It is hard to believe that 15 years have passed since the groundbreaking success of “Tourist”, the genre-defying album by Ludovic Navarre, better known as St. Germain. The eight new songs from his just-released album stay true to the deep house beats that we’ve known him for, but this time he focuses more on Afro elements.
The mesmerizing vocals of Nahawa Doumbia from southern Mali front the intoxicating house beat on “Sittin’ Here” which also features some appealing guitar work from Guimba Kouyate. The opener, “Real Blues”, also has striking African elements with kora and ngoni, the latter of which a typical string instrument from Mali as well. Both cuts underscore the compelling songwriting and prodcution work by Ludovic who is also responsible for all programming and music direction work.
There are two ngoni players on the percussion-heavy “Hanky Panky”; Sadio Kone and Guimby playing fast, melodious lines over a fiery dance-funk beat. Another Malian vocalist, Fanta Bagayogo, is the featured artist on “Voilà”, where she chants over an indicated, programmed intro before guitar and percussion set in and never really let the song get started, but it more or less floats in the air.
A dreamy piano intro makes way for another singer from Mali; Adama Coulibaly also plays the kamale ngoni, a smaller version of the instrument. The song, “Family Tree”, turns into a veritable jazz-house cut with some thrilling saxophone work by Edouard Labor and more of that hypnotic percussion. On the bluesy “How Dare You”, there is a sample of “Nightmare Blues” by Mississippi R.L. Burnside, which tends to become a bit too samey as the song marches on, but then finally catches fire in the last third when the familiar house beats set in.
The tourist goes to Africa theme continues on the very funky, synthetic and crisp “Mary L.” with a little less of those ngoni instruments, but still with a lot of layers and cute keys by Didier Davidas. The kora is featured heavily on the final cut, “Forget Me Not”, and even though there are a lot of new and unfamiliar sounds on his new album, this might as well could be “Tourist Vol. 2”.
St Germain is on tour:
11/02 Belgrade, Belexpo
11/03 Budapest, Congress & World Trade Center
11/05 Warsaw, Stodola
11/07 Zagreb, Tvornica Kulture
11/08 Prague, Lucerna Music Bar
11/10 Utrecht, Tivoli
11/11 Brussels, AB Club
11/12 Paris, Bataclan
11/13 Zurich, Kaufleuten
11/14 Lausanne, Les Docks
11/17 London, Troxy
11/18 Lyon, Transbordeur
11/19 Milan, Alcatraz
11/20 Vienna, Museumsquartier
11/22 Munich, Muffathalle
11/27 Luxembourg, Rockhal
12/01 Madrid, Riviera
12/02 Barcelona, RazzmatazzFollow: