One year after Michigan-based artist Zach Saginaw released his third album as Shigeto, a genre-blending Detroit love letter called The New Monday, he returns with another eclectic display of affection for the musical community that makes Motor City music tick. The four new tracks on his Weighted EP, including a sumptuous remix from Detroit house luminary AndrĂ©s, continue to refine and augment the patchwork of jazz, hip-hop, and electronics that Shigeto has built his catalog with.
It's been four years since Zach Saginaw, aka Shigeto, returned home to Michigan from a stint in Brooklyn, NY, and since then, the multi-faceted musician has become a part of the fabric of Detroit's music scene. While always having a personal approach to his projects, Saginaw's influences for his third album, The New Monday, are more about the community of Detroit than anything else. The record - named after a weekly DJ event called Monday is the New Monday that Saginaw does at the unassuming Motor City Wine with a group of friends - aptly features contributions from many other Detroit-based artists like Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade affiliate ZelooperZ (who Saginaw also has a side project with called ZGTO). The New Monday represents a communal effort where solidarity is the key.
"I think over the past four years, I can confidently say that I found my place here," describes Saginaw. "I'm happy here and I feel that I have the respect from the people I need respect from, that I want respect from. It’s all of the result of embracing it and embracing, not Detroit, but embracing community, embracing family, being closer to my parents, being closer to my oldest friends."
Despite its origins in change and unrest, No Better Time Than Now is ultimately a positive work: "The last year was definitely a significant turning point in my life both musically and personally," Saginaw says, "but life has its way of working things out in the strangest of ways. I spent most of the year traveling and that gave me a lot of time to think. I got to know myself a lot better and that helped me be more honest with myselfâ€¦ that helped me write more honest music and gave me inspiration and excitement for the future."
This sense of internal reflection and confidence imbues every moment of this record. As Saginaw says, "I feel when things change so much so fast, you are forced to look at what is right in front of youâ€¦ [to] look at what's happening in the moment, [which] sometimes helps you embrace that moment. These songs are that for me. Don't sleep on a feeling. If it feels right it is. We say life is 'short,' but [we] know it feels 'long,' so when you have a chance to be honest with yourself, take it — there is no better time than now." No better time, indeed.
Fans of Shigeto's previous work will find all the hallmarks of his sound here — the warm, inviting washes of liquid synth sounds, the intricate production, the jazz-influenced arrangements. Now, however, they're imbued with a subtle energy — "Detroit Part 1," for instance, features a surprisingly pounding hip hop beat, while "Ringleader" is propelled by an insistent hi-hat pattern that sits slightly ahead of the beat, giving the track a driving mood that belies its tempo. Even the quieter tracks retain a certain sense of urgency — the aforementioned "Soul Searching," for instance, is a track that sounds just as reflective as its name might suggest, but it's kept from drifting too far into introspection by a powerful, echo-laden beat. The title track starts out in a similarly pensive vein, but builds slowly into a storm of fuzzy synth sounds and clattering drums. Even the penultimate "Silver Lining," a quietly beautiful mixture of Shigeto’s evocative vocals and tinkling electric piano, features one of the punchier kickdrum sounds you'll ever hear.