Michigan-born, Brooklyn-based artist Shigeto is one of my favorite artists on Ghostly International. AKA Zach Saginaw, Shigeto has been making collages of electronic beats, richly-textural releases, many of them following the narrative of his family’s experience in Japanese internment camps here in the US during World War II.

“What We Held On To” is a surprisingly-deep EP, following his last “Semi-Circle” and coming before the upcoming full-length “Full Circle.” It’s released completely free for download from Ghostly, and the tracks (included here) have also made it to his SoundCloud account if you want to share your comments on that favorite spot exactly one minute, 17 seconds into the third cut.

Shigeto stopped by the Ghostly International workshop I spent last week attending, and walked us step by step through one of his productions. His main axe of choice turns out to be Propellerhead Reason, making use of programming Reason’s sweet sounding effects. (He showed us some programmatic delay taps in Reason’s RV7000 reverb module. He also revealed that he plays a lot of rhythms live to maintain their feel. In this case, when he did turn to the programmed Redrum modules, he set the grid to 64th notes to actually program in swing syncopations.

Both technically and compositionally, though, collage is central, in cut-up samples, in sounds gathered on his field recorder (explaining a lot of those wonderfully-gritty timbres), and in the personal identity narrative interwoven with the tracks. Taken together, for me Shigeto’s records are worth repeated visits and contemplation.

Here’s a listen to the tracks themselves:

spring textures by SHIGETO

after she smokes by SHIGETO

Bitter Sweet by SHIGETO

what we held on to by SHIGETO

grandmas words // rise out of the stone by SHIGETO

[NEW MUSIC]: SHIGETO’S ‘WHAT WE HELD ON TO’ EP (FREE!) [Ghostly International]


  • KNS

    This is what happens when Reason land in the hands of a skilled musician and not a whiner. Good stuff.

  • zeekay

    Wow this is absolutely lovely!

  • Alejandro Vukasovic

    KNS: Don't forget "Sorry I Make You Lush" by Luke Vibert (Wagon Christ). I guess it was made with Reason 2.5.

  • excellent EP!
    just starting listen 2 right now…
    very impressive

  • gerald

    sounds like this Shigeto is defs wanting in on the flylo sound. 🙁

  • y

    blah…usual arty cowshit.

  • usedtobe

    loose drums and sidechain don't mean he's biting flylo!

    he's biting dilla, as we all should 😉

    your music please?

  • deadredeyes

    Indeed KNS. If you put Reason in the right hands, you won't be able to tell what the music was made with.

  • This is awesome! Thanks for sharing the word, Peter!

  • y

    @ usetobe
    my music ?
    what about yours ?
    shouldn't be difficult to do something with more soul than this…innit ?
    wait a sec…I load one of those gimmick instruments by R.Devine and I will rock the place.

  • mongoose

    I'm never too sure why negative comments are always met with indignant requests to "show us your own music then!!"

    "Usual arty cowshit" isn't the most constructive criticism but if the guy/girl doesn't like the music that's up to him/her. Why they would need to be able to create something "better" in order to qualify for not liking this or thinking it's bad I'm not really sure.

    I can tell when someone isn't a very good singer, I can't sing and probably couldn't do any better but it doesn't change the fact that I can tell when someone else is a bad singer.

  • mongoose

    For the record I like the music, I love seeing Reason used for creative innovative, interesting stuff like this instead of just lazy use of the provided and aftermarket loops and presets. However much the provided loops and presets are very good.

  • y

    @ mongoose : well said…thanks for putting it into words.

    btw..cowshit is very holy stuff…and good stuff grows on it.

    still…claim my right to say that i don't like that music, without showing you mine (which I could…maybe I should?).

    instead I show u this…no reason…no max…no computer…much soul tho…on soundcloud.


  • @ y :

    You know the name of this blog is "Create DIGITAL Music", right? That persian stuff is definitely cool, but "no reason… no max… no computer" isn't really the focus of discussion here.

  • y

    @ Metal Tiger
    you very smart…but not enough smart.
    it is on soundcloud…it's digital innit ?

  • max

    I'm not shure about soul (come on, we're in the 21st century – soul is so 400 BC!) but I agree with Peter that these tracks have a dense personal atmosphere – much more than a lot of the music featured on this blog(the recently presented work of micronaut, for example, sounded to me like some synth demo tracks…)

  • y

    @ max
    if soul is 400 bc, atmospheres are soo eighties.
    what a nice atmosphere (ahahah).

    is the 21 century only the century of greed (or griid…as you prefer) ?