Release Date: Dec 4, 2012
Record label: Hotflush
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Sigha has been one of my most closely-watched producers of the past two years. I'm hard pressed to say why because he doesn't really have a distinctive sound. Since his debut on Hotflush he's skirted ambient broken beat ("Bruised"), softened deep house ("Rawww") and fluid techno ("The Politics of Dying"), the stubborn black sheep of the UK techno resurgence.
To the extent that James ‘Sigha’ Shaw’s debut album harks back to things that were happening in the late Nineties, it’s sobering to think about how much the subcultural streams have crossed since then. Living With Ghosts, probably his most punishing set of tracks to date, is a British techno album whose ancestry lies in (to name only five) James Ruskin, Oliver Ho, Surgeon, Regis and Planetary Assault Systems. Dudes who, once upon a time, made techno music for techno labels and techno club nights, with no obvious urgency to step outside these parameters.
Living With Ghosts, the debut LP from London DJ and producer Sigha, aka James Shaw, is a record that refreshingly goes against a trend of rampant eclectism in UK electronic music. It is a record with a significantly European accent that sticks to one specific style and hones it to refined precision. The 12 pieces of largely straight-ahead techno here are the result of years of musical exploration and experimentation by Ford.
Sigha is a producer without a hook: both his story and his music are so familiar you'll long for a Twitter-sized morsel of discontent or a trendily vapid remix. First, the story. Sigha, London native James Shaw, began making vaguely tech-y dubstep for Hotflush and other labels around the turn of the decade; he has since moved to Berlin and proceeded to make a more traditional form of techno.
As a musician, Sigha cut his teeth in various shoegaze outfits before moving to Berlin. On Living With Ghosts, the London DJ wears these influences quite well. Spanning 12 songs and covering the better part of an hour, Sigha allows skeletal beats to gestate within layers of long-form murk and fog on his debut LP. Preferring angular rhythms and oblique amblers over silky melodies or forward moving structures, tracks like "Translate" and "She Kills in Ecstasy" feel like four/four club bangers stretched through a dark hole.