3 albums you might have missed.

St Ger­main, St Ger­main

St. Germain

St. Ger­main.

If you went to a house par­ty, any­where, any time dur­ing the first decade of this cen­tu­ry, you will at some point in the evening have heard the lead sin­gle, Rose Rouge, from St Germain’s sec­ond album Tourist (you can see the video here) waft­ing from one of the rooms.

It was when you think about it a sur­pris­ing recipe for suc­cess. A cere­bral album con­struct­ed of lay­ered tracks made up of acid jazz and obscure blues and RnB sam­ples, all put togeth­er with painstak­ing precision.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly Ludovic Navarre who is St Ger­main was some­what tak­en aback by the 3 mil­lion units his album shift­ed, and he slipped back into the shad­ows as he tried to work out what to do next.

What he did was to dive into the heart of Africa where he’s lived for the last decade or so, soak­ing up their rhythms and the result is this, his epony­mous­ly titled third album. It’s as metic­u­lous­ly pieced togeth­er as the pre­vi­ous pair, but the result is far more organ­ic sounding.

The empha­sis here is on the beguil­ing melodies and musi­cian­ship of Mali, so that whatever’s sam­pled slips seam­less­ly in under the radar. If you haven’t been intro­duced to the majes­tic Éthiopique albums and haven’t been fol­low­ing what Damon Albarn, Bri­an Eno et al have been doing in sub-Saha­ran Africa then this is a great place to start. Either way, this is a pleas­ing addi­tion to what is, hap­pi­ly, an increas­ing­ly crowd­ed ter­rain. You can hear the sin­gle Real Blues here.

BOOTS, Aquar­ia

BOOTS, Aquaria

BOOTS, Aquar­ia

Boots pro­duced and wrote the four best songs on Beyonce’s self-titled fifth album, as well as pro­duc­ing the third ep from this generation’s Spice Girl FKA Twigs – she’d have been dubbed Pret­ty Spice had she been there first time around. But he’s sig­nif­i­cant­ly more inter­est­ing than that would sug­gest. And Aquar­ia is his debut album.

Rather than either of the above, the per­son whose pres­ence is most keen­ly felt here is, hap­pi­ly, that of his co-pro­duc­er El‑P. There is a ner­vous ener­gy and agi­tat­ed, son­ic inquis­i­tive­ness that is matched by the enig­mat­ic nature of the lyrics he produces.

David Bowie, any excuse for one final salute.

David Bowie, any excuse for one final salute.

Like Bowie, Bur­roughs, Thom Yorke and many more besides, he uses the cut-up tech­nique of delib­er­ate­ly frag­ment­ing phras­es as an avenue into the subconscious.

Unfair­ly over­looked on its release – though not by The Inde­pen­dent’s ever reli­able Andy Gill hereAquar­ia is a con­stant­ly quest­ing, sub­stan­tial debut album.


The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Army of the Infant Jesus, Beau­ty Will Save the World

Between 1987 and 1993 the impec­ca­bly named RAIJ pro­duced two albums and a cou­ple of eps. And that was that. But then at the end of last year, Lars Gotrich her­ald­ed the arrival of this their third stu­dio album on the manda­to­ry All Songs Con­sid­ered pod­cast (reviewed ear­li­er here).

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, Beauty WiIl Save The World.

The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Army of the Infant Jesus, Beau­ty WiIl Save The World.

Mid­dle East­ern vocal arabesques sit on north African rhythms, medieval plain­song and Baroque dirges min­gle with post-Roman­tic, Satie-esque piano motifs, found sound record­ings from the Amer­i­can Bible belt slip in and out of focus recall­ing the pio­neer­ing work that Byrne and Eno did on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which in turn had been bor­rowed from Steve Reich. But instead of being viewed with the stud­ied, detached dis­in­ter­est of the New York avant garde, speak­ing in tongues is pre­sent­ed as some­thing to be secret­ly hoped for.

If the phrase hadn’t been so hope­less­ly overused, you’d describe this as the ulti­mate chill-out album. Imag­ine if The Pen­guin Café Orches­tra had gone into a record­ing stu­dio with a bag of mag­ic mush­rooms, and the results had been released on 4AD. Beau­ty Will Save the World is as rich­ly eclec­tic, musi­cal­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed and son­i­cal­ly sat­is­fy­ing an album as you could hope to get your hands on.

You can read Lars Gotrich’s inter­view with them here. And you can see the video, all 9 min­utes of it, for the track they dis­cuss here.

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