From Motown to techno, Detroit seems to have a musical magnetism built within its industrial infrastructure. Recent years and the catastrophic decline of the city’s finances have, however, seen something of a mass artistic exodus, with musicians like DJ Stingray and Gerald Donald moving to Europe, and Zach Saginaw, aka Shigeto, moving to Brooklyn. While hardship may be typical impetus for creativity, it seemed like economic circumstance was finally suffocating the city’s artistic identity. Yet, collectives like Moodymann’s Mahogani Music and artists such as Amp Fiddler and DJ Bone remained resolutely Detroit, proving that their output could not be separated from the city’s cultural character. Now, Shigeto releases The New Monday, a love letter to the city of his birth and home once again.
The record takes its name from Saginaw’s weekly club residency, Monday is the New Monday, and as such combines an array of musical influences, reflecting the diverse selection policy at the Detroit night. An accomplished drummer as well as producer, Saginaw’s work has always touched on the intersections between acoustic improvisation and the studio science of electronics, creating work that lines the imaginative framework of jazz instrumentation with weighty subs, washes of synth reverb and programmed beats. His fourth LP, released four years after the last, No Better Time Than Now, The New Monday is a coherent continuation of Saginaw’s work.
Opener ‘Detroit Part II’ is a direct counterpart to ‘Part I’ on No Better Time Than Now. While ‘Part I’ may have showcased the glitchy beat-making of the city’s hip-hop heritage, ‘Part II’ falls into the jazz-influenced territory of a Theo Parrish production, combining a soothing baritone sample with soft Rhodes chords and a saxophone melody that accompanies the artfully layered groove. The jazz-forward quotations continue on tracks like ‘In Case You Forgot’ with its Terrace Martin-style saxophone harmony, and on closer ‘When We Low’, this time placing a gentle neo-soul groove underneath the noodling horn lines.
Yet, jazz isn’t the only touchstone for Saginaw; techno and trap also feature heavily on the LP. Featuring Danny Brown collaborator and Detroit native ZelooperZ on tracks ‘Barry White’ and ‘A2D’, Saginaw showcases his propensity for a rawer sound, combining earthy drums with acid synths and languorous arrangements. Moving squarely into club territory, the record is rounded off by the arpeggiated bounce of ‘Ice Breaker’, the footwork freneticism of ‘Wit Da Cup’ and stand-out percussive weight of ‘Don’t Trip’.
This confluence of styles on The New Monday can make for a jarring listening experience, yet it is indicative of the diversity of Detroit’s musical identity – one that clearly express itself through Saginaw himself. The New Monday is a homecoming of sorts, a work that pays homage to its forbears while restlessly pushing forward, using influence not as restriction but as creative impetus.
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