Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Record label: Ghostly International
Teebs, Shlohmo, Shigeto. They all make music that sounds so short and pleasant that you can't call them songs. They're more like interludes that perfectly soundtrack things like your walk to the bank, a wait in line for coffee or the moments you lie awake in bed before falling into a deep sleep. They don't make albums.
Above all else, Zach Saginaw respects heritage. Shigeto, his primary alias for recording homespun electronic music, is not only his middle name but also that of his grandfather; another of his aliases, Frank Omura, is a reference to his familial bloodline. Running through his past two releases, 2010's full-length Full Circle and his latest mini-LP, Lineage, is a series of songs titled "Ann Arbor", after the Michigan town that he grew up performing music in (another track off the latter, "Huron River Drive", takes its name from a stretch of road in Ann Arbor).
By embellishing field recordings from his personal life with loose grooves and homespun digital lushness, Zach Saginaw has established his Shigeto moniker to be just as much a standard-bearer for lovingly-crafted, thoroughly-modern instrumental hip-hop as a highly-personal affective historiography project. Indeed, both his debut LP Full Circle and its mini-LP follow-up Lineage represent abstract tributes to the time his Japanese relatives spent forcibly inhabiting internment camps during World War II. Only liner notes and artist profiles provide that information explicitly, though: Even the most organic parts of Shigeto’s seductive collages only bear vague resemblance to any Earthly time or place.
With his latest mini-album, Shigeto (aka Zach Saginaw) attempts to redraw the lines of connection back to his family origins in Japan and simultaneously to his musical roots as a jazz-obsessed drummer growing up in Detroit. Jazzier and more drum-centred than previous work, Lineage is rich with live instrumentation, including organ, percussion and sporadically even subtle use of his voice, creating a warmer, more organic sound. Despite the different styles explored, from hip-hop to funk and folk, the jazz influence and carefully restrained sound palette hold it together as a fully cohesive album throughout its 29-minute lifespan.