They say some of the best art is born of struggle, but in the case of Shigeto’s Semi-Circle EP, that struggle began more than 50 years ago, when the artist’s grandmother was a prisoner in her own country, locked in a Japanese internment camp in the US. Half a century later, her diminutive, half-Japanese grandson fought to forge his own identity as a musician and bi-racial American, ultimately taking on the name Shigeto (his middle name) as a tribute to his great grandfather. The Semi-Circle EP, Shigeto’s first release for Ghostly International, is a deep, vividly beautiful suite of electronic music—the opening salvo of Shigeto’s ode to family, melody, and the art of the beat.
The songs on Shigeto’s Semi-Circle EP are bright, constantly shifting compositions, heavy on hip-hop rhythm but lighter on their feet than your usual bedroom sample symphonies. Zach Saginaw was a jazz drummer before he started tinkering in Reason, and the three-over-four claps and stuttering hi-hats of “Eternal Life” bear testament to the producer’s hands-on approach. Elsewhere, “There Is Always Hope” crowds the speakers with sensorial detail—cut ‘n paste percussion, an almost-too-smooth synth obbligato, and wave after wave of saturated keyboard tones, bright as a winter sun. Closing track “Embrace the Cold” takes a darker approach, hinting at the paranoia and dread lurking at the heart of Shigeto’s uplifting endeavor. The track’s barrage of squelches and vibraphone evoke a high-speed chase—an escape, perhaps—from some enemy, real or imagined.
With history ringing in his ears, Zach uses his music as a way to reconnect with—and overcome—his family’s struggles. And with Shigeto as his guide, those struggles recede, flickering like lamplight in the distance.
The music of Zach Saginaw, who records as Shigeto, has always cross-wired of a host of different musical influences. His EPs Semi-Circle and What We Held Onto explored his grandm...check out Shigeto's page and other releases