Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, November 30, 2015

St. Germain - Tourist (2000)

St Germain released a new album this year and I heard about it on NPR.  In that review, they referred back to this 2000 album thus:
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.
This release had passed beneath my radar, but upon reading that blurb, I immediately located a copy of the CD because 1) it was released on the Blue Note label, and 2) it sounded like it would hit my turn-of-the-century acid jazz sweet spot.

Well, yes, no, maybe, and sometimes.  While he does sample/create interesting grooves, most are all stagnant on one chord, which gets old to my ears fairly quickly.  The soloists work hard to solo over the one chord, but my ears keep waiting for a change of some sort.  After a while, it just becomes hypnotic background music, which is enjoyable on its own merits (that's the trance music all the rave kids were talking about 15 years ago?).  John Bush over at Allmusic puts it best in his ★★★★½ review: "Occasionally, Navarre's programming (sampled or otherwise) grows a bit repetitious -- even for dance fans, to say nothing of the jazzbo crowd attracted by the album's Blue Note tag."  While the above sounds a bit negative, I actually like the album and am glad I made the purchase.

One of the more interesting things about this album is the always-changing mix.  One minute the percussion (for example) is way back in the mix, then it slowly comes to the fore only to fade away again.  And St. Germain (French producer Ludovic Navarre) does with many instruments throughout the album.  It came to my attention as I was driving in my truck listening to the disc and I noticed my stock speakers were suddenly vibrating from the bass drum for about a minute before they stopped as the mix changed.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart:  Did not chart
Peak on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart: #1

Tracks:  My picks are Rose Rouge, Land Of.. (which bears a strong Memphis soul influence rather than jazz), and Latin Note. Weaker cuts include Montego Bay Spleen and La Goutte D'Or.

Writing credits are vague, but according to the collective knowledge of the Internet, here's the samples:
  • Marlena Shaw (excerpts from Woman of the Ghetto from Live at Montreux used in 'Rose Rouge')
  • Miles Davis & John Lee Hooker (Elements from 'Harry's Philosophy', from The Hot Spot soundtrack, used in 'Sure Thing')
  • 100% Pure Poison (Windy C provides the main sample for 'Sure Thing')
  • Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five' as the drum and bass loop for 'Rose Rouge'.
  • Scientist (excerpts from 'First Dangerous Match,' from 'Scientist Wins the World Cup', used in 'Montego Bay Spleen,' as well as 'Laser Attack', from 'Scientist Meets the Space Invaders.')
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

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