The steam that is coming off of “Lineage” will flood your lungs with comforting warmth: it is future beat, evolved and transformed into a melancholy Mexican folk song whose effects are impossible to slip away from. Shigeto is back, with more atmosphere and less clap drum, with a fascinating mini-LP woven by the firelight of a more atmospheric, adult sound –if I may say so– than his last effort, the notable “Full Circle.” There was some expectancy, some wondering about the future possibilities of Ghostly International’s prodigy, and “Lineage” has paved the way for our man’s immediate future to be smooth sailing. Listening to current Shigeto is as smooth as skating without friction, in the very void itself.
In any case, Zach Saginaw hasn’t given up the sound palette that has always coloured his aura; faint bass lines, funkoid rustling, beats spiralling like the shell of a snail, touches of folklore with the feel of wasabi, spongy keyboards, cosmic crackles here and there, an autumnal tonality. But the thing is that the brushstrokes of this digital kanji are much lighter, curving, and delicate this time around than they were before. An evocative quality reigns over this post-hip hop puzzle, with a wise shift towards emotional depth that distances the beatmaker from the Dilla-esque thicket crowding the surface of this whole invention.
Having overcome the psychedelic wave of California boom, there is now an entirely smooth ocean for Saginaw to splash around in like a coral collector: a celestial descent into the abyss of a watery, relaxing, zen sound; this is futuristic music to listen to in a horizontal state of suspended animation. The new album from this American producer of Japanese ancestry is, in other words, a delicate variation of scenic Shigeto, with a greater dose of extraterrestrial folk, nebulous IDM, crepuscular jazz, and evocative silences. Undulating polyrhythms, jazzy keyboards, and the gracefulness of the opening pair of songs that give the album its name, make it very clear that the corset is being unlaced, breathing is slowing down, and the night is slipping through our fingers. “ Ann Arbor Part 3 & 4” is another gem: overlapping lines of percussion, undulating effects, intimate synthesisers, a shifting geometry of breaks, voices that come and go. Even in “ Soaring,” where the more predictable Shigeto blossoms, the results are still narcotic; wintery claps, underlying melodies, microscopic guitars, and little winks of future folk levitate in your headphones, bubbling hypnotically.
And when the beatmaker leaves behind the percussive orthodoxy of hip hop –however much he deforms it—we find exciting escape valves in his alchemy, like the fairy chillstep of “ A Child’s Mind,” the broken drum’n’jazz of “Field Trip,” or the melodic digidub of “Please Stay.” Shigeto reinforces his talent with atmospheric jazz and shapes a work of very finely-detailed digital craftsmanship, right down to its presentation, with a cover where we can see his great-great-grandfather’s house in Hiroshima at the beginning of the 20th century. In conclusion, this is an album that should be forbidden in the summer. Its magic only works during this season of winter scarves and blustery wind.