St Germain (aka Ludovic Navarre), whose albums Boulevard (1995) and Tourist (2000) originated a genre of French electronic music that later included artists like Daft Punk, has returned to the studio to create his first album in 15 years. The self-titled record marries percussive grooves, which have always been central to St Germain’s sound, with a new element: traditional Malian music.
The album features various musicians and singers from the African diaspora including Malian kora players Mamadou Cherif Soumano and Cheikh Lo Ouza Diallo, Malian violinist Zoumana Tereta, and Senegalese bass player Alioune Wade (Ismael Lô) amongst others. Notably, St Germain also includes contributions from revered Malian guitarist and n’goni player Guimba Kouyata whom Brian Eno recently heralded as “the greatest guitar player I’ve heard for years and years.”
St Germain’s move closer to the source of the jazz and blues elements that were essential ingredients in Boulevard and the internationally acclaimed Tourist led to his interest in those genres’ roots in West African music. Tourist, which sold nearly three million copies worldwide, was equally embraced by jazz and electronic music circles, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and being named one of the Best Albums of the Year by Rolling Stone. In France, the album won three Victoires de la Musique awards (the French equivalent of GRAMMYs), including Best Jazz Album, Best Electronic Album and Best Live Performance.
On the 250-show Tourist tour, St Germain performed at venues ranging from London’s historic Royal Albert Hall to the Glastonbury and Coachella festivals, with guests including Herbie Hancock, Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin, Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander and legendary French jazz vocalist Claude Nougaro. Following the release of St Germain, Navarre will return to the road, beginning a European tour in November. A spring U.S. tour will be announced at a later date.