Zach Saginaw, known as Shigeto, has never been known to shy away from a concept. Several of Saginaw’s past albums have hinged on a theme. His first two EPs, Semi-Circle (2010) and What We Held Onto (2010), incorporated his grandmother’s voice, a reflection on her time spent in American internment camps during World War II. A jazz school dropout, his following albums were focused on blending jazz, ambient and hip-hop styles, creating a signature sound. What his new album The New Monday loses in intimacy and individuality, it gains in accessibility. It is a strong, confident homage to Detroit techno, less about a distinct musician and more about the versatility and prominence of a genre.
The continuum of Motor City music is well represented on the album. “Detroit Part II” and “Icebreaker” are club bangers that demand to be played loudly. For the hip-hop tracks, Saginaw includes ZelooperZ, from Danny Brown’s crew Bruiser Brigade, and Silas Green, an Ann Arbor rapper. “Barry White” and “A2D” are smooth, minimalist beats and could easily be the best tracks on a young rapper’s mixtape.
The restraint in production works well with the languid “In Case You Forgot,” serving as a reminder of Saginaw’s more minimal and jazz-influenced style. Less aggressive than the house or hip-hop on the album, this style feels more reminiscent of his more personal work. A nod to Chicago house comes from Kaleena Zanders with bold gospel vocals on “There’s a Vibe Tonight”, another jazz-tinged track that is a joyful album standout. A big jolt of energy comes from “Wit Da Cup,” the wild card of The New Monday. It’s glitchy and hyper, a rogue acid track with hypnotic bass and signature squelches. “When We Low” slows things down and wraps the album up with sexy horns, piano and scaled-back instrumentation.
Saginaw has made an album for techno nerds and electronic novices alike. The New Monday is a tight album, packed with nods to the Midwest’s diverse music. His jazz background falls to the background, but is still omnipresent in his studied technique. He ignores the impulse to explain himself through intimate affectations, and instead Saginaw dives deep into the history of a city that gave him a chance and a model for truly great dance music.
Notable Tracks: “Barry White” | “There’s a Vibe Tonight” | “Wit Da Cup”