St Germain
Tourist


4.5
superb

Review

by Throbbing Orbussy CONTRIBUTOR (49 Reviews)
July 10th, 2021 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I want you to get together.

Over the course of this last calendar year, my foray into jazz music has brought me to some rather interesting places while the outside world stood still. From the fantastically catchy bop pianism of Ryo Fukui’s Scenery to the wildly mind-bending live performances of Miles Davis circa 1975’s Agharta and Pangaea albums, it’s been a fascinating ride to say the least. Challenges to my preconceptions of music itself have relentlessly encouraged me to take things as they come, and expand on a penchant for appreciating pure expression in the form of sound. I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for accepting this challenging form of music and growing to absolutely adore it, I’m grateful for how it has involuntarily expanded my appreciation of the entire spectrum of genres and sub-genres, and I’m very grateful it has led me to discover the apparently legendary French producer known at St Germain.

Debuting in 1995 with the Boulevard LP, the embers of creativity were patient to rekindle ablaze, with a lengthy five year gap between that timeless dévoilement and the album in question: the venerable and doubtlessly influential Tourist. It was probably a smart move on behalf of Ludovic Navarre, who drew his moniker from an enigmatic 18th century philosopher whose aliases included Comte de Saint Germain and flurry of other, equally bold titles. The heady blends of nu jazz, deep house, downtempo and dub that were so carefully perfected on his debut were surely a demanding undertaking, so one-upping that effort certainly warranted a half-decade of gestation. Nonetheless, fans during that era of infantile internet and misguided hope for a brighter new millennium must’ve been growing antsy in anticipation. Fortunately, the wait was well worth it. Released in 2000, Tourist blindsided the electronic underground, popping up in DJ sets, cafés, art studios and lofts from Paris to Boulogne for years to come. It was an album whose prevalence, one can assume, helped foster Ludovic’s influence on the French music scene as a whole, and as legend has it, can still be heard echoing through the sidestreets of France to this day.

There’s no prerequisite fluff before getting to the heart of the matter regarding this album. The styles come through right away on opener “Rose Rouge”, and anyone with an inkling of familiarity with house music and/or jazz will quickly notice the chemistry between these two forces when under the sagely guidance St Germain. The carefree demeanor of French house music spearheads the whole affair, but the steadily swift swing of those high hats allude to a more sophisticated ancestry. Indeed, the lines between those endlessly walking saxophones, prodding piano licks and driving rhythms are anything but awkward. All is in its place, with purpose and soul, and that magical synergy simply never quits. “Montego Bay Spleen” takes on a more dub persona, downplaying the swing influences of Tourist’s first seven minutes and instead opting for a spacious mix rife with soulful jazz guitar soloing and distant beachside riddims. It’s a perfect complement that rouses hope for a dynamic affair, and the following seven tunes don’t disappoint in that regard. “Land Of…” boasts a truly nostalgic organ riff before launching into one of the catchiest downtempo tunes in existence, and its impact on the album as a whole is buttressed by the spy-movie-goes-to-Spain vibes of “Latin Note” shortly thereafter. There’s so many moments on Tourist that are simply, truly, and wholly arresting in every regard that it’s a futile task to pen even a fraction of them. It’s one of those albums that truly needs to be heard to be believed, and even at that, it’s true charm is only revealed after a few layers are peeled back. As a cherry-picked example, it’d be easy to miss out on just how awesome those artificially vibratto’d vocal samples in “Pont Des Arts” are, even if you did in fact notice them on the first go-around. Those acknowledged-but-not-yet-appreciated layers to Tourist are icing to an already unparalleled cake of pure bliss, and certainly elevate the shelflife of this hour-long opus to Olympian heights, but it’s the straight-up picturesque marriage to jazz music and all the excitement that comes with it that truly launches Ludovic Navarre’s sophomore effort into a realm that an extraordinarily few number of electronic music albums inhabit.

