St. Germain’s self-titled album is a spectacle of talent that is filled to the brim with addicting percussion beats and endless tasteful solos from every jazzy instrument Ludovic Navarre, the man behind St. Germain, could get his hands on. The LP also incorporates subtle house elements that add a texture to each song they couldn’t live without. It’s a melting pot of an album that blends many cultures of music into one soulful stew. It’s fun to imagine that Ludovic took a trip around the world in preparation for this album. Visiting Ghana to play Djembe rhythms in drum circles, flying to St. Louis to listen to a piano solo in a jazz club, then heading back to France to hit a club then go directly to the studio. St Germain is among the worldliest albums out there and it succeeds in encapsulating as many distinct sounds from as many cultures as possible.
Unlike Tourist, St. Germain’s third album, this album separates house from nu-jazz and more heavily incorporates the latter. The electronic elements seem to serve as a compliment to the jazz until it can fully manifest in the later stages of a track. When the bass drum kicks in it arrives with the rest of the party. “Mary L.” is an especially interesting track that takes on drum patterns reminiscent of those featured in trip-hop while maintaining a smooth jazzy feel. When the rhythm hits on that song you could swear that the lights in the room will turn dim and blue. “Family Tree” starts as a sweet piano solo, then over the course of seven minutes, turns into a house tune with intermittent sax jams. “Sittin’ Here” hits off with a solid deep jive and sustains both a guitar solo and the frequent vocal inputs from a Malian singer. Each song has sounds of the world in it, and it’s great on a technical level, too. The recording and mastering engineers knew what needed to be done to achieve a great sound with solid dynamics.
This album is a ticket to Brazil, Mali, Kansas City, and France all at once. Though St. Germain is on the softer side energy-wise, it still has the ability to make you dance if you let it. It’s clear that the main focus of this album was to be more subtle in its execution than in previous works while squeezing in as many elements as it could, and the success of that focus is admirable. The album as a whole came across as clean and mellow; a perfect stage for all of the solos that jumped around the entire soundscape. The return of Ludovic was, indeed, well received here at KJHK. Hopefully next time he plans a visit we don’t have to wait 15 years before he arrives.
Recommended If You Like: The Cinematic Orchestra, Jazzanova, Lemongrass, Nightmares on Wax
Recommended Tracks: 7 (Mary L), 5 (Family Tree), 2 (Sittin’ Here)
Do Not Play: none
Written By Shane Blair on 12/03/15