Stream: Shigeto – Lineage

Zach Saginaw introduces his new album...

Shigeto is an alter ego for Zach Saginaw.

He is signed to Ghostly International. He is set to release his new album ‘Lineage’ through said label on January 30th.

That’s about as simple as it gets. ‘Lineage’ – for all its languid tempos and soft tones – is a complex work that draws on Saginaw’s own family history as well as a mosaic of different electronic influences.

A wonderful release that seems to slow down the outside world to unfold at its own pace, ClashMusic recently asked Shigeto to introduce the new album.

He agreed.

This is what he had to say…

– – –

As artists or musicians we are constantly learning how to express ourselves in new and better ways. Always looking ahead while trying to keep our art consistent and our own.

‘Lineage’ for me is the closest I’ve come so far in doing this. My last album was in many ways an experimentation in alien forms of creation. i.e electronic musical production. I come from a jazz background and my comfort zone has always been in a live band setting.

‘Full Circle’ (Shigeto’s previous album – Clash) was in many ways, me becoming more familiar with how I like to produce. After I was finished with it, I decided to dive back into where I came from and marry the two. Lineage is all about the sounds and playing in a live setting for me.

I spent the last year saving money and building my studio up. Some of the things I came across were a hammer dulcimer, a kalimba, a Micro Moog, various percussive instruments and a Fender Rhodes (which makes an appearance on every track of Lineage). I wanted to go back to “playing” every part and having an “organic” and “sonic” cohesiveness. I wanted every instrument in my studio to work together in harmony so, no matter what I picked up, it could find its way into the composition. I am pretty happy with the way things turned out.

As far as the concept, “Lineage” means many things. I guess the first is obvious – my lineage, my family and history. It’s always played a roll in my albums and this time is no different. As you may know, I’m a Japanese American but growing up never felt like I belonged to either side. In a way, this album is my own personal tribute to my family history. A thank you and homage towards the hardships my grandmother etc. went through during WWII.

In a broader sense, “Lineage” is about how important where “you” come from and how it plays a direct roll and where you find yourself in the world. I think these days we tend to neglect where we come from – not just “blood,” but tradition or who your teachers were or who your friends were. Besides my family lineage, I wanted to pay homage to my upbringing in the jazz scene, how I wanted to revert back to playing things live, and showing the listener that my musical life began well before the “beat” thing started for me.

The compositions on Lineage are a reflection of everything that has been a part of me up until now. It’s a time line of my musical life (not in any specific order). A direct result of combining my “live and organic” past with the my more recent fascination in production. I’m playing every instrument on every track. Some sections are recorded in one take, all the way through, not cut up or edited. I was trying to keep it as live as possible. I took influences from many different genres and moved through many styles and bpm’s but again, tried to maintain a “sonic” cohesiveness in the pallete of sounds I chose to use.

– – –

Lineage (Prologue)
This track is an entrance to the album. For me, it is trying to show what colors we’re working with. What to expect sonically. The percussion is very sparse since I wanted the main focus to be the sounds and vibe. This track never really “drops” so that the next one can feel like the start line.

Using the exact same chords, melody and structure as the prologue, but now with new percussive elements coming from all sides. Now we’re moving, headed into this new realm of piano, strings, chimes and bells. The constant wood block ticking away in the background to keep the ball in the air.

Ann Arbor Part 3 & 4
As you may have noticed, this is a continuing theme. Again, you have a similar pallet. Rhodes and Wurlitzer melodies swirling on top and a array of shakers and clacks to keep the momentum. Then at the drop, brightly colored xylophone melodies trickle in. When I wrote this it was originally going to be two different tracks, but I liked how they worked together so I decided to make it the next two parts of the Ann Arbor series.

This one to me is a slow burner. You can feel it at double or half time depending on your mood I guess, but the feeling I get is flying really fast but really high, above everything so that for you it feels relaxed, like the world underneath you is moving in slow motion. The descending harp line and dulcimer melody for me creates this along with the fast pace of the shakers. Also used the micro Korg for the bass on this one, the only really “electronic” melodic element.

A Child’s Mind
This one brings me back. I was imagining my early influence from groups like Manitoba (currently Caribou), Bonobo and the Mercury Program. I wanted fast jazzy drum breaks with melodic bells and percussion, strings in the background and an over all “sunny” feeling. This track has three different sections. Two very full of excitement and the third, calm and somber. Made me think of how a kid goes through out the day. Playing in the park, running around on sugar highs, in and out of doors and tunnels and then – the crash… bedtime.

Huron River Drive
My personal favorite on the album. Short. Sweet. I feel this one fully shows the marriage of organic and electronic, jazz and beats etc. The acoustic drums and Rhodes are played as one take. The claps and kick drum over the top are on no clock whatsoever so it has freedom to move about. It has some jazzy licks in there but not too much that you’d classify it as “jazz”. Very happy with this one.

Field Day
This would be the live drums feature. A playful, happy tune. A friend of mine described it as a gummy bear party once. I’m a huge fan of 140 bpm. I wanted to write something that had that feel and tempo, but didn’t sound like a dubstep track. More like an uptempo, live, IDM track. Something riding the line between beautiful and cheesy. Like kids playing on field day.

Please Stay
One of very few songs I sing on. For me, there is this sense of yearning for more time. Needing to say more, but you can’t or it’s too late. The track itself is simple. Many re-occurring parts circling over and over again and building slightly each time. For me it’s a good closer because it leaves you knowing that the music could go anywhere from here. I want there to be a sense of mystery for what the next album will be, but I want the listener to know what elements they can expect.

Overall, this release is more about the sonic pallet and live instrumentation rather than complex production techniques. It’s not trying to show what trippy directions I can go in or having “banger” after “banger” for the beat heads. It’s just a taste of what I hear in my head and where it will go from here. 馃檪

– – –

‘Lineage’ is out now.

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.