The first rule of improvisation is “Yes, and …” Whatever has happened, it’s your job to embrace and extend it. Shigeto (aka Zach Saginaw) sounds quite a bit like he’s been drinking whatever the Brainfeeder guys in LA have been drinking, but his music is a parallel development. Both he and the LA crew had their imaginations hijacked by J Dilla at an impressionable age, and the results reflect common ancestry, but differing results.
Full Circle keeps as its skeleton the downtempo boom-bap inherited from JayDee, but he fleshes it out with lush, romantic songwriting. The skirling arpeggios of “The Sky of Revolution” slide up the scale and disappear and reappear against a loping bassline
As an Ann Arbor boy, and grew up hanging out with Tadd Mullinix and Todd Osborn, so it’s only natural that he’d get together with Ghostly when it came time to release his own music. You might hear echoes of Osborn’s over the top synthesizer romanticism on “Sky Of The Revolution.” or Tadd Mullinix cloppity-hop drums in “Relentless Drag.” But Shigeto leverages his drummer’s timing to build up his own shape-shifting funk from multiple layers of unquantized hand played percussion. There’s plenty of sampling and knob twiddling in the mix, but the almost-falling-apart beats are full of flammed claps and triplet breakdowns.
In the context of the last couple of years Cambrian explosion of new sounds in instrumental hip hop, Shigeto might not get the notice he would if he’d come out of nowhere a few years ago, the way Flying Lotus seemed to. But I’d rate his contributions on Full Circle at the top of the class. For as busy and frenetic as these tracks are they paradoxically maintain a meditative calm at their heart.