|St. Germain — St. Germain (October 9th, 2015)|
St. Germain — St. Germain (October 9th, 2015)♦ St Germain is the stage name of Ludovic Navarre, a French musician. His style has been described as being a combination of house and nu jazz music.
♦ One official single has been released from the album, "Real Blues", a beautiful track filled with spiraling production and the fiery vocals of Lightnin' Hopkins.Location: Paris, France
Album release: October 9th, 2015
Record Label: Parlophone/Warner Music / Primary Society
01 Real Blues 5:17
02 Sittin´Here 6:24
03 Hanky–Panky 7:06
04 Voilà 6:31
05 Family Tree 7:55
06 How Dare You 6:44
07 Mary L. 5:22
08 Forget Me Not 5:45
TOM MOON, SEPTEMBER 30, 2015, 11:03 PM ET
♦ When we last heard from Ludovic Navarre, the French DJ and producer better known as St. Germain, it was in the predawn hours of EDM, before the age of raves in casino hotels and Garage Band on every laptop. The calendar had completed its momentous flip to 2000, and there was, in popular culture, a sense that technology could be a life–enhancing, ease-promoting, creativity–fostering force.
♦ Navarre's breakthough album, Tourist, aligned with this moment. Its single, "Rose Rouge," started with a beat derived from Chicago house, but it was the assortment of sounds riding on top — drone bass, jazz ride cymbal, the thick voice of Marlena Shaw — that broke with conventional DJ thinking. Sleek and streamlined and subtle, that track and all of Tourist offered passage into a new realm of chill; an upscale serenity. (Or, at the very least, a better Banana Republic shopping experience.)
♦ Navarre's music operated within a clearly defined aesthetic. Built on and based around loops, his tracks were precision–tuned, smooth–motoring creations, loose and tight at once. Their spaciousness allowed for quirky improvisations and sonic events that wandered off–script — indeed, the constant shift between lockstep pulse and random outburst made Tourist seductive to both jazz people and denizens of clubland, tribes not usually known for their overlapping tastes. It sold more than three million copies, and won Victoires de la Musique awards (the French equivalent of Grammys) for Best Jazz Album and Best Electronic Album. Navarre toured behind it for more than two years, at times performing in the company of such jazz luminaries as Herbie Hancock.
♦ And then he disappeared. In a recent interview with London's The Independent, he said he recognized that he couldn't simply return to the same ideas or atmospheres for his next work. So he embarked on an extended period of research and experimentation. He burrowed into the music of West Africa to find links between Africa and the blues in the work of visionary Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure. Navarre spent time in the Malian communities of Paris, where he encountered the tremendous guitarist Guimba Kouyate and others. Through them, he discovered a way to do something quintessentially St. Germain: devising loops that serve as a backdrop for heated instrumental ad–libbing from not just Kouyate's electric guitar, but also traditional Malian instruments like balafon and kora. He's said it took him six years of full–time work to create this eponymous new album.
♦ Anyone familiar with music from Mali will have to give Navarre this much: Though his endeavor is electronic music and not ethnomusicology, he's tapped into core ideas that have served African musicians for generations. Most tunes are organized around short recurring guitar riffs and bloblike single–note bass textures. Their predictable steadiness inspires the others to go in the opposite direction, shattering the poised setting with impassioned vocal entreaties or equally raw, twisted–up guitar cries. The highlight of "Real Blues" isn't the deeply anguished Lightnin' Hopkins vocal sample, as great as it is, but the stupendous balafon solo that follows it. At precisely the moment when a track threatens to settle into hold–music banality, along comes some unexpected element — a metallic shaker, a latticework of interconnected percussion loops, a phase–shifted kora, a carefully plucked guitar cue — to twirl for a moment in the foreground. "Voilà" shows how St. Germain exploits the contrast between the momentary disruptive "event" and the steady ongoing loop: As the track winds down, there's a stunning whirling–dervish guitar improvisation from Kouyate, a moment that feels solidly African. Right after that, Navarre brings up the percussion, and when the tune ends we're a continent away, at a festival of shakers and rattles that feels lifted directly from a Rio samba parade. (The percussionist, Jorge Bezerra, is Brazilian.)
