputation as one of few producers with the then much-hyped French touch. The Parisian’s eponymous follow-up shows the years have not wearied his studio nous. Navarre has channelled strong, sometimes dark, African influences to create a soulful, oft-hypnotic and improvisational musical journey. Traditional Malian instruments, including kora, ngoni and balafon, appear alongside more traditional instrumentation and original and sampled vocals to create eight rich and emotive tunes of varying tempos. Real Blues, with its wandering and vibrant percussive elements, is a bouncy, playful album opener whose subtle electronic thump lets the moaning vocal of American blues singer Lightnin’ Hopkins take centre stage. Sittin’ Here is a warm afro-house offering that sees a soaring vocal from Nahawa Doumbia combine with plucky strings to form a rolling groove. Voila, meanwhile, lets the strings of the West African ngoni shine, and their sprinkling on top of deep bass and percussion creates a nice platform for Fanta Bagayogo’s vocal. How Dare You is notable for its opening bluesy vocal and frenetic mishmash of instrumentation. St Germain is notably less up-tempo than Tourist, but for an album that has been in production since 2006, Navarre’s perfectionist streak pays dividends.