On Shigeto's Ghostly International debut EP Semi Circle, the producer's beats were subdued, cutting the usual overexcited hip-hop with a thin layer of chemically relaxed early Autechre haze. Follow-up EP What We Held On To skimmed that layer, opening up Shigeto's sound and letting the sunlight stream in. Shigeto's debut album Full Circle sees him carefully toeing the line between emerging homogenization and refinement. The album, rather than returning to Semi Circle as its title implies, puts Saginaw's sound through a tumble dryer for an IDM-influenced scrambling.
These songs raucously spin and cycle, finding their foundation not in concrete repetition but in hypnotic circular motion. As revolutions complete, Full Circle's tunes expand and contract (see the way the chunky Space Invaders motifs fall away in "Escape from the Incubator"), shrinking unpredictably or instantaneously growing new limbs (the blinding guitar solo in "Relentless Drag"). There's almost too much going on here to fully encompass: When Shigeto isn't exploring jazzy moods and melodies, he's hinting at dubstep and the chillwave-gone-tropical of producers like Oriol or going off on lengthy, Rick Wakeman synth escapades.
One thing that his debut album unequivocally emphasizes is Saginaw's abilities as a drummer. The constant knocking together and collision of fragments and shards quickly becomes the focus of Full Circle. Saginaw plays butterfingers with the percussion: On "So So Lovely" he juggles nuts and bolts over catchy synths and elsewhere lets it slip all over oily surfaces. But he's best when he's careful. The exaggerated bounce of "Ann Arbor Part 1" and "Relentless Drag" are empowered by the live drum hits that accompany their swaggering crashes, and "Brown Eyed Girl" rides a choppy drum pattern not too dissimilar from vintage hard bop jazz. If you like drums, you're going to like Full Circle.
It's this spirit of musicianship that sets Full Circle apart. Beyond drumming, each track is grossly overstuffed with ear-catching melodic threads, threatening to burst at the strained seams. This works for and against him, as it can sometimes feel unfocused and amateur, skipping onto the next idea before anything can sink in. But pay close attention and you'll be rewarded: Saginaw knows exactly where he's going, even if he's going to most definitely take you on the scenic route to get there.
Buy Shigeto - Full Circle at
Tracklist: Shigeto - Full Circle 01. Ann Arbor Part 1
02. Excape from the Incubator
03. Relentless Drag
04. So So Lovely
05. Sky of the Revolution
06. Brown Eyed Girl
07. French Kiss Power Up
08. Ann Arbor Part 2
09. Children at Midnight
10. Look at All the Smiling Faces
11. A Close Keeper [Digital Bonus]