No better time than now. Strong words, especially coming from Zach Saginaw, the Detroit-based percussionist and producer behind Shigeto. After all, it’s hard to forget that Shigeto’s last album — 2012’s aptly-titled Lineage — took as its cover art a 1916 photograph of Saginaw’s ancestral home in pre-war Hiroshima. The choice of image was poetic: a ghostly peek back in time to a moment untouched by the war, by the internment camps, by the bomb.
The title of Zach Saginaw's third Ghostly International album signifies a possible retreat from the producer's nostalgic nature. Instead, No Better Time Than Now is more about the steady development of his sound, which has become increasingly spacious and intricate at once, as well as more human and melodic, still shaped by his past as much as his present. Given the buoyant spirit streaked through some of the tracks, the album's title could be interpreted as a statement of contentment rather than as a motivational phrase.
The music of Shigeto (aka Michigan producer Zach Saginaw) has always been informed by jazz, but this new full-length takes the listener even further down that route, in parts evoking Herbie Hancock, with its Rhodes flourishes, and non-linearity. No Better Time Than Now captures a more intimate live sound, building upon 2012's Lineage in moving further towards the Four Tet/Bonobo end of the downtempo axis and away from the glitchy, West coast influence. In eschewing the heavily compressed electronic production du jour, Shigeto has found a sound that gives his compositions ample space to breathe.
Shigeto is a drummer. If you read anything about the Detroit-based artist, real name Zachary Saginaw, this fact will be drilled into you. It's clear in all of his past work: whether it's cobbled together from odd samples or the thump of a real kit, percussion is the focal point of his music. But Saginaw was hemmed in on his debut album, Full Circle, and its follow-up, Lineage, by a hip-hop framework borrowed from the LA beat scene.
You may not have heard of Zach Saginaw. You may not have heard of Shigeto, his musical moniker . You probably will have heard of Ghostly International, the Michigan-born electronic label that is responsible for releasing No Better Time Than Now and a host of other remixes and EPs created by Zach under the Shiegto banner. At first glance, Shiegto slides in nicely alongside Ghostly’s other talent (Matthew Dear, Beacon, School of Seven Bells).
Detail. All the most famous and prolific artists, visionaries, and geniuses have attention to detail - some a little too much. (I'm looking at you, Steve Jobs) But Zach Saginaw, a.k.a. Shigeto, is well aware of this fact. His newest album, No Better Time Than Now, tries to experiment with layers ….
Zach Saginaw, who makes music under his middle name, Shigeto, has shown a nice range of influence within the past few years. On projects like Lineage and Full Circle, the Michigan producer demonstrated the ability to gravitate from the kind of gentle pastoral sound associated to early Four Tet, to the more stripped-down, driving sound of a producer like Actress, and back again, to the glitchy psychedelia of a Matthewdavid. Shigeto’s newest album, No Better Time Than Now combines these separate facets into a single sound, though it’s often easy to identify the dominant mode with which Saginaw is working.
Shigeto’s last album and his second for Ghostly International, Lineage, was beautifully conceived, drawing on the themes of familial closeness between grandparents and grandson. Its execution, though, was a little unexciting. The production was at a high level – this wasn’t just beat scene tourism – and the samples of his grandmother’s voice were a heartwarming touch, but overall the album washed over you.