♦ Navarre remains a sly master of the textural mix; a producer whose sweeping effects and atmospheric auras become part of the structure of the tunes. Still, Kouyate and the other musicians here deserve just as much credit for the overall feeling of the record. Kouyate is a storyteller in the true African sense: Using short little jabbering phrases, he states a modest idea and then, working with extreme patience, builds it into something larger, more dramatic. He thrives within St. Germain's sonic schemes; his terse rejoinders between vocal phrases are as spellbinding as his full–on solos. He doesn't need to stand in the spotlight to shape the feeling of the entire track. Even his single sustained notes tell stories.
♦ Listening closely to Kouyate throughout, you get the sense that, though he was a hired hand, he ended up teaching Navarre a lot about the delicate balances that give African music its nuance and grace. Nothing here feels heavy or labored — in fact, some tracks sound like they could have happened live in the studio. In those moments, everyone involved is seeking not just the right notes, but also the most apt expression; those sounds that lift the music into the higher spirit realms. For years, a standing criticism of loop–based music has been that its repetitions rarely elevate, much less soar. That's not the case here. ♦ http://www.npr.org/ © Ludovic Navarre (aka St Germain), right, teamed up with street artist Gregos for the video for Real Blues, the first single off his new, self–titled album.
PARIS POMPOR, Last updated 09:23, October 5 2015
♣ In the closing years of the 1990s, a fresh sound dubbed French touch connected with Australasian record buyers, and one of its proponents, St Germain, could be heard everywhere: cafes, bars, clubs, cars, dinner parties and spas all bumped to his brand of deep, jazzy house.
♣ St Germain — aka Parisian producer Ludovic Navarre — was already big in Britain and Europe with a million–selling debut called Boulevard (1995). Its cover showed Navarre strutting through blurred traffic looking like a determined advertising executive in white shirt, suit pants and '90s professional–man ponytail.
♣ By the time follow–up LP Tourist arrived in 2000, first single Rose Rouge was drilling a hole in people's heads thanks to the vocal sample "I want you to get together" lifted from Blue Note singer Marlene Shaw.
♣ Like the bluesier second single Sure Thing, which sampled Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker, it sounded fresh and fantastic. Tastemakers, DJs and almost 3 million buyers agreed: Tourist was a modern masterpiece.
♦ Then suddenly St Germain vanished. What happened?
Ξ "I worked really hard to make it right," Navarre says via an interpreter on the eve of his first album in 15 years. After a warm "'Allo, 'allo", he has switched to French.
♦ It becomes clear Navarre is a perfectionist, valuing precision. His new self–titled album took three years to record. Work on it began in 2006.
Ξ "That's the way I work — I do things with sincerity," Navarre says. "I respect the people who were waiting for the next thing, the follow–up to Tourist and Boulevard. I didn't want to do the same old thing over again with jazz. The idea was to get into the universe of African sounds."
♦ The new album is indeed full of African sounds, from Malian vocals to instruments such as balafon, n'goni, kora and soku. Far from cultural appropriation, Navarre searched long and hard for the right players to bring his lyrics and compositions to life. After several false starts, a chance meeting with a group of Malian musicians living in Paris set wheels in motion. Woven around the band's hypnotic playing and harmonies are Navarre's familiar dusty samples, including some from esteemed blues man Lightnin' Hopkins.
Ξ "What I like is music that has a personality and music that expresses something sincere," Navarre says. "You can't just ask anybody to play authentic blues … If you haven't lived it, if you haven't had some sort of hard life or suffered, you just can't fake it."
♦ It was this principle driving his search for collaborators.
Ξ "I wanted to work with these African musicians because the way they play, the music, points of reference, rhythms, are all completely different."
♦ Fifteen years on, Navarre is poised to relaunch himself with another quality album and a tour that will take the African group on the road from November. Is Australasia on the itinerary?
Ξ "Possibly in January," says Navarre. Apparently Australia was a favourite destination when previously touring Tourist for three years. That journey included a Sydney stopover in 2001, when Navarre played an outdoor show beside Bondi Beach for the Vibes On A Summer's Day festival.
♦ Does he recall that balmy evening, when the sun set over hundreds of scantily clad Sydneysiders grinding to his house grooves?
