Shigeto – The New Monday

The New Monday is an eclectic set of rhythm vehicles caught in traffic somewhere between hip-hop, spiritual jazz, and the psychedelic fringe of techno. It fully invests in several directions at once, offering a warmly disorienting maze in its ping-ponging structure. This is Shigeto returning to Detroit, trying on its signature sounds, and realizing they fit better together than anything he’s done before.

This album marks a dramatic left turn from the direction Shigeto, aka Zach Saginaw, had been travelling from the beginning, but the signal had been on since 2015’s low-key perfectly named Intermission EP, where the drummer augmented his signature flow with wobbly Boards of Canada atmospheres and a clearer focus on percussive fireworks. Ever since the tropical psychedelia of 2013’s No Better Time Than Now, he was clearly leaving the contemporary beat scene – with peers like Shlohmo and Gold Panda – for more ambitious space.

An example of this new sound appears right away on debut single Detroit Part II. This seven-and-a-half minute album opener is a defiantly jazzy tune, as loose and fun as anything he’s produced, shapeshifting and head nodding along. It’s a good place to start.

I’ve always taken a personal interest in his career, since seeing Saginaw perform in San Francisco on a bill with Mount Kimbie in 2011. He came on stage with a massive drum kit next to a table with a small zoo of electronics, and I wondered which name on the marquee he was supposed to be. I had no idea that Shigeto was a percussionist first and foremost; the effortlessly groovy beats on his albums suddenly made a ton of sense. He began his show by setting off a simple repeating sample then hopping behind his kit, building a complex rhythm that sounded nothing like his recorded output. I was suddenly in the zone.

His set comprised so many bold new flourishes and even physical feats – as he leapt between the array of synths and samplers and his drum kit – that I left the show wanting badly to hear him do something so nimble on record. It took a while, but The New Monday blew my socks off like nothing he’s done since that night.

Shigeto is working in a whole new league now. The album feels closer to enigmatic Detroit superheroes like Moodymann and Theo Parrish – hot, swaggering techno fucking with soul and rap in a reckless parade of surprises. The change feels natural, seeing him flip from lush jazz into hard rhythm sequences with the same preternatural force as local beat legend Robert Hood. Each genre exploration feels as sure-footed as the last, lived in and fully invested.  I have to agree with his new Bandcamp bio, because the rich, highly specific musical history of this corner of Michigan seems to have breathed new life into Saginaw’s work.

Second single, second track on the album Barry White features rapper ZelooperZ, a Danny Brown associate who I wasn’t familiar with. This hard kicking tune is a straight up rap song, and its contrast with Detroit Part II shows that Saginaw is no mere genre tourist.

The magic of The New Monday reveals itself with the third track, when the album swerves yet again, this time into deep techno space. Instead of a jarring turn, the transition happens almost imperceptibly. The first time I listened, I was nodding along daydreaming when I suddenly got confused. What was I listening to? I checked my playlist, thinking that it was one of the above mentioned Detroit techno legends. Nope, still the new Shigeto album. I sat up and leaned in with the realization that this was turning out to be something special.

Every piece beyond evokes another wild shift, miraculously sharing the same tone and atmosphere as all that comes before it. In other words, this is a totally immersive listen despite its genre polyamory. The ending ties it all together and makes a strong case for an instant replay with curious thoughts. Where all did I go? There are so many unique moments in there, all shuffled together. The memories don’t add up just yet.

As a fellow Michigan native, I feel compelled to share Saginaw’s words on the album’s creation. “It’s a result of me being immersed in the culture, and inevitably making music that is influenced by that culture whether it be house, techno, jazz, rap. It doesn’t matter. It’s all coming from what I love about Michigan.”

The New Monday releases October 6, 2017 and can be ordered on digital, CD, and vinyl on the album’s Bandcamp page. I love seeing more artists take advantage of that platform.


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