Two years after Shigeto released his second full-length, No Better Time Than Now, the busy Detroit polymath, born Zach Saginaw, has finally taken a break from his endless hustle to update everyone on his current musical headspace.
“I’ve been on the road for a long time now and also have been working on other projects,” he explains. With projects that include working on a new live ensemble arrangement, playing electronics in a jazz quartet, recording with Detroit rappers, and building a new studio, it’s no wonder we haven’t heard much from him since 2013.
“I haven’t found the next step for me yet. I’ve been making loads of music as always, but I’m still looking for that concrete new path.” Shigeto’s recent Intermission EP takes its title quite literally, then, presenting a snapshot of the artist’s transition between ideas and inspiration. Indeed, listening to these six eclectic tracks evokes a dynamic sense of exploration, excitement, and stylistic freedom.
Saginaw describes Intermission as a collection songs that “point to the past, present, and future.” His inimitable hallmarks are certainly there: the heavy drum-machine knock and jazzy synth flourishes of “City Dweller”, that airy thumb piano in beat suite “Do My Thing”, and “Pulse”‘s percussive, polyrhythmic grooves. They mingle with some fresh sounds from Shigeto, too.
Chester Raj Anand, who records as Lord RAJA, may have been in Austin to perform at SXSW, but he wasn’t going to leave without bringing home a few things for himself. “While I was there,” he explains, “I went to that famous synth store, Switched On, and my mind was blown. They had everything—all these modular synths, a mellotron, Elektron synths. Just everything.”
As he was surveying the goods, a plan began to form. “I asked the person who was working there, ‘Would it be OK if I took my laptop and recorded some sounds?’ And I just started going crazy—plugging everything in, trying out different things, messing with drum machines, and recording all of it using RME Babyface. When I walked out, I felt like I had made off with the loot.”
Those sounds formed the basis for PARA, RAJA’s second full-length and the first that fully captures his vision for his music. “This is probably my most successful attempt at making a consistent work,” he says. “I was really conscious about making a record that wouldn’t alienate people.”
“The title, PARA is an open-ended ‘For,’” RAJA explains. “It could be ‘For You,’ it could be ‘For’ something you’re doing. Ultimately, it’s for whatever you want it to be for.” PARA retains that flexibility and fluidity, while staying true to the person who made it. “I feel like I was very prepared to make this album,” RAJA says. “I wanted to include everyone, and say ‘This is my voice.’” On PARA, that voice comes through loud and clear.
Heathered Pearls is Polish-born Brooklynite Jakub Alexander, whose career in music was deeply rooted before ever releasing his own. Curator for Tychos ISO50 blog, co-founder of the Moodgadget label, and A&R at Ghostly International, Alexander has been entrenched in the industry since 2002. He was first introduced to the power of ambient music by his mother at an early age, discovered techno as a teenager living in the Detroit area, and gradually learned to create his own vision of the genres.
In 2012, Heathered Pearls wrote and released his first album. Loyal mimicked the hypnotic and swelling motions of ocean waves at night with melodic, loop-based ambient music, and was well received across the board. But Alexander would only move on from there, inescapably drawn to dancefloor ideas and memories of the engrossing techno mixes he pored over as a kid.
The second Heathered Pearls album, Body Complex, was conceived in that mindsettransforming Loyal’s gritty, soporific textures into immaculate 4/4 figurines, glacial tone drifts, and starry synth plateaus. It’s the beginning of a new phase in Alexander’s ever-evolving project, the possibilities of which expand seamlessly into the realms of music, art, and performance.
Shigeto + Lord Raja + Heathered Pearls
Saturday, 20 February 2016 | 19:30 CET
Gretchen | Obentrautstr. 19-21 | 10963 Berlin – Kreuzberg