“La Goutte D'Or” might retrace the dub leanings of songs prior with a touch of midnight mood lighting, but again, those pertinently relevant flickers of nu jazz howl in the distance even as a meandering flute draws on memories of youthful acid trips soundtracked by the likes of Shpongle and Ott. In short, there’s nothing quite like this classic longplayer. Sure, it might have the bones of a deep house album, but to call Tourist a house album with nu jazz influence is somewhat of a disservice. If anything, the dynamism and nuance on display begets hailing this is as more of a nu jazz album with deep house influences, taking all the best of both and melting them into what could be fairly hailed as one of the greatest genre-defying albums of all time. There’s no two ways about it, Tourist is a beast in a baret that confidently struts the hypnotic power of electronic beatcraft alongside the wildly entertaining stylings of unrestrained nu jazz (which in and of itself is a striking gumbo of forces), but it’s the flawless execution of it all that fills in the tough questions that lead to a perfect score. With nary a dull moment to be heard, a charisma fit for any time of day and a ceaseless dedication to detail, this early-millennium masterpiece is just as relevant today as it was twenty-one years ago. While I’m not sure how St Germain made this thing, I’ll concede to simply not caring. I’m just glad he did it.



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user ratings (92)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2021


16140 Comments


Awesome review! I've been on a big jazz kick recently, so I'll have to check this out soon

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2021


3449 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is kinda like Endtroducing... for middle-aged white people and i love it



although working in hospo has taken the shine off a little: the amount of times i've heard Rose Rouge, honestly

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2021


28576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Did I ever tell you about that time I bought a wax copy of this for 1 buck and I went on playing only half of the album for years cause I didn't know it was missing the second record?



Well, now you know.

Digging: Taj Mahal Travellers - July 15, 1972

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I feel smarter for it.

Digging: Ithaca - The Language of Injury

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2021


49280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I accidentally got this in the mail years ago when I ordered a cheapo copy of a Sigur Ros album and the seller made a fuckup. Never vibed it much outside of situational playlists, but it's as useful as they come to that end

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 11th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's like, the best shipping mistake ever. I'm definitely looking to get a vinyl copy of this thing. Just got my ProJect Debut Carbon Evo deck and I'm 100% ready to blow all my money on black discs now.

bigguytoo9
July 11th 2021


1275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My dad used to own this CD, heard it a whole bunch. Great stuff.

AnimalsAsSummit
July 11th 2021


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice Evok! While not really a favorite blend of jazz and electronic for me, it’s an excellent album. Probably warrants a 4 rating.

Digging: Intestinal Engorgement - Putrefying Consumption of Dismemberment

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
July 11th 2021


22377 Comments


album rules, great review. not usually a fan of french house but this one gets the fusion just right.

Digging: Black Fucking Cancer - Procreate Inverse

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 12th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really gotta hunt down some more french house. I feel like I'm missing out on a whole scene I might adore atm



Jash
July 12th 2021


4304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My high school video production teacher lent me this CD and I dug it at the time but forgot about it shortly after. Years later I recognized the cover at a record store and bought it on wax on a whim. I was completely stunned by it after the first listen, still gets regular spins to this day. I’ve opened so many DJ sets with Montego Bay Spleen.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
July 12th 2021


70163 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I accidentally got this in the mail years ago when I ordered a cheapo copy of a Sigur Ros album and the seller made a fuckup"



LOL you ordered a glass of soy milk and got this:



https://images.app.goo.gl/ir5Jk4v2E1sDN2JX6

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 12th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah if you spin that 140 steez and find yourself curating the beachy side of tings I can think of few better tunes for it! I miss those days. Glad things are opening up again and gigs are on the table once more.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2021


2122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

a) I can't believe this didn't have a review

b) I can't believe that the words "So Flute" haven't appeared on this page yet.



God's work, Evok. God's work.

keaton_86
July 12th 2021


732 Comments


Is it just me or is the album having a resurgence at the moment?

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 12th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Merci Ruggles, merci. And keaton, I think it might still be riding the coattails of its 20th anniversary promo and re-issue. Maybe a bit of that, and a bit of help from streaming algorithms?

keaton_86
July 12th 2021


732 Comments


ah that makes sense. I remember this album from when I was 13 but I listened to it properly the other day and was very very impressed. It's great.

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2021


9039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Btw, if anyone knows of more stuff in the vein of this St Germain madness, I'm all ears.

AnimalsAsSummit
July 15th 2021


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you want more French house sounding stuff check Ian Pooley. He’s German but tours with tons of French house people and is influenced by it and nu jazz heavily. Also Telefon Tel Aviv for more IDM/jazz, if you don’t know of them already. Their first album especially reminds me of this. The third album they drop the jazz influences though.

AnimalsAsSummit
July 15th 2021


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

On here they don’t have Souvenirs but that’s Pooley’s best album imo



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