St Germain - St Germain (2LP)

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Coming 15 years after he dazzled the world with his jazz-house album Tourist, Ludovic Navarre returned to his St. Germain moniker with this self-titled 2015 effort, the self-titling being a signal that the project was reborn. It is, at least partially, as rare groove jazz has been replaced by music from Mali, West Africa, along with blues and funky jazz guitars from around the world. In the case of the highlight "Real Blues," it is a Lightnin' Hopkins sample that supplies the blues, while Navarre does his usual -- and intoxicating -- light house shuffle underneath. Many of the cuts here sound like an Amadou & Mariam release that's constantly segueing into a Naked Music 12" from the house label's heyday, save the dissonant "Hanky-Panky," which suggests that St. Germain, like the equally slow-moving Kraftwerk, has grown fond of layers upon layers. The Mali bits and the rustic blues guitars mesh extremely well, but some of the smooth jazz noodling seems more hooked to the synths, and while Navarre certainly adores all these genres and handles them with respect and care, this isn't the spellbinding collision that was Tourist. Approach it as a much more relaxed, refined, and ethnobeat version of St. Germain.