Ξ "Oui, oui," comes Navarre's spirited reply. "I remember in the evening waiting to go into the venue. There was a huge cloud of bats!"
♦ St Germain's new, self–titled album is available from October 9 via Parlophone/Warner Music.
FRENCH TOUCH: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
★ Daft Punk are the most enduring and commercially successful of the '90s French house pack, arguably turning French touch into Midas touch. St Germain's overplayed status pales when compared with this helmeted duo's omnipresent 2013 single Get Lucky.
★ Although of Greek origin, Parisian play boy Dimitri From Paris debuted with a kinky soundtrack–inspired LP called Sacrebleu, but has since financed his excesses via remix work and compilations of often cheesy disco. He also flies under the radar with a myriad of pseudonyms including Dimitri from Tokyo and Dimitri From Stoke On Trent.
★ Former French hip–hop producers La Funk Mob became Cassius in the mid–'90s, peaking with the house single Cassius 1999. After countless remixes, a fresh deal with Geffen should see a new album appear any day now.
★ A consistent but hardly prolific DJ, Etienne de Crecy was catapulted into the limelight in 1996 with a fluorescent–yellow debut compendium called Superdiscount. Little has changed since then, including artwork: Superdiscount Vol 3 finally arrived this year looking identical, besides the yellow swapped for lime green. — Fairfax Media Australia ★ http://www.stuff.co.nz/DISCOGRAPHY
♦ 1995 Boulevard
♦ 1999 From Detroit to St Germain, as Ludovic Navarre
♦ 2000 Tourist
♦ 2015 St Germain
★ 1993 "French Traxx EP"
★ 1993 "Motherland EP"
★ 1994 "Mezzotinto EP"
★ 1995 "Alabama Blues"
★ 1996 "Muse Q The Music" (with Shazz and Derek Bays)
★ 1996 "Alabama Blues (Revisited)"
★ 2000 "Sure Thing"
★ 2000 "Rose Rouge"
★ 2001 "Sure Thing Revisited"
★ 2001 "Rose Rouge Revisited"
★ 2001 "So Flute"
★ 2002 "Chaos"
★ 2004 "Mezzotinto EP" (re–release)
★ 2015 "Real Blues"
1992 "Seclude EP" (with Guy Rabiller)
1992 "Deepside EP" (with Guy Rabiller)
1993 "Tolérance EP"
1994 "Volume 1 & 2", as D.S.
All produced with Guy Rabiller:
Ξ 1991 "Subhouse", as Sub System (with Guy Rabiller)
Ξ 1991 "J'Ai Peur", as Sub System (with Guy Rabiller)
Ξ 1991 "III", as Sub System (with Guy Rabiller)
Ξ 1993 "Nouveau EP", as Soofle
Ξ 1993 "Paris EP", as Choice
Ξ 1993 "Modus Vivendi", as Modus Vivendi
Ξ 1993 "Inferno EP", as LN'S
Ξ 1993 "The Ripost EP", as Deep Contest (with DJ Deep)
Ξ 1994 "Burning Trash Floor", as Hexagone
Ξ 1994 "Blanc EP", as Nuages
Ξ 1997 "Paris EP" (re–release), as Choice
(Co–)Production for other artists:
Ξ 1993 Orange – "Quarter EP"
Ξ 1993 Shazz – "Lost Illusions"
Ξ 1993 Laurent Garnier – "A Bout de Souffle EP"
Ξ 1994 Shazz – "A View of Manhattan..."
Ξ 1996 DJ Deep – "Signature"
Ξ 2003 Soel – Memento
Ξ 1993 Aurora Borealis – "Aurora Borealis"
Ξ 1993 Suburban Knight – "The Art of Stalking"
Ξ 1995 Björk – "Isobel"
Ξ 1997 Pierre Henry & Michel Colombier – "Jericho Jerk"
Ξ 1999 Boy Gé Mendes – "Cumba Iétu"
Ξ 2014 Gregory Porter – "Musical Genocide (St Germain Remix)"
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ludovic-Navarre-165513683554927/timeline/ © Photo credit: Benoit Peverelli
|St. Germain — St. Germain (October 9th, 2015)|