Zach Saginaw is a name most of you won't be familiar with, yet despite still being in his mid-twenties, he's already amassed an array of forward-thinking musical creations along with several production and remix credits to boot. Although initially part of the Detroit (Ann Arbor) electro scene, his forays studying jazz and electronic production in New York and London respectively quickly bore fruits in the shape of the excellent New Crossings EP two years ago. From that moment on, the alias of Shigeto - Saginaw's middle name - was born and since then, his experimental dabbling in hip hop, dubstep, jazz and house music has heralded a succession of notable standpoints.
Now signed to Ghostly International - having put out his earlier workings with the likes of Moodgadget and A Setting Sun - April's five-track Semi-Circle EP represented a pivotal moment for Shigeto, not least in that its multi-faceted stirrings of opulent drum and bass made the notoriously hard to please dance underground prick up its ears and take notice. His exquisitely snappy reworking of Shlohmo's 'Spoons' further enhanced a reputation that was growing by the minute, while his most recent EP, What We Held On To, pretty much disseminated the entire concept of chillwave in five easy steps. That both EPs were largely influenced by its creator's Japanese grandmother's escape from a US internment camp probably goes unnoticed.
With all of the aforementioned sowing the seeds for his debut long player Full Circle, it should come as no surprise that across its ten tracks (or 11 if you've downloaded the accompanying digital bonus piece 'A Close Keeper') Shigeto's instinctive flutters between obtuse jazz eccentricity and dancefloor classiness suffers no boundaries. Which is probably just as well, considering the field recording-laced Full Circle is a whole lot more than the result of a laborious studio exercise.
At times Full Circle plays like an aural depiction of Saginaw/Shigeto's post-graduation life. While the opening bleeps of 'Ann Arbor Part 1' feel like a youthful and exuberant Aphex Twin learning to tread water, the early Nineties-inspired 'Ann Arbor Part 2' mixes Detroit's past with its vibrant present, fellow Detroit MC SelfSays pouring a nostalgic effervescence over the track via Shigeto's clever use of sampling. 'Escape From The Incubator' meanwhile uses the old arcade game Space Invaders to deliver its message. Set to a concoction of minimal beats and ambient synths, there's a point about two-thirds in where it sounds like machine has defeated man, or in this case all three lives have gone, only for a wave of double-thick keyboards to drive it to the next level.
Likewise the two dimensional 'Relentless Drag', where robotic vocal effects and discordant bell rings pulsate simultaneously. 'French Kiss Power Up' could be Autechre gone dubstep, were it not for the cut'n'paste techno beats that cascade throughout while 'Brown Eyed Girl' - nothing to do with Van Morrison incidentally - brings 'Singing In The Rain' to the ambient realms of the dancefloor courtesy of its spectral sample hovering ominously in the background.
Indeed, such 'Did I really just hear THAT?' moments crop up at regular intervals. The opening segment of 'Sky Of The Revolution' could be Dire Straits' 'Money For Nothing' played by aliens, while 'Children At Midnight' doubles up as a playful homage to Warp's embryonic years, echoes of Sweet Exorcist's 'Testone' and Nightmares On Wax's 'Dextrous' filtering through. Ending on the five-minute trumpet concerto of 'Look At All The Smiling Faces', a singular voice instructing the piece to "Stop!" at its close, Full Circle is an engaging, if complex record that certainly exudes its creator's public dislike of genre classification far and wide.
8Dom Gourlay